As part of No Le Digas a Nadie (Don’t Tell Anyone), we met young people and families who told us surprising, painful and even positive accounts of what it means to not have a legal status. We launched DontTellAnyonePOV StoryCorps Keyword Campaign online as a way to invite our audience in the undocumented community to share their experiences.

We told the story of Angy Rivera and her mother Maria Yolanda Rivera, focusing on one family’s struggle and resilience, but the undocumented community is diverse. It includes families, students, the professional workforce and the working class. Much attention is focused on undocumented immigrants from Latin America and Mexico but there are undocumented immigrants living in the United States from the Philippines, Haiti, Poland and other countries. Unlike Angy and her mother, a majority of the 11 million undocumented people in this country have no current pathway to a legal status, let alone citizenship.

I have been reporting on immigration for six years. I continue to be surprised by ways our system affects single people and families’ everyday lives who contribute to the well-being of our society. Immigrants arrive here as children to reunite with parents, as parents seeking education and safety for their kids, and as single people working three jobs to send money home and to escape life-threatening poverty and violence in their home countries. This online platform records and shares harrowing and everyday stories of life with an undocumented status.

In April, we recorded six interviews in StoryCorps’ lower Manhattan booth for our campaign. It was an emotional and powerful day. I tweeted about the day. Join our campaign. Host a recording party. Help us build this online space for those we love and value to share their stories. Below are audio links to each participant’s story:

“DACA applicants earn every right to be American. They are the epitome of the American Dream and the embodiment of the American character.” Olivia Quinto, a lawyer who was undocumented for over twenty years, chats with Rutgers Law classmates Diego Iniguez-Lopez and Victor Monterrosa, Jr., about how their personal histories transform into the political as immigrant rights’ activists. Listen here.

“Nos conocimos en un concierto de Julieta Venegas en Central Park.” Marco y su esposa Felicia hablan de como es criar a dos niños pequeños en un matrimonio en el cual uno de ellos es indocumentado. “Estamos tomando un gran riesgo.” Mientras un amigo cuida a sus niños afuera, Marco y Felicia nos cuentan que su conversación aquí adentro de esta caseta es la primera en mucho tiempo en la cual han podido hablar a solas acerca de su situación.” | “We met at a Julieta Venegas concert in Central Park.” Marco and his wife Felicia share what it’s like to raise two young children in a mixed-status marriage, where one partner has an undocumented status. “We’re taking a very big risk.” As a friend watches the kids outside, they tell us that their their conversation inside the booth is the first in a long time that they’ve had to talk alone about their situation. Listen here.

“I am a human being. I am missing a piece of paper but I am not illegal- I am a human being.” Christara, a high school senior from Haiti enters the booth with a beaming, beautiful smile. Christara speaks with her teacher Jenn about her struggle to pay for the colleges she’s already been accepted to and that going back to her home country is not an option. “When you tell someone ‘go back to your country,’ you might as well be telling them, go die.” Listen here.

“Deseo que todos mis hijos tengan exito a pesar de que algunos son indocumentados. [Como padres] sacrificamos estar [indocumentados] en los Estados Unidos por la educación de nuestros hijos. Quiero que mis hijos aprecien la vida en los Estados Unidos, pero espero que tambien valoren la cultura Mexicana.” Maria es intrevistada por su hija Liz, quién se ha convertido en una amiga cercana de mi. Pueden escuchar mi entrevista con Liz aqui. | “I hope all my children are successful although some are undocumented. [As parents] we sacrifice staying [undocumented] in the U.S. for our children’s education. I want them to appreciate life in the U.S., but also hope they value Mexican culture.” Maria is interviewed by her daughter Liz, who has become a close friend of mine. They were photographed outside the New York City StoryCorp booth across from the courthouse. Listen here.

“It would mean the world to me to graduate college. If I could somehow return and show my grandmother that I accomplished something and that our separation was not for nothing.” Joselyn,18, speaks to her boyfriend, Luis, 19, about the difficulties of college. After being raised by her grandmother, Joselyn moved alone to the United States from Ecuador at nine-years old. She moved in with her parents, who had left when Joselyn was very young in order to earn enough money to put food on the family’s table. Listen here.

“Estoy libre. Tengo libertad.” Teresa Gonzalez (derecho) habla con su colega se llama Mariana Alonso-Jusufay (izquierda,) de como los Estados Unidos le ha dado derechos como mujer para separarse de un esposo abusivo. En cunato entra en la cabina de grabación, detecto su confianza y fuerza de carácter. Sus colegas dicen que Teresa es una cuidadora de ancianos excepcional y una madre orgullosa de cuatro hijos; tres recibieron DACA, uno recibio un título universitario y el más joven empieza la universidad este año. | “Estoy libre. Tengo libertad.” Teresa Gonzalez (right) speaks with her coworker Mariana Alonso-Jusufay (left) about how the U.S. has given Teresa rights as a woman to separate from her abusive husband. As soon as she enters the booth, I detect her confidence and strength of character. Coworkers say Teresa is an exceptional caregiver to the elderly and a proud mother of four children; three children are DACA recipients, one has received a college degree and her youngest is entering college this year. Listen here.

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Published by

Alexandra Nikolchev
Alexandra Nikolchev is a documentary filmmaker and co-founding partner of Hot in Here Productions. Recent producer credits include PBS feature length documentary "Don't Tell Anyone (No Le Digas a Nadie)" and "Crossing the Line at the Border," an Emmy award-winning broadcast investigation into the U.S. Border Patrol.