Hackathon team Push4Reform, led by DREAMers Luis Aguilar, Kent Tam, and Justino Mora created an all-in-one organizer tool that allows community members to be more directly involved in the push for immigration reform. The app will give information about each member of Congress and where they stand on immigration reform. The app will also provide updates on important actions and allow people to call or email their representative to support immigration reform.
Push4Reform impressed the judges, who immediately saw the potential for the app to be used as a practical tool for the immigration reform movement. Stay tuned in the coming weeks, as FWD.us is currently working on integrating Push4Reform on our website.
Hackathon team #Undoculife, led by DREAMers Erick Garcia, Celso Mireles, and Carlos Vargas created an immersive game to educate the undocumented immigrant community about their rights in a virtual world with real life scenarios. Their innovative approach to storytelling led their application to win Best Storytelling App at the event.
The DREAMers were joined by mentors Grace Lee, Josh Wiseman, and Khoa Doba. Together the team designed the game using a framework called Unity. Although none of the engineers had experience with the framework prior to the Hackathon, they were coached through the process with the help of a team ally who advised the group remotely from Vietnam via Google Hangout.
Mark Zuckerberg said of the project, "This is one of the most impressive things I have seen in a while."
Congratulations to all of our amazing, talented, and inspiring DREAMer Hackathon participants! It was an incredibly busy couple of days at LinkedIn HQ in Mountain View, and the judges were absolutely blown away by strength of your work and your creativity. Each prototype was so impressive that we quickly realized we needed to recognize honorable mentions in every category – there were simply too many fantastic ideas to choose from.
As FWD.us founder Mark Zuckerberg noted about the remarkable designs, “Being able to pull this off in 24 hours... that’s something really impressive.”
Here are the overall winners in each category:
Team Members: Luis Aguilar, Falls Church, VA | Justino Mora, Los Angeles, CA | Kent Tam, Los Angeles, CA
Push 4 Reform: We're an All-in-One Organizer Tool/App that allows community members to be more directly involved in the push for immigration reform. App will give info about your member of Congress: where they stand on immigration reform, provide updates on important actions, allow people to call/email their rep.
Winning Team: I Have A DREAM
Team Members: DREAMer participating via web from NYC
I Have A DREAM - A viral Facebook app that lets people tell their personal stories for the most impact and connect them to larger causes. Not specific to immigration reform, but reform would be the featured cause.
Team Members: Erick Garcia, Mesa, AZ | Celso Mireles, Phoenix, AZ | Carlos Vargas, New York, NY
#Undoculife: #Undoculife serves to educate the undocumented immigrant community about their rights in a virtual world with real life scenarios.
As Mark noted on Team #Undoculife’s game design, “This is one of the most impressive things I have seen in awhile.”
We hope to continue working with teams to use what they build at the DREAMer Hackathon to continue FWD.us' work of helping to pass immigration reform. Congratulations again to every participant, and thanks for everything you’ve done and continue to do to help move immigration reform forward!
We're just a few hours away from the start our DREAMer Hackathon! Later today, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Drew Houston (Dropbox), Andrew Mason (Groupon), and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) will come together with DREAMers at LinkedIn headquarters in Silicon Valley for a hackathon to develop new technology to fight for immigration reform.
FWD.us supporters all across the country are invited to take part in the Hackathon by joining us virtually via livestream. We'll be broadcasting the opening program where technology leaders and DREAMers will speak on the importance of immigration reform, as well as the closing demonstrations and awards ceremony.
Immigration reform supporters in major metropolitan areas are also invited to our #DREAMstream watch parties tonight in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Raleigh/Durham, and San Antonio.
We're teaming up with some wonderful folks in each city to bring you an exciting evening with technology and immigration reform movers and shakers. Each event will start off with a livestream of the hackathon's opening ceremony. Afterwards, Drew Houston, Andrew Mason, and other FWD.us founders will virtually join attendees for a Google Hangout live from the Hackathon floor!
It’s a great opportunity to meet other people who want to help pass reform, and to learn more about how you can be an effective advocate.
