Fighting for the American Dream: An Immigration Story

She saw her nieces and nephews separated from their parents for 30 years

By: Jumoke Balogun

By: Jumoke Balogun

Rosa Lopez wants better for her family. She wants them to travel freely, go to college, get married, buy a home and live the American Dream she is now enjoying.

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Lopez became an American citizen in 2008, and after decades of hard work she recently bought her first home. A single mother who works seven days a week as a janitor cleaning office buildings, she has worked tirelessly to ensure greater opportunities for her two children who are now in college.

As she reaps the reward of her hard work, she knows that 12 million undocumented immigrants are denied the same reward.

"I see my nieces and nephews who have been separated from their parents for 30 years," Lopez said. "Despite their hard work, they are still not able to achieve a better life because our immigration system is broken."

Although hers is an immigration story that exemplifies the best our country has to offer, she has witnessed the heartache of friends and families who live in the shadow. She worries about her friend Maria, an undocumented worker who has a handicapped daughter. She wonders, if Maria gets deported, who would take care of the little girl? She aches for her cousins who could not attend the funeral of their parents in Mexico because they knew they couldn't come back to the only home they've known for 25 years.

Tonight, Rosa will share these stories with elected official and sit in the House gallery to hear President Obama's State of the Union address representing how millions of hardworking immigrants contribute to our economy and enrich the fabric of our society.

She fights for commonsense immigration reform because she believes it is a critical step toward helping other immigrants, including some her own family members, to secure a better life for themselves.

She has vowed to do everything she can--contacting lawmakers, registering voters and taking to the streets--to help make immigration reform a reality.

For Lopez, being able to advocate for a just society is part of what makes America great. An active leader with SEIU United Service Workers West, Lopez also helps her co-workers and janitors throughout California to stand up for better jobs. Advocacy is the least she can do for a country that has given her so much.

"I love the United States and all the opportunities it holds," said Lopez. "I am proud to be living my dream of owning a home and putting both of my kids in college but it breaks my heart to see so many immigrant families continuing to wilt in the shadows when they could be blossoming like I did."

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