Karen has lived in the U.S. for several years as an undocumented immigrant who identifies as queer, which refers to an identity other than straight and cisgender (or non-transgender). When she applied and was approved to be a recipient of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), she thought her life was just beginning in the United States. Later, however, she came out to her family as a lesbian and felt her life take several steps backward. The struggle to find acceptance from her family, coupled with the Trump administration attempting to repeal DACA, has led Karen to speak out on behalf of the thousands of people just like her who relied on DACA to keep them on the path towards citizenship and success.
Her time working at the Tacoma Rainbow Center, a local LGBTQ support organization has helped her give back to other undocumented LGBTQ people living in the Tacoma area. “Being a Latina lesbian placed a mark that did not take into consideration my personal success,” Karen said. “Without realizing it, I was being pushed back in the shadows by my family. I fear that my efforts to advocate on behalf of my community have left me vulnerable to deportation. It also places me in a country that is dangerous for LGBT folk.”