See below for specific information for your city:
WHAT: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon DREAMstream
WHEN: Wednesday, November 20th at 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: hack/reduce at 275 3rd St, Cambridge, MA 02142
WHAT: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon DREAMstream - San Antonio
WHEN: Wednesday, November 20th at 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
WHERE: Racker Rally Room, Rackspace Global Headquarters 1 Fanatical Pl Windcrest, TX 78218
What: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon #DREAMstream - Chicago
Where: The Motorola Mobility Conference Room @ 1871
222 W Merchandise Mart Plaza #1212 Chicago, IL 60654
When: Wednesday, November 20th from 5:00 PM to 7:30 PM
WHAT: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon #DREAMstream - Philadelphia
WHERE: 1818 Market Street Suite 3300 Philadelphia, PA 19103
WHEN: Wednesday, November 20th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
WHAT: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon DREAMstream
WHEN: Wednesday, November 20th from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
WHERE: HQ Raleigh 11 Hillsborough St, Suite 230 Raleigh, NC 27603
NEW YORK CITY
Join the wonderful folks at NYC Apps, WeWork, Uber NYC, Betterment, Style Coalition, and RockThePost for #DREAMstream NYC! Make sure to introduce yourself to our party hosts Tanya Prive (RockThePost), Yuli Ziv (Style Coalition), Joe Ziemer (Betterment), and Bob Greenlees (ShuttleCloud).
WHAT: FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon DREAMstream - New York City
WHEN: Wednesday, November 20th from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM
WHERE: Betterment 61 W 23rd St 5th Floor New York, NY 10010
Rahul graduated last year from UC Santa Barbara with a degree in Computer Science. He'll being joining other DREAMers and top tech minds at our Hackathon on Wednesday. Read on to find out the biggest challenges he's faced due to our current immigration system and his strategy for 24 straight hours of coding.
FWD.us: Why is taking action on immigration reform important to you?
Rahul: Immigration reform means a lot to me because it will secure a better future for my friends and family. Many individuals are currently living under rigorous conditions and are being exploited. It is important to come up with a solution that will allow these individuals to come out of the shadows and prevent our nation from having two classes of citizens.
Throughout the years I have met many talented, educated, and hardworking folks who have a lot of potential but are shadowed by their undocumented status. Giving them an opportunity to exercise their potential will cause our nation to progress and prosper. There is a huge demand in science and technology and many undocumented individuals would be the perfect candidates to fill the void.
FWD.us: What have been some challenges you've faced because of our broken immigration system?
Rahul: One of the biggest challenges for me was living under fear and unpredictability. Though my classmates and friends had their roadmap planned out to a certain extent, I never knew what the future had in store for me. This frustrated me because I wanted to put myself in a position where I could provide for myself and my family but being undocumented made it impossible to do so. Not seeing my hard work pay off was also very difficult to cope with. Though I was giving my 100% in school, I was not able to get a job or internship and exercise the things I learned in school. I was very anxious to work with companies and learn the art of developing software with a team. Even though I was willing to work for free, I was still not able to do so because of my undocumented status.
Besides financial hardships, another challenge for me was being isolated from major family gatherings that occurred abroad. Whenever there were family gatherings and events (such as weddings), I had to miss out on them because there was uncertainty on whether I could come back into the U.S. and carry on with my education. Dealing with detachment was something which was very difficult for me but I eventually got used to it.
Also not having a drivers license took a toll on my dating life. Whenever I had a date, my friends would have to drive me and my date around. Though this was fun, it got awkward sometimes.
FWD.us: What are you most looking forward to when it comes to the Hackathon? Any ideas on what you'd like to achieve?
Rahul: I am looking forward to meeting other the DREAMers at the Hackathon. I get inspired when I learn about how fellow DREAMers have managed to overcome their adversities. I am also looking forward to seeing the ideas and applications that come out of this Hackathon and how they will impact the push for immigration reform. My goal for the Hackathon is to come up with a network where DREAMers can create a profile with basic information (such as their education, nationality, profession, current location, accomplishments etc). I want to aggregate this information from every profile and visually represent it in the application. This will allow everyone to see the diversity of DREAMers along with the positive changes they are capable of making.
FWD.us: What is the biggest strength you bring to the Hackathon?
Rahul: The biggest strengths I bring to the Hackathon are my eagerness to learn and my passion for technology. It really excites me to work on software projects that have the potential of affecting people's lives. I have been working with developing web applications for the past two years and I believe my experience will be beneficial to the Hackathon. Also, I've previously participated in Hackathons and I really pride myself in making it through the 24 hours without any caffeine. This will be me after 20+ hours have passed by.
While I am passionate about a number of issues, immigration reform hits especially close to home.
