Hometown DREAMer Astrid Silva said Saturday that as an undocumented immigrant tapped to give the Spanish-language response to President Donald Trump’s address to Congress, she has a “big responsibility.”
She said it was “a very bold move” for the Democratic Party to choose her as one of two people who will respond to Trump’s speech Tuesday night. The other is former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear.
“It is the Democratic Party reaching their hand out to our undocumented community,” she said, “and telling us that they’re with us.”
Silva said she will talk to the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“I want to make sure people understand we still have a say,” she said, and that despite the fear generated by Trump’s efforts to crack down on immigration, “There is a lot that can be done. Not everything is doom.”
Also, she said, she wants adversaries of the immigrant community “to see there is a real human side to this” and that the Latino community’s interests and concerns are broad, extending beyond immigration.
“We care about climate change, we care about education, we care about women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights,” she said, adding that the Affordable Care Act is also a top priority.
Silva, who came to the United States from Mexico at age 4, is a so-called DREAMer who has benefited from former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides undocumented students and military personnel with work permits and deferred deportation.
“As a DREAMer who came to this country with her family seeking a better life, Astrid Silva embodies the exact principles upon which our country was founded,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of New York said in a statement.
“America has a grand and proud tradition of welcoming immigrants and families like hers with open arms,” he said. “Her activism and steadfast commitment to fighting for a fair immigration system (have) been nothing short of inspiring.”
Silva co-founded DREAM Big Vegas, an organization raising awareness about the importance of educating undocumented youth. She’s also a former organizing director for PLAN Action, the political arm of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, and was named Youth Immigrant of the Year by the American Immigration Council in 2014.
In 2016, Silva took the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, telling delegates about her family’s journey to the United States, how they “risked everything for the American dream,” and how a Trump administration would rip immigrant families apart.
In a statement about her response to Trump’s speech, Silva had a similar message: “It is more important than ever that we show the American people the real faces of immigrants and that we push back on President Trump and Republicans’ plan and vision for America.
“Rather than separating immigrant families,” she said, “President Trump should be working to create more jobs, expand access to quality affordable health care and education for all Americans.”