Welcome.us, the nonprofit organization that began the nationwide effort to honor U.S. immigrants throughout the month of June as part of “Immigrant Heritage month,” joined the California Endowment to present a live performance called “I Am An Immigrant: A Celebration of Our Stories” on Saturday, June 18.
The performance, written and directed by Paola Mendoza, celebrates the lives of immigrants and the immigrant heritage of the United States. The performance also noted the millions of undocumented currently fighting for the American Dream.
“Scandal’s” Guillermo Diaz, actress Cristela Alonzo, actor Esai Morales, East Los High’s Jorge Diaz and Danielle Vega, “People’s List” host SuChin Pak, actresses Melonie Diaz and Bojana Novakovic, actor Harry Shum, Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas, and 6-year-old Sophie Cruz gave a voice to those who have often been ignored and have often been scapegoats for our nation’s ills. That is no more evident in the negative rhetoric during this year’s political campaign.
At the historic Holman United Methodist Church, more than 1,000 Angelenos enjoyed a live performance including staged readings of historical speeches from American history, music and personal stories of courage, resilience and hope delivered by undocumented individuals and their families.
The event also featured performances by Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, the world’s only LGBTQ mariachi band, and recording artists V Bozeman, Christen Lien, and Nikki Jean.
The performance was held last weekend as many awaited the monumental U.S. Supreme Court decision in United States vs. Texas on DAPA and expanded DACA, which could allow over 500,000 undocumented Angelenos to apply for temporary work permits and be shielded from deportation.
“I wanted to be part of the ‘I Am An Immigrant’ campaign because it’s so important to use your voice, be heard, and give power to voices that are rarely heard,” Alonzo shared.
“Only when we recognize people as real humans, can we have a real conversation that moves things forward to make everybody treat each other equally. That’s why I do it — because my mom was one of those people,” she continued. “When I see the faces of the people who struggle, I don’t see anyone else but my mom. So I fight for her and anyone else who has that kind of story because if I don’t, who will?”
“It is so important to teach our children and ourselves the truth about our country’s history,” said Alma V. Marquez, founder of the women’s networking group, LA Comadre. “We are stronger when we are honest about our roots. Why deny our heritage? It’s what makes us great.”
“Now more than ever, it’s important for people and immigrants of all backgrounds to understand the power of our collective voices,” said Daniel Zingale, senior vice president of Healthy California with The California Endowment.
Cruz, called the youngest immigration activist, ended the event by leading the audience in a bilingual chant exclaiming, “I am an immigrant! Soy un immigrante!”
The youngster, previously known for slipping through security and handing the Pope a letter, also met later with President Obama. Her parents, however, could not attend. Because of their undocumented status, they could not clear security.
“When this moment in our politics passes, when the forces that know America’s strength comes from being a nation that welcomes immigrants, and when we pass immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship for millions, I will remember tonight,” said Todd Schulte, President of FWD.us.
“I will remember hearing the stories of DREAMers, of a young girl fighting for her parents, of a holocaust survivor and many more — all united in the belief that our shared immigrant experience makes us stronger. Tonight made us stronger.”