My parents are originally from Hong Kong, and my mother came with me to the U.S. to build a better life for our family.
Unfortunately, being undocumented meant unexpected roadblocks, such as my parents having to return to Hong Kong when I was just a teenager.
While I remained in this country, several years later my immigration status made it difficult for me to work. I had strong coding skills -- and so was able to do freelance work -- but our broken immigration system limited my options.
After a year of waiting, I was finally able to be a beneficiary of DACA, which provided temporary documented status. And while I am grateful for the opportunities that DACA opened up for me, it also has its limitations.
For example, I’m not able to travel to Hong Kong to visit my parents, whom I have not seen in over 10 years. Immigration reform would allow me to finally see them again.
I have personally experienced the failures of our immigration system, and know that reform is long overdue. That’s why -- at the Hackathon -- I want to help build tools that keep our representatives accountable for their actions. It's always important to be able to relate to your customer when building out an application, even better when you're the target audience yourself. And I think that my experience and my skills is perfect for this Hackathon.
I’m excited to work with bright, like-minded people to contribute to a cause that is close to my heart. I can’t wait to see see what the other DREAMers and I are able to produce, and to share the creations with you.
Our upcoming Hackathon will bring a diverse group of engineers and product designers to Silicon Valley in order to collaborate creating tools to aid the fight for immigration reform. Despite coming from different backgrounds and from all over the country, the DREAMers we've invited have experienced similar personal and professional obstacles as a result of our dysfunctional immigration system. Two of the DREAMer Hackathon participants share an extra special bond: they are brothers.
Jorge and Edgar Torres were born in Mexico and arrived to the United States as small children. Both are now Computer Science students at San Diego-area universities.
We caught up with the brothers to ask them a few questions ahead of next week's Hackathon. Read on to learn more about their goals for the event and why immigration reform is a critical issue for them.
FWD.us: Why is taking action on immigration reform important to you both?
Edgar: Besides keeping families together, I see immigration reform as opportunities. Action on immigration reform is important, but it is more than just a piece of legislation. What use would an opportunity be if I wasn't prepared to take advantage of it? I support immigration reform because I believe it can lead us to something much greater.
Jorge: Immigration reform is an issue that our family has always thought about. For the past twenty years, my brother and I always wondered if this would be our last school year here in the United States, or our last semester, or our last day. We both have worked hard to excel in our academics. Our family always pushing us to go to greater heights, but there was always that ceiling above us. During those six years of immigration limbo our definition of patience and conviction changed. When our parents would tell us to be patient or that the system would work itself out, the only thing we heard was it will be an eternity before we see our hard work yield anything.
Working hard towards something and not knowing if we would ever have anything to show for it is like placing a bet. With DACA, we were able to finally able to see what a winning bet felt like. I am done betting on a future that might be. I want to start placing an investment in a future I can make for myself. Immigration reform can and will bring incredible resources, once untapped, to the forefront of this country.
FWD.us: What have been some challenges you've each faced because of our broken immigration system?
Jorge: In 2005 our immigration status changed drastically. We went from being under the radar, virtually invisible since 1993, to being on the brink of deportation at any given notice for the next six years. It was during those six years we were placed in a state of limbo. My father was unable to work, and being the main provider for our family, we had to go through a difficult financial time trying to make ends meet.
Even though we were under some pretty hard times our family knew that no matter what school had to continue. It was a psychological battle to keep animated about going to school, and to keep thinking that everything will be alright as long as we continued to move forward together with no drivers license, no reliable source of income, and no viable immigration solutions in sight. The challenges we faced definitely set us back, and in some small ways defeated each of us, but together we were able to move forward. After twenty years of trying our family can now see the future we've collectively worked for on the horizon.
Edgar: I could say the sense of insecurity about ones future, the feeling of not fitting in, or the frustration, but that would be naming challenges everyone faces. The biggest challenge was the problem itself, it was not letting immigration be an excuse to give up.
FWD.us: How do you feel about participating in the Hackathon together, as brothers?
Jorge: It is an honor to be able to participate in this Hackathon. We both have been patient and working hard in order to be able to take advantage of opportunities when they come up, and we feel like this event might be what we have been waiting and preparing for.
Me and my brother had a slight academic rivalry going on when we were younger, but as we grew older we realized that our expertise and abilities different from one another. Like all brothers, we do tend to argue, and be a bit headstrong about our own ways of doing things. During these past few years I think we were able to understand one another better, and this helped us to work closer with one another. We worked together or helped each other out with various programs, and have helped each other with programming concepts and ideas by using our strengths.
