Adrián Escárate (San Francisco, CA) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Field Organizer, Define American
Adrian was born in Santiago, Chile, and moved to the United States when he was 3 years old. He grew up in Miami, Florida and although undocumented, through academic and athletic scholarships as an elite tennis player, he was able to attend the University of North Florida for his collegiate freshman year, later transferring to St. Thomas University where he finalized his last three collegiate tennis years. Adrian graduated from St. Thomas University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications Arts with Cum Laude honors in December 2011. Most recently, Adrian graduated with his Masters of Arts degree in Communications specializing in Electronic Media from St. Thomas University in May 2019. He is currently working at an immigration nonprofit organization focused on cultural media change through storytelling called Define American.
Ana Cueva (Lehi, UT)
Registered Nurse, Intermountain Medical Center
Ana Cueva has called Utah home since 1998, when she was five years old. From this young age, she was always taught the importance of education, hard work, and family. Beyond the values her parents instilled in her, her future was also shaped when, a year after arriving to this country, her mom became very ill. This experience gave her a desire to help others and began to forge a path on her journey to find her calling in nursing. In fact, nursing solidified as her American Dream when she was nine. To achieve this dream, she understood how important it was to honor her parents’ decisions and dedicated herself to her education and community. As a teenager, Ana quickly became a volunteer at her local hospital and later was elected as the President of the National Honor Society for her high school chapter. She attended an accelerated high school and earned her Associates Degree in Sciences at age 17, and graduated in the top 10% of her senior class. She continued her studies a year later with the help of DACA. Now, Ana prides herself in being able to say she achieved her professional dream of being a Registered Nurse-BSN. She is currently working as a Shock-Trauma ICU nurse at a trauma center in northern California, and previously worked at a level one trauma center in Utah. She graduated with High Honors from Utah Valley University in December of 2016.
Cecilia Martinez (Long Island, NY) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Advocate, National TPS Alliance
Cecilia is originally from El Salvador and has Temporary Protected Status (TPS). She migrated to Long Island in 1998 when she was 16 and received temporary legal protection from deportation under TPS in 2001. Cecilia is a member of a national alliance of organizations that have advocated for the renewal of TPS for all participating countries. She is a local business owner and has a teenage son and daughter.
Denisse Rojas (New York)
Medical Student, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Denisse has lived in the United States for the last 29 years and wants to serve as a bridge to healthcare for underserved communities in America. She became one of the first undocumented students to enroll at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she is a fourth-year medical student. She is also enrolled at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government pursuing a masters in public policy. Denisse is a medical worker fighting on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elias Rosenfeld (Waltham, MA) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Government Relations and Special Projects Fellow, FWD.us
Shortly after the death of his mother in 2009, Elias found out from US Citizenship and Immigration Services that he was undocumented. While studying at Brandeis University, he founded United Student Immigrants (USI) as a student-led community-based organization that was able to partner with existing organizations to assist over 300 undocumented students attain and afford a college education. Sadly, recently Elias was unable to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Venezuela because DACA was ended. His leadership has been extensive and led him to serve on the Clinton Campaign NH Coordinated Team where he assisted with field organization and minority mobilization. Additionally, Elias formed the National Coalition for DACA Students; a student-led grassroots advocacy coalition based out of universities across the nation, which seeks to advance goals to protect such students from harmful immigration policies. Finally, Elias had the honor of interning with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Esmeralda Tovar (Hutchinson, KS)
Mother & Nursing Assistant
Esmeralda came to Kansas from Mexico when she was eighteen months old and has lived in the United States her entire life. She is working on two bachelor degrees. One in nursing and the other in general studies concentrated on criminal justice, sociology, and women’s/ethnic and religion studies. She is currently working as a case manager for a mental health center and a medication aide at a nursing home. Her husband, Michael, is in the military and served a deployment overseas in 2018. Esmeralda and her husband are parents to a three-year-old U.S. citizen daughter.
