Nominating Organization: Make the Road New York

Antonio mtr headshot.jpeg
Antonio's little brother, grandmother, and Antonio (far right) as a child in Mexico. 

Antonio's little brother, grandmother, and Antonio (far right) as a child in Mexico. 

Antonio's grandfather in Mexico

Antonio's grandfather in Mexico

Antonio's brother and parents in Mexico

Antonio's brother and parents in Mexico

My name is Antonio Alarcon. I’m 19 years old and I came to the United States in 2005 from Mexico crossing the border. Arriving in New York I felt like I was living a dream. It was like being in a world of giants. There were skyscrapers everywhere, and I was afraid of what might happen next.  Here, I had to learn a new language and adapt to a different culture. The saddest thing, though, was having to live without my grandparents and brother. 

I had to see my parents work seven days a week in order to provide everything at home. They gave me the strength to devote all my academic achievements to them. A grade of 90 was not enough for me because I knew they were giving their 100% at work so I could study and I did not lack for anything. 

Years passed, and in 2011, the news that for many years I hoped to never hear knocked my door: my grandfather had died. I knew I was undocumented, I could not go to Mexico and say a last goodbye to the person who gave me advice and values for many years. The greatest pain was to see my father collapse, to know that, for being undocumented, he could not go to the last farewell to the person who gave him life, that due to the immigration system was not going to see his dad. 

Still not recovered from the loss of my grandfather, my father found out that my grandmother had this damn disease: cancer. My father, desperate to save the person who brought him into the world, sent her to receive treatment. The results looked good, until a cancer diagnosis said it very advanced. The days passed and my father begged not to hear the bad news. 

The fate was already decided. On January 1st 2012 the terrible news came. A call at 1 am by my aunt gave the news that nobody wanted to hear: my grandmother had died. My father had no consolation. The only thing he thought was to return to Mexico and see his mother. 

He forgot all his dreams, forgot that he wanted to have his own business in this country. He wanted a business where he could have to work without being exploited. My mother planned to be a housewife and bring my brother to this country. The only thing that they wanted was to have a happy family. 

After the death of my grandmother, my parents made the decision to return to Mexico. I did not want to return to my country. The two main reasons for me to return were not in this world. My parents were tired of the inefficiency of the government in not passing Immigration Reform. During the 12 years that they spent in this country, there were many times they heard politicians say "I pledge to pass an Immigration Reform." However, it is something that, since 1986, never happened. He said that he was tired of politicians who like to play with the lives of the undocumented community. My father used to said, "If they really want to do something for us,  they had done already by now and would not only be talking". 

After many conversations and tears, my parents made the hardest decision of their life. Recovering a child in Mexico, leaving the other in this country, we remained separated as a family but they knew that here I could have a better education and better work opportunities. 

It's been two years since I've seen my parents and almost 9 years without seeing my brother. Two years where my parents missed my high school graduation and many important moments for me. There have been times when I wanted to hear my mother say, "My son, here am I, your mother." I only have few memories with my mom during the time we spent together for 7 years of my entire life. Not because she had not wanted to be there for me, but because she had an obligation to work. 

I have applied for advanced parole - a type of temporary travel document for educational purposes for undocumented residents. In Mexico, I will speak at many public events and meet with community organizations, educating people on the immigrant youth movement in the United States. I am a dreamer who wants to clean the dust that has accumulated on the values of the Constitution of the United States. I am a dreamer who seeks to respect the rights of every human being regardless of color, religion, sexual orientation, or immigration status of every person. I am a dreamer who fights for the respect of my parents' rights, those rights that were never respected when they were here. I fight for immigration reform that includes my community, the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in this country, the ones that see it as the land of freedom and opportunities.





The De Castro-Lee Family

Of the 40 million foreign-born persons in the United States, more than 11 million—one quarter of the total foreign-born population—are living in the United States without documentation. Antonio is a member of this shadow population. He went to school. He is dreaming big. And he wants to make our country a better place. He is an “American in waiting” and our family is excited to have the chance to play a small part in reuniting Antonio with his brother and parents in Mexico. 

Our family is particularly invested in Antonio given his choice to become an activist on behalf of the larger unauthorized immigrant community. We are inspired by his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform and we hope that his life will help the public and lawmakers realize the human cost of doing nothing. In supporting Antonio, we are especially honored to be partnering with the organization, Make the Road New York, whose social justice mission resonates with our own professional commitments.

Stephen is a law professor whose teaching and scholarship aims to advance the rights of undocumented immigrants in the workplace and criminal justice system. For her part, Adrianne has devoted her career to protecting the rights of workers through litigation and advocacy. We see our participation in Hello Vuelo as a natural extension of the social justice work we hope to do for the rest of our lives.



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