Due to school and work schedules conflicting we haven't worked much with each other in the past months, but we share tidbits of information once in a while. This Hackathon would be a good measure to use to see how much each of us has learned in the last several months. To be able to share this experience with my brother will definitely makes me feel more confident in participating in the event.
Edgar: I am happy for my brother, we both understand that this is a very great experience. But during the hackathon, I think we will be more like fellow engineers. We both know why we are going and what we are there to do. I hope that in the middle of all the creative process, all the energy, all the work the lines between brothers is blurred and we realize that we are all there for the same reason, that our goal is the same. That's what a Hackathon is, bringing together different types of people to build a single project.
FWD.us: What is the biggest strength you each bring to the Hackathon?
Jorge: The only thing that rivals my time spent on programming is probably my time spent on my passion for art. I feel like I have a proficiency in design that could be put to use if there is a need for editing, manipulating, or creating a look for whatever we develop. Creativity has been one of my stronger points.
Edgar: I am motivated and ready to work, but my biggest strength is making my work environment a little less stressful. I like to joke with people, get to know them. It makes the whole seeing each other everyday and having to communicate with each other a whole a lot easier.
FWD.us: What are you most looking forward to when it comes to the Hackathon? Any ideas on what you'd like to achieve?
Edgar: Like any engineer would say, I look forward to making a product that works as intended. I chose computer science for the ability to use technology to build things that could change the way we live our lives. I look forward to learning new things and have a chance to challenge myself. I hope to demonstrate the talent we offer and that given the chance we have to ability to produce some amazing things.
Jorge: The one thing I definitely look forward to is meeting the rest of the participants. The most valuable resource on this planet is manpower. People are what drives everything in this world, and the knowledge they carry with them to accomplish that is just as valuable. I'm more interested in meeting people and sharing their ways of thought because they are the ones with the ideas that otherwise wouldn't have crossed your mind. I hope to take full advantage of this experience and opportunity to absorb and learn as much as I can from the other participants.
One week from today, I will be joining 19 other DREAMers at LinkedIn headquarters in Mountain View, CA for the FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon.
I'm looking forward to helping create something that will move our country forward. I’m also interested to meet the other DREAMers and see what they are like. I want to learn their stories, hear their experiences, and understand who they are. Of course, I’m also looking forward to meeting Mark Zuckerberg.
Why I Support Immigration Reform
I believe reform is a smart step for our country because it would allow millions of people to work in jobs for which they are already qualified.
I came to this country at age six and didn’t realize I was undocumented until I tried to get a driver’s license. My immigration status has made it difficult to justify some of my biggest life decisions. Someone once asked me, "Why are you going to college if you won't be able to use your degree?"
At one point I did lose hope of ever being able to work legally, and thought I might have to find other ways to contribute. It’s difficult to aim high when there's a ceiling limiting your success.
Nevertheless, I studied computer science in college and a startup in New York that was in Techstars wanted to hire me. Unfortunately, our broken immigration system delayed my career.
My employer, Poptip, tried to hire me in February 2012. Poptip's founder, Kelsey Falter, went to several top immigration lawyers for advice. We tried filing for two types of visas, but ultimately I didn't qualify.
It was only when DACA passed in the summer of 2012, providing a temporary work permit, that I had an actual chance to join the team. I finally met my team in person 15 months after first meeting Kelsey online.
Now, in addition to working at Poptip, I have an incredible opportunity to participate in the FWD.us DREAMer Hackathon next week.
My friends and colleagues were excited to hear about the event. Kelsey even suggested the idea of an online service to help lawyers file immigration applications. Whatever my team creates at the Hackathon, I’ll bring my perfectionism and attention to detail to the project.
On November 2-3, 2013, Basswood Research conducted a survey of likely general election voters in 20 congressional districts. These districts are widely viewed as the 20 most competitive ones currently held by Republican incumbents. The districts surveyed were: CA-10, CA-21, CO-6, FL-2, FL-10, IA-3, IL-13, IN-2, MI-1, MI-7, MI-11, MN-2, NE-2, NV-3, NY-11, NY-19, NY-23, OH-6, OH-14, PA-8. The survey was conducted by live professional interviewers by telephone. The overall sample size was 1000, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%, at a 95% confidence interval. Each district contributed 50 interviews to the sample; as such, data in individual districts is much less reliable.