Javier R. Quiroz Castro (Houston, TX) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Javier was brought to the United States when he was around 3 years old and later graduated with a Bachelor’s in Science of Nursing from Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN in May 2013. DACA was implemented in late 2012, just in time to allow him to obtain a registered nurse licensure. Javier transferred to Houston, TX where he has worked in the largest not-for-profit hospital system, Memorial Hermann, and is currently working at Houston Methodist Hospital, the #1 hospital system in Texas. He is a part of the team taking care of patients at the designated COVID-19 cohort for his hospital. While he sees this as an honor, Javier worries of bringing the virus into his home where he and his wife are raising an 11 month old daughter. Javier has received multiple nursing awards for his dedicated care to his patients and is incredibly grateful to DACA for allowing him to build his career as a nurse.
Jesus Contreras (Houston, TX)
Paramedic, Montgomery County Hospital District
Jesus graduated from Lonestar College’s Paramedic Program in 2016, and looks forward to a resolution on DACA in order to continue serving his community as a paramedic. Jesus came to the United States from Mexico in 1999 and currently lives in Houston, Texas. When he is not on duty, Jesus is also a volunteer camera operator at his church.
Juan Escalante (Washington, D.C. and Florida) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Digital Campaigns Manager, FWD.us
Juan Escalante’s parents fled Venezuela in the year 2000, with Juan and his two brothers in tow, for the United States following the election of Hugo Chavez. In 2006, an immigration attorney mishandled the Escalantes’ case, which led them to lose their immigration status despite “waiting in line” while paying taxes and immigration fees. By the time President Obama announced the DACA program in 2012, Juan had graduated from Florida State University with a political science degree and had helped spearhead some of the digital tactics used in immigration-related campaigns across the country. Thanks to DACA, Juan was able to return to FSU and obtained a master’s degree in public administration in 2015. He has remained a fierce and relentless advocate for immigrant rights. Escalante’s work has been highlighted and published in a wide range of publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Univision, and CNN.
Lessandro DeSousa (San Jose, CA)
Owner, SVE Cheer
Lessandro is a business owner who helps children grow through fitness and the competitive sport of cheerleading. The DACA program has enabled him to work legally and to strive towards his goals which included starting his own cheerleading gym, and in the future create both hardware and software that will revolutionise cheerleading and gymnastics. Lessandro sees his greatest achievement as being that he was able to pay of his parents’ debt which allowed for his mother’s cake business to take off.
Lu Pacheco (Silverthorne, CO) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Student, Accelerated Nursing Program (currently works at a hospital in Denver)
Born and raised in Costa Rica, Lu’s parents brought her to the U.S. when she was thirteen to pursue better work and educational opportunities. The culture shock was immense and she struggled to assimilate into the American life. For many years, she and her family attempted to obtain legal residency “the right way,” but the system is broken. Eventually, they became undocumented. Lu focused on her education and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Soon after, she was awarded DACA and for the first time ever was able to have a job and pursue volunteer and internship opportunities in the healthcare field. She worked as an EMT for several years and fell in love with caring for others. Lu is now about to complete her second Bachelor’s in Nursing, with the goal of becoming an Emergency Room Nurse and a teacher to future nurses. Being able to renew her DACA will allow Lu to continue her important work as a Nurse without fear of deportation.
Maria Morales Moreno (Denver, CO) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Teacher, Denver Public Schools
Maria Morales is a teacher at Denver Public Schools. At an early age, Maria knew she wanted to become a teacher. Now that her dream is a reality and the future of DACA is uncertain, Maria fears leaving the classroom and abandoning her students. She moved to the United States with her family when she was only 12 years old. Her family was seeking a better life filled with opportunities for her and her siblings. Maria grew up and attended college in Greenwood, South Carolina. Her DACA status prevented her from paying in-state tuition and teaching in South Carolina, but this did not deter her from continuing her education and pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher. After graduating college, Maria decided to join Teach For America and teach in Colorado. Maria loves the community she is serving, she has built strong relationships with families and students and for her home is here, where her students are.
Maria Praeli (Washington, D.C.)
