Spotlight On: Sara Mora, the DREAMer Standing Up for Immigrants
Being undocumented has not stopped Costa Rican influencer and immigration activist Sara Mora from pursuing her dreams and speaking out for others like her.
For Sara Mora's mother, coming to the United States from her native Costa Rica with her husband and children was a matter of life and death. "My mom had heart problems, so one of the main reasons we came here was because medicine was not advanced or available to the extent that it is now in Costa Rica, so my mom's open heart surgeries would have had a totally different level of risk," she says.
Her mom is in good health now, but her surgeries weren't the end of her struggles in the U.S. "My mom and dad took jobs at kitchens, cleaning houses, babysitting, working at convenience stores, and truck driving — every single essential job that there is," Sara, 24, recalls. "Coming here we had no family. We were the only ones in the family who moved here."
Sara was just three years old when her family came to the U.S. Her younger sister, a DREAMer like Mora, was 12 months old; their youngest brother was born here and has citizenship. "It's been an exciting journey as a family to think of the many ways you can aspire to dream in this country while also being undocumented," she says, adding that her legal status never stopped her from following her mission in life.
"When I was really young we attended a local church and we worked a lot on seminars and youth groups. That work inspired me to be more observant of my environment, growing up in a low-income city and coming from a home that made me not feel ready or worthy of a formal education," she recalls. "That was the core spark of my activism. After high school, I started to focus on immigration."
In 2014, the digital strategist founded Population Mic to "create bridges of opportunities for high-school and college students, ideally undocumented