Estefania’s father disappeared one day and never returned — he had been deported back to South America. And though in the time since she’s been able to start a new life for herself and her child, she wants to help others in a similar situation to hers by advocating more humane and sensible immigration laws.
Estefania Galarza is an immigration activist with Faith in New York, an organization dedicated to bettering the lives of immigrants and the communities they live in. She was born in Ecuador and her mom left to go to America when she was five; she stayed behind with her grandma, and followed a couple of years later.
Her family — parents and three kids — struggled to get by but made ends meet through hard work. She excelled in school, attending summer camps at Harvard University and Georgetown. From a young age she wanted to become a US Senator, a desire only fueled by her love of the new country and the seemingly vast amount of opportunities promised. But her ambitions for college — and for government — came to a rude and abrupt end when she found out that because she did not have citizenship she would not be able to get entrance into many schools and could not afford the others.
One morning — shortly after her high school graduation — her father left for work as usual but never returned. He had been detained by immigration officials, who held him on bail for several thousand dollars, a sum too great for the family. He was deported to Guatemala, and Estefania hasn’t seen him since.
She’s now dedicated to changing the politics of immigration, asking lawmakers to put politics aside and concentrate on the people involved. She’s not asking for much, she says, just the opportunity to live without fear.
My name is Estefania Galarza. I was born in South America, in Ecuador. I came to the United States when I was five years old.
After I went to high school, my father went to work one day, and he never came home. I never really got to say goodbye to him. You know, he was deported. And he was a very, he paid his taxes every year, he was, no criminal activity in his life, a very responsible father.
In 7th grade, I took my first civics class. And I was just so fascinated with this country, it was just so weird, it was kind of like a forbidden fruit, you know, the more I learned about it, the more I learned about its history, government leaders. I was just so intrigued and at the time I so wanted to become a US Senator. Then in HS i realized that I couldn't, because to be a Senator you need to be a citizen.
Because my child, thank God, is a US citizen, he will never have to face the same obstacles that I did, so in a way, I'm thankful that if he dedicates himself in school, if he's a really good student like I know he'll be, he'll achieve like I did.
Blog post: brownparkere.com//2014/05/15/changed-one-deportation-gave-rise-dreamer/
Faith in New York: faithinnewyork.org/
New York Dream Act: nydreamact.org/
Immigration Policy Center: immigrationpolicy.org/
Faith in New York