Welcome Belén Sisa, immigration activist, Bernie 2016 campaign alum, and member of the #Dream7 to the Immigration MIC podcast!
Belen was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina - her family moved to the US right before the collapse of the Argentinean economy in 2001 to Arizona during the construction boom years.
Because she and her family were “white passing”, they fit in in their middle class white neighborhood and were able to keep their undocumented status hidden. She talks about how later on, her family buying a house in a different neighborhood near a detention center, and living in a conservative community exposed those differences.
She talks about living a double life - being the Homecoming Queen, a varsity cheerleader, and a bright student, while living in fear in the years of SB1070, her family nearly ending up homeless and how graduation felt like the end of her escape from those harsh realities.
She talks about her experiences in becoming involved and empowered in immigration activist with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, and how her involvement led to longtime close friends separating themselves from her, but finding community in “belonging to her people”.
Her decision to be a part of the Dream 7 jail strike, and in depth describes the “traumatizing” experience, which involved cold temperatures, police brutality, inhumane conditions, and the faith they placed in everyone fighting for a Clean Dream Act, the psychological effects of the experience, and the inspiration that followed.
Her experience working with the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign, a “life changing experience, working as a field organizer in Nevada, Arizona, Rhode Island, California, and later on becoming part of the Latino Outreach team. She talks about the skills and networks she gained, and the opportunity to be a page at the DNC as an undocumented woman.
We talk about the outcome of election night, her reaction, and how it led to her viral moment, taking a picture with her tax returns and tagging the president in it, because she wanted the real story to be told, which led to 1000’s of shares, a lot of hate mail, threats, but overall, the support she received, the national conversation it sparked, and how she became even more “unafraid”.
We end talking about the “unusual” political moment, her message of unity coming out of the 2016 elections, how she’s seeing the 2020 elections take shape, and the importance of mobilizing to win back the White House.
“Do the right thing and don’t be afraid to speak up”, — words of encouragement from Belen talking about her moments of personal growth, and how personal stories can move us forward, and her hopes that she can inspire others to have an impact.