The nonprofit group Define American seeks to change how the public perceives immigrants by encouraging undocumented people to “come out” and share their stories.
Hernandez and Bautista came from Oaxaca in 2006 and had two daughters here. Last year 6-year-old Sophie hand-delivered a letter to Pope Francis in Washington, D.C., urging immigration reform.
Ghica emigrated from Bucharest, Romania, with her children in 2001 to avoid the social stigma single mothers face back home.
Leyva, who emigrated as a 2-year-old from Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1989, is studying to be a teacher.
Medina moved from Mexico City in 2000 at 16. “I’m part of this community,” he says. “I care as much about it as any U.S. citizen.”
Hong relocated to the United States from Seoul, South Korea, in 2001 at 11. He works to educate people about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which delays deportation for at least two years.
Moreno came from Tlaxcala, Mexico, in 2003 after experiencing harassment as a transgender woman.
Reyes left Guerrero, Mexico, at 3 and walked across the desert with his grandmother to reunite with his mother in L.A.
Mora moved here in 2000, when he was 11, to escape “extreme poverty” in his small town near Mexico City; Ceja was 9 months old when his family came from Michoacán in 1992.
Joseph, a double major in African American studies and public affairs, emigrated from Roaring Creek, Belize, in 2000 when she was 7.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Los Angeles magazine.