Take the story beyond tragedy
Meet Lucia, whose story is humanizing the demand for Deferred Enforced Departure for Colombia
As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re honored to introduce you to Lucia — a Colombian woman who faced the impossible decision between pursuing safety and remaining in her homeland. Now, she emerges as an immigration reform leader.
Her story is visualized through a recorded interview and illustrations by our communications fellow Miguel Rueda — whose own story explains why this project is so close to his heart.
Community Change Action senior immigration organizer Isaias Guerrero first met Lucia during a Lobby Day where a group of other recently-arrived Colombian migrants were meeting with legislators at the Capitol in D.C. to humanize the demand for Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Colombia, a temporary relief for those seeking refuge.
“This is where I saw Lucia shine,” remembers Guerrero. “She shared her painful and powerful story and was really able to connect with legislators.”
A staffer who was listening to Lucia’s journey insisted that U.S. Representative Jim McGovern meet the delegation and he asked to take a picture with the group — a memorable moment for Lucia who recounts in the story that people are not even allowed to approach politicians in Colombia.
Just this week, Reps. Pramila Jayapal and McGovern led 50 members of Congress in calling for a DED designation for Colombians.
“It was important to highlight the pain behind Lucia’s story, but not leave it there,” describes Guerrero. “One of the most important organizing principles is that those closest to the pain should lead. And when they do, the most radical, groundbreaking ideas come. That is what I saw on that lobby day and with Lucia.”
When we were initially brainstorming this collaboration for ChangeWire with Guerrero and Rueda, we did so with sensitivity and intentionality. Rueda implemented a graphic novel style to the illustrations, not to make Lucia a superhero, but to bring the landscape of her life to eyes in a memorable way.
“Miguel understands so well how to illustrate people’s lives with respect and dignity,” says Guerrero. “And since this issue is close to his heart, he truly poured all his talent and energy into a beautiful masterpiece.”
We worked as a team to make sure Lucia was represented beyond the tragedy she moves through. She’s a nurse, a fighter, and has a longing for the home she was forced to leave behind to save her own life.
“I really hope President Biden listens to Lucia and hundreds of thousands of Colombians like her, including my father, who are awaiting the opportunity to work, live out of the shadows and go back to their countries,” says Guerrero. “Deferred Enforced Departure — while it is not enough — is truly an opportunity for Colombians who have fled war for decades, to feel that peace that we all have been waiting for.”
Guerrero describes silence in the face of injustice as a form of violence against those who seek peace. And art has always been a powerful medium for amplifying immigrant experiences, using music to narrate their arduous journeys.
Guerrero, a musician himself, is producing a new series for ChangeWire called Poder del Pueblo (Power of the People), where he’ll explore the roots of bands and genres to uncover how music has fueled movement spaces. Check out his first piece in the series here.
Check out these other stories that delve into the work of immigrant leaders:
"Gaita for Love and Freedom” — Being undocumented, Isaias Guerrero wasn’t able to revisit his home country of Colombia for 16 years. It was through music that he traveled home and all across the world. While you’re here, check out the Poder del Pueblo music video, a love letter to D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood.
“How Organizing Won in Minnesota” — Community Change partners, UnidosMN and ISAIAH, spent decades collaborating with the community and policymakers to win legislation that impacts nearly every Minnesotan. Immigrant communities were central to what some are calling the ‘Minnesota miracle.’
“Tacos and Voting” — A replay of the organizing it took to win a constitutional amendment guaranteeing child care for New Mexicans. This moment was a result of 12 years of intense and challenging organizing with grassroots group Organizing in the Land of Enchantment( OLÉ ).
Eileen Sepulveda writes about how the joy of the fall season is dampened by those emails that it’s time to start repaying her student loans again after a few years of pandemic relief.
The Inflation Reduction Act is trying to make life-saving prescription medications more affordable. But Big Pharma is suing, claiming that patients aren’t getting enough of a say. Well, here’s one patient’s take: “I call bull on their concerns.”
Threats of a government shutdown are postponed for now. But when the heat picks back up in November, remember these stories of ordinary Americans who are speaking out on what the House GOP’s mess will mean for them.
On the horizon
Check back before the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month for a survivor’s take on how guaranteed income programs can help people — especially women with children — get out of abusive situations.
The Medicaid unwinding has begun as millions face getting kicked off their care with pandemic-era continuous enrollment requirements ending. Emily Withnall talks about how it happened to her daughter in New Mexico and walks us through the headache of Medicaid’s “byzantine” application process.
See a story here you want to dig in further on? Inspired by a courageous perspective you’ve heard on ChangeWire and want to connect with one of our storytellers? Want to join us in amplifying the voices of ordinary people creating positive change? We’d love to hear from you.