25 year-old Angy Paola Rivera has not had an easy life. After leaving her home country of Colombia with her mother at the age of four, she grew up undocumented. It wasn’t until she began working in immigration activism with the New York State Youth Leadership Council (NYSYLC) and started writing an advice column, “Ask Angy”, at the end of her high school career that she finally found the courage to come out as an undocumented citizen. The column provides the full story of her own experience and offers advice for those experiencing a similar situation.
In 2012, when POTUS Barack Obama issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Rivera was given an unexpected opportunity. The program allows qualified undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children to gain temporary protection from deportation. Rivera qualified, and was eligible to receive a U visa, typically given to victims of crimes in the United States.
Rivera’s activism and her earnest interest in helping others – as well as her tenacity in telling her own story – have earned her the American Immigration Council’s Immigrant Youth Achievement Award. At the 21st Annual Immigrant Achievement Awards on April 7th she will be honored alongside other notable dreamers, such as Donald Graham, who co-founded TheDream.US, a national scholarship fund for DREAMers.
Rivera was also placed center stage in the documentary “No le Digas a Nadie” (“Don’t Tell Anyone”) which focuses on the challenges of living as an undocumented immigrant. The film follows her story both about coming out as a dreamer and speaking about her experience of childhood sexual abuse.
Soon to graduate from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a degree in Culture and Deviance Studies, Rivera has every intention of continuing her activism. In her own words, she hopes to "inform other DREAMers of their rights and resources, and help them realize the power undocumented youth have in society.”