Sonia Espinosa, an undocumented Harvard student, made a video and wrote a letter to the university’s president asking her to publicly advocate for students and help them navigate the school's system.
The video, From an Undocumented Student: Dear Harvard, casts the school and its undocumented pupils as being in a rocky romantic relationship.
"Harvard, everyone wants to be vulnerable, everyone wants to be loved,'" Espinosa says in the video. "I love you, too. But, you also make it a little difficult sometimes for me to be vulnerable with you."
The United States has a similar relationship with its 11 million undocumented immigrants, Espinosa told BuzzFeed News. The country is unwilling to give them legal status but offers them a tax identification number to pay taxes.
The 22-year-old said Harvard has been amazing in accepting students and helping them afford tuition, but there's more to be done. She hopes the video will move Harvard President Drew Faust to help students navigate the campus and immigration system.
"What I really want to do with this is encourage Drew Faust to come out and support us," Espinosa said. "If Harvard is so willing to accept us as students it should also be willing to publicly support us as undocumented people."
Harvard declined to comment on the video.
Last year Faust told the Washington Post that Harvard offered undocumented students full access to financial aid.
"I am an advocate for those students and the potential they have," Faust told the Washington Post, "and what they have given us at Harvard, and the kinds of contributions they make to the community and what they will certainly give this nation."
This isn't the first time Espinosa used music to discuss undocumented issues. Last year she and Dario Guerrero, another undocumented Harvard student, wrote a song for his mother.
Guerrero was in the national spotlight when he was stuck in Mexico after traveling to his native country to help his dying mother find alternative cancer treatments. He was able to return to the United States months later with a humanitarian visa after his mother died.
Espinosa, a junior studying social anthropology, grew up in the suburbs of Greendale, Milwaukee. She was able to attend Harvard under a scholarship that covered most of her costs, but required her to work part-time, a difficult task for an undocumented student.
With the help of a professor she was able to secure a job as a researcher for a graduate student as a freshman. She later qualified for Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allowed her to legally work and apply for a driver's license. She said her father calls her everyday asking if she has received it yet but she's reminded that it is only a temporary solution.
She hopes work like hers help change the way undocumented people are perceived in the country.
"We're always placed against the economy, money and labor, we're never humanized," Espinosa said. "I want undocumented people to know they are beautiful creators and have the ability to define themselves."
Adolfo Flores is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Adolfo Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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