- Voters in key Republican districts are highly dissatisfied with political leadership in Washington across-the-board.
President Obama’s job approval rating is poor, with 41% approving and 58% disapproving. “Democrats in Congress” fare even worse, with 34% approving, and 63% disapproving. But it is “Republicans in Congress” who are in the worst shape in these Republican districts, with 27% approving and 70% disapproving of their job performance.
- Voters in key Republican districts want action on immigration reform.
Fixing the current immigration system is rated as “very important” by 70% of voters in these districts. An additional 23% rate action on immigration reform as “somewhat important.” Only 5% rate immigration reform as either “not very important” or “not at all important.”
- Voters prefer an imperfect immigration solution to no solution.
When given a choice between leaving the current immigration system the way it is, and “passing new laws that are not perfect, but do attempt to fix the serious flaws in the current system,” voters choose imperfect solutions over the status quo by a massive 77%-15% margin. That includes 67% of voters who consider themselves “very conservative,” and 72% of registered or affiliated Republicans.
- The major elements of the comprehensive immigration reform proposals being considered in Congress have widespread support in these key Republican districts.
E-Verify: 80% support; 13% oppose
Dream Act: 78% support; 16% oppose
Earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented: 71% support; 21% oppose
Increasing fines for employers who hire undocumented immigrants: 72% support; 23% oppose
Increasing border patrol and border fencing: 67% support; 24% oppose
Increasing high tech legal immigration: 62% support; 30% oppose
- The combination of enhanced border security and pathway to citizenship represents a consensus position.
When presented with three options regarding the interconnection between border security to prevent future illegal immigration and citizenship for those who are presently in the country and undocumented, the following responses were found:
17% oppose a pathway to citizenship under all circumstances;
26% favor a pathway to citizenship even without any increase in border security;
50% favor a pathway to citizenship if it also includes substantially increased border security.
76% favor a pathway to citizenship, with or without enhanced border security.
- The partisan composition of these 20 districts favors Republicans.
By party registration/affiliation, respondents in this survey were 39% Republican, 35% Democratic, and 23% Independent. The generic party preference for Congress was +6.7 points Republican.
General election voters in these districts, including Republicans, support all the key provisions of comprehensive immigration reform by wide margins. Generally, the proposals regarding earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants are no less popular than the provisions regarding enhanced border security and employer sanctions. Action on these widely supported immigration reforms would be welcomed by voters who are highly dissatisfied by the dysfunction in Washington.
Today we’re thrilled to announce the DREAMer engineers and product designers who will be joining our Hackathon on November 20th & November 21st. Hundreds of applicants took the time to apply, and we were extremely impressed with the breadth of their experience, their perseverance in the face of incredible odds, and the passion they have for immigration reform and for tech. We're pleased to be inviting 20 DREAMers to code with some of the top engineers and designers in the industry today.
It’s well past time that we fix our broken immigration system – which isn’t working for American families in a modern global economy. Millions of DREAMers and their families with stories just like those participating in the Hackathon wait in limbo, unable to contribute fully to their communities and having to live in constant uncertainty – and we can’t wait any longer.
The DREAMers will form teams with experienced mentors during the Hackathon and work together to build out prototypes of products to aid the immigration reform movement. Their creations will help spread the word: Americans want immigration reform now.
Some of the top product innovators of our time will be on hand to provide guidance on projects, including Mark Zuckerberg, Drew Houston, Reid Hoffman, and Andrew Mason.
Our DREAMers are each an embodiment of the pressing need for meaningful immigration reform. They come from all over the country and a variety of backgrounds, but are united by the unique challenges facing undocumented families across America. Too many of our participants have gone years without seeing a family member or have been turned down for scholarships to college based solely on their undocumented status, but their courage has spurred them to continue pursuing their dreams.
We're excited to see what our DREAMers and mentors produce during the Hackathon. Teams will begin strategizing together in the next few weeks, with their work culminating in 24 straight hours of coding at LinkedIn HQ.