Government Relations Manager, FWD.us
Maria Praeli moved to the United States from Peru in 1999 when she was five years old to seek medical treatment for her sister, whose leg was amputated in a car accident. Today, Maria is the government relations manager at FWD.us. Her work focuses on strengthening outreach efforts to elected officials, providing education and resources on immigration policy to congressional offices, and working on special projects related to Dreamers and TPS holders. Prior to joining FWD.us, Maria was the deputy director for canvass at Mi Familia Vota, where she worked on initiatives to build broad community partnerships and drive stronger voter engagement in Nevada. After moving from Peru, Maria attended public schools in Connecticut before earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Gateway Community College, and then a bachelor’s degree in political science from Quinnipiac University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Miluska Aquije (Brooklyn, NY) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Discipleship Pastoral Resident/Entrepreneur
Miluska E. Aquije had no idea she was undocumented until having to apply for college and finding out she had no social security number. Through the support of her faith community both on and off campus she was able to pursue her BA graduating as a double major in psychology and religion. With the help of DACA, it enabled her to go into the field of higher education administration, financially help her family and pursue her Masters in Professional Studies in urban ministry. She worked as an enrollment manager, faculty, and youth seminary coordinator for City Seminary of New York (CSNY). She has served in various faith communities as a youth leader and mentor ever since 2005, believing both in the present and future generations resilience of trauma, physical, sexual, mental and/or spiritual abuse, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, and gender. Recently, she founded “Hoping Greatly” with the mission to equip, empower and escalate undocumented immigrants and/or curious allies as a storyteller speaking her immigration journey bridging faith and social justice.
Pamela Chomba (Washington, D.C.) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Director of State Immigration Campaigns, FWD.us
Pamela Chomba is the Director of State Immigration Campaigns for FWD.us, a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. Pamela was born in Lima, Peru, and immigrated with her family to the U.S. in 2001. She has dedicated her career to organizing people-power through state legislative policies across the country, empowering students to become participants in the electoral process, and mentoring undocumented young adults. Prior to FWD.us, Pamela worked for Sen. Cory Booker’s special Senate election in New Jersey and moved to Texas in 2014 to work with community leaders in African-American and Latinx across Harris County. Her work is centered in community storytelling. Her goal is to elevate leaders in typically-marginalized communities despite government barriers. Pamela continues to fight for Dreamers like herself, undocumented family members, and her beloved Jersey. Pamela received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
Roxana Chicas (Atlanta, GA)
Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University
Roxana Chicas, BSN, RN, is a PhD candidate and clinical instructor at Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. A former TPS holder from El Salvador, Chicas was a member of the inaugural class of the Bridges to the Baccalaureate Scholar program at Emory, which supports nurses from underrepresented groups to attain nursing bachelor’s degrees. As a bilingual and bicultural nursing scholar, Chicas focuses on environmental exposures and occupational health hazards among immigrant agricultural workers. Chicas supports research training and provides nursing care to underserved communities through establishing community partnerships. In partnership with the Farmworker Association of Florida, Chicas designed a pilot study to examine cooling interventions to keep agricultural workers safe while working in hot and humid environments. This study was implemented through awards from both the University of South Florida Sunshine Pilot Grant and the American Association of Occupational health Nurses New Investigator Research Grant. Chicas is a co-founder and the vice-president of the Georgia Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
Samuel Cervantes (Arlington, VA, and Houston, TX) – AVAILABLE FOR MEDIA IN ENGLISH & SPANISH
Research Associate, FWD.us
Samuel Cervantes is an immigration policy researcher and advocate. Born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and raised in Houston, Texas, he is the oldest child in a family of four and the first of his family to attend college. Shaped by his background growing up as the gay son of an undocumented Mexican-American family, Samuel began his career as a political activist at the state level, where he worked in campaigns to protect in-state tuition for undocumented students and against anti-immigrant legislation in Texas with the University Leadership Initiative. Samuel interned at the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Texas State Legislature, in addition to completing the Bill Archer Fellowship in Washington, DC, and the Public Policy International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a communications degree, Samuel now works as a Research Associate at FWD.us in Washington D.C.
Wilna Destin (Orlando, FL)
UNITEHERE! LOCAL 737 Member
Wilna Destin is a mother, wife and TPS holder from Orlando. She is a leader with UNITEHERE! LOCAL 737 in Orlando. She’s also a plaintiff in the TPS lawsuit. Destin fled Haiti in 2000 when she didn’t have any other options. She’s a hard working woman fighting for her family, neighbors, and community to be a better place to live. Like many other TPS holders, Destin has contributed to her community by paying taxes, keeping her community safe, leading in her Christian community and fighting for a better Florida. She is a proud TPS holder and a proud Orlando resident.