‘I am an American Immigrant’ awardees announced
After a six-month editorial campaign, sharing with the Philadelphia region the power of immigrants, the “I am an American Immigrant” awardees have been selected.
Beginning in February, AL DÍA News launched an editorial campaign that portrayed the essence, talent, strength and, most importantly, the commitment that the 12 “I am an American Immigrant” finalists have shown in serving their communities. The Selection Committee met on May 7 and decided on four awardees, choosing them to represent the importance and strength of the entire Philadelphia immigrant population.
Carmen Guerrero is an immigrant from Mexico who, now living in Philadelphia, opens the doors of her house to help undocumented immigrants seeking assistance. There, they receive legal (pro bono) counsel and English classes. They also have a place where they are able to openly speak about their fears and try to find the best solutions for their situations. During the editorial campaign for the “I am an American Immigrant” project, Guerrero was interviewed by our staff writer Edwin López, and during the conversation, she described immigrants as human beings, full of dignity and humanity, that are able to smile even when going through difficult moments.
Nelly Jimenez- Arevalo is Venezuelan. She is a lawyer by formation but has dedicated her career to social services. She has spent time working with Congreso de Latinos Unidos and Maternal and Child Care Consortium. Today, she is the Executive Director & CEO of ACLAMO, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs, social services and health access to Latino and other low-income residents. During her interview with López, she described the difficulty immigrants have in feeling at home here in the U.S. — and even in their countries of origin.
Emma Restrepo is a journalist freelancer who immigrated from Colombia to the U.S. Restrepo is the producer and host of the radio show Para Ti Mujer that is aired on Sunday mornings by the radio station El Zol 1340 AM. She graduated college with a degree in Journalism and went on the earn her Master's in Political Science. Restrepo has focused her career on social impact. With experience in the public and private sectors, her resume includes organizations such as Unicef and the United Nations. She has worked for media outlets throughout the U.S., as well as Ecuador and Colombia. During her interview with López, Restrepo reminded us that we shouldn't even be talking about immigrants because in the U.S., we are all immigrants in some way, and continuously building this country.
Liliana Velásquez made a drastic decision when she was 14 years old. She fled her home in Guatemala, alone, and started her migration to the U.S. Velasquez is the author of the book Dreams and Nightmares, edited and translated by Mark Lyons. In her book, she describes the difficult life she lived in Guatemala that led her to flee in pursuit of a better life. Velasquez describes being forced to abandon school to take care of her younger siblings and do housework. She suffered from domestic violence and, at 14, was advised by her mom to get married and leave. In her 2,000-mile journey to reach U.S. soil, she suffered sexual violence and life-threatening situations while crossing through the Sonoran Desert. Today, Liliana is studying to become a nurse. During her interview for this project, she highlighted the perseverance immigrants maintain and their ability to overcome difficulties while holding their heads high.
These four honorees will be awarded during our I am an American Immigrant ceremony on June 14 at the National Museum of American Jewish History located at 101 S Independence Mall E., Philadelphia, PA 19106