FWD.us is proud to celebrate the talents and courageous perseverance of the following DREAMers for our DREAMer Hackathon:
LUIS AGUILAR, 25, Falls Church, VA Luis immigrated to the United States at the age of 9 from Mexico. He attended the Northern Virginia Community College, but due to high costs of out-of-state tuition, Luis was forced to withdraw from school. He currently teaches himself how to code from Internet classes. He is an advocate for immigration reform as an active member of the Dreamers of Virginia student organization. To Luis, immigration reform means justice and dignity for the 11 million aspiring Americans in the United States and the opportunity to see his father, who was deported from the United States when Luis was 15, and whom he hasn’t seen since.
GERARDO ALVARADO, 25, Milwaukee, WI Gerardo is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he is majoring in Information Technology Management. He plans to pursue a career in the technology field as well as to organize within the immigrant community. Gerardo currently organizes the immigrant community in Wisconsin with Voces de la Frontera and Youth Empowered in the Struggle. To Gerardo, immigration reform means that he will be able to get a job and take care of his family, especially his mother.
ISABEL BAHENA, 23, San Leandro, CA Isabel came to the United States ten years ago from Mexico. Even though Isabel was pushed back a year during middle school because of her recent arrival to the United States, she excelled during her high school years. Isabel was the first member of her family to graduate from college. After having to turn down the opportunity for college scholarships due to her status, Isabel stayed close to home to afford college where she graduated from California State University East Bay and obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science. To Isabel, immigration reform means the opportunity finally to become visible in this country.
SARAHI ESPINOZA, 23, East Palo Alto, CA Sarahi Espinoza had to stop attending school in order to care for her father, who was ill with cancer. She now attends Cañada College and created her own website, Sarahi.tv, where she hopes to inspire other young people to go back to college regardless of their circumstances. When her web developer stopped replying to assist her, Sarahi took matters into her own hands and taught herself how to code. She hopes immigration reform will mean she can be reunited with her mother, who returned to Mexico to petition into the U.S. through the legal system and has been stuck in limbo for 8 years.
ROLY FENTANTES, 25, New York, NY Roly came to the United States at age six. Growing up, he was unaware of his undocumented status until he attempted to get a driver’s license. He majored in Computer Science during his college years; now that he has received his DACA, he is working for Poptip, a start up in New York City that wanted to hire him 15 months prior but could not due to his undocumented status. For Roly, immigration reform means that the millions who are already here – and capable of working and contributing to this country – can do so without worry.
ERICK GARCIA, 27, Mesa, AZ Erick Garcia came to the United States at the age of 11 from Veracruz, Mexico. He has two sisters who are both U.S. Citizens. He earned a full scholarship to Arizona State University, and then lost it due to Arizona’s immigration laws and had to take a year off of college. After finding another private scholarship, he persevered and graduated from ASU in 2011. He is a digital organizer for immigration reform through the DRM Action Coalition and Presente.org. To Erick, immigration reform means mean peace and tranquility, as human beings all have the right to search for a better life for their families.
JAY HU, 23, New York, NY Jay immigrated to the United States from China. He is a graduate of Queens College in Queens, New York. After receiving his DACA, Jay now is able to work with Hub City Media as an Implementation Specialist. In his free time, Jay likes to work on development projects. To Jay, immigration reform means an opportunity not to have to worry about his future in the United States, which would allow him to focus more intently on his career and become a better developer.
RAHUL KAPADIA, 23, Santa Barbara, CA Rahul is a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, where he studied computer science. Rahul has been programming for five years and is currently working for a startup in Santa Barbara. To Rahul, immigration reform is important in helping ease the barriers to higher education that he and other DREAMers encounter, which will make it possible for undocumented immigrants to make positive impacts in our economy and country.
HENRY LOPEZ, 19, Falls Church, VA Henry arrived in the United States from Guatemala at the age of four. He is currently a freshman at George Mason University studying Computer Science. He was first exposed to computers through CodeNow, which is a program that introduces the basics of computer programming to minority students in the Washington, D.C. area. Beyond his academic achievements, he advocates for immigration reform as an active member of the Dreamers of Virginia student organization. To Henry, immigration reform means giving the 11 million aspiring Americans in the United States the opportunity to prove that they are hard-working citizens.
ROCIO LOPEZ, 24, Mountain View, CA Rocio, a design thinker, is a graduate of Columbia University. After receiving her DACA, Rocio successfully secured a position at Cisco. Rocio believes that immigration is a complex challenge that needs to be addressed together with people of multidisciplinary fields to influence the stakeholders who can pass comprehensive immigration reform. She hopes that immigration reform will mean a permanent solution to DREAMers like herself to contribute fully to the United States.
