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“Hey, Are You Juan Escalante?”

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Last night I found myself leaving the grocery store, when an individual called my name as I walked down the parking lot.

“Hey, are you Juan Escalante?”

Startled, I quickly replied “Yes?” and proceeded to engage in conversation. It turned out that this individual was an undocumented student, a recent college graduate who is currently considering attending graduate school.

“I get all of your emails. You are doing some great work!” he proceeded.

We exchanged a few comments about growing up in Florida, attending school, graduating, and what the prospects of graduate school would look like. “I want to go to law school,” he mentioned “but, perhaps I could squeeze in a master’s degree first.”

Truth be told, graduate school is still out of reach for many undocumented students. However, I provided this individual with some words of advice, and encouraged him to keep going to keep working hard.

We said our goodbyes, exchanged information, and that was that.

I left this brief encounter wondering about the impact online campaigns have on individuals. When composing an email, or any other form of online communication, I often just send it out into the Internet — always expecting digital contact back, never face to face.

Over the past couple of months I have been able to help coordinate Dignity Days, an online forum for community leaders and activist to discuss local victories, or campaigns, that are currently taking place within their communities.

So far, we have discussed a variety of subjects — driver’s licenses, in-state tuition, higher education, municipal IDs. And what really gets me about this work, is the amount of passion that all of the individuals who I have spoken with have about the communities, about their families, about this country.

Yes, many of us continue to be undocumented, even as DACA/DACA+/DAPA remain a sensible subject for candidates seeking to become the next President fo the United States. Many of us, are also allies, individuals determined to continue the fight for immigration reform. Yet, we all are fighting for progress, so that families like your and mine can live a life of dignity — a life free o from the fear of being deported.

Encounters like the one that took place last night, remind me of why the work I do is not only important — but even more significant when one is part of the community. let’s keep working, together, so that immigrants across this country have a clear shot at the American Dream.