CELSO MIRELES, 26, Phoenix, AZ Celso currently works as a leading online strategist for United We Dream – the largest national immigrant-youth led organization – which aims to address the inequities and obstacles faced by immigrant youth. Celso is a multi-faceted digital organizer with graphic design and video production skills. To Celso, immigration reform will mean that his father will be able to get a job and be with his family rather than working two states away.
JUSTINO MORA, 24, Los Angeles, CA Justino fled from his abusive father to the United States with his mother and two siblings when he was eleven years old. He is currently studying Computer Science and Political Science at UCLA and works as an independent contractor to help fund his college education. Besides his academic achievements, he is an activist and organizer in the Los Angeles area with CHIRLA and the CA Dream Network. To Justino, immigration reform means hope and the much-needed opportunity for undocumented members of his family and community to obtain the respect they deserve, shed their fear, and empower themselves to put an end to the oppression and humiliation they face at work.
ERICK ORELLANA, 24, Patchogue, NY Erick immigrated to the United States from Ecuador at the age of three. From a young age, Erick has had a passion for technology and computers, which furthered his curiosity in the worlds of software engineering, hardware engineering, digital art, digital photography, and electronic production. To Erick, immigration reform means being able to proclaim that he is American and that he has fought for the privilege to be able to prove it.
EDSON SIERRA, 20, Charlotte, NC Edson came to the United States 11 years ago with his mother. He is a sophomore studying computer science at the University of North Carolina Charlotte. To help pay for college, Edson has worked in landscaping, as a dishwasher, and a busboy. His passion for computers started at the age of twelve when his mother bough him an old PC. He is looking forward to the Hackathon, as it would help him promote some of his ideals of empowering low-income students to pursue education through technology. To Edson, immigration reform means the opportunity to pursue his dreams of attending graduate school and helping students in similar situations.
KENT TAM, 24, Los Angeles, CA Kent is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, where he majored in Electrical Engineering & Computer Sciences. Due to his inability to acquire a job, Kent did freelance work and picked up HTML/CSS in his free time. Kent believes that technology is not discriminatory, as he could be judged based on his work produced instead of his immigration status. To Kent, immigration reform means that he will be able to reunite with his mother and father, who he hasn’t seen for ten years.
DAYANA TORRES, 19, Fairfax, VA Dayana is currently an honors student at George Mason University where she is majoring in Computer Science; she speaks 4 languages. Dayana became an immigration reform advocate when she realized she could not accept any of the 5 full-ride college scholarships she was offered, as she did not have a social security number. She currently serves as the President of Dreamers of Virginia, where she organizes undocumented youth around access to education and immigration reform.
EDGAR TORRES, 26, Oceanside, CA Edgar arrived in the United States as a small child, and calls the U.S. his home. He is a graduate student in the Computer Science Department at the San Diego State University, and is currently interning as a software engineer. To Edgar, immigration reforms means that the effort he put into his education will be worthwhile, and that his family will be able to stay together. He will be participating with his brother, Jorge Torres.
JORGE TORRES, 27, Oceanside, CA Jorge Torres was born in Mexico and moved to the United States as a child with his family. He excelled academically in high school where he participated in the IB program. After working to help his family pay the bills when his father was denied a work permit, Jorge focused on school and is now a senior majoring in Computer Science at Cal State University - San Marcos. To Jorge, immigration reform means that dreams can become a reality. He will be participating in the Hackathon with his brother, Edgar Torres.
CARLOS VARGAS, 28, New York, NY Carlos came to the United States from Mexico at the age of five when his father passed away and his mother wanted to provide him with a promising future. In order to help care for his family, he began to work as a busboy and waiter at the age of 13. Carlos anticipates graduating college with a Bachelors of Science in Economics. He is an organizer in his community and manages the website and social media network for DRM Action Coalition, an organization that advocates for immigration reform. To Carlos, immigration reform means an opportunity to make America a better and stronger country.
You don't have to be at LinkedIn HQ to follow the developments at the Hackathon. We'll be providing real-time updates on social media and livestreaming the event from inside the hackspace at LinkedIn HQ. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to make sure you stay up-to-date.
And please join us in supporting meaningful immigration reform: we need to make sure that members of Congress hear from people like you that the time is now for reform. For these 20 DREAMers – and the millions of others like them – we simply can’t afford to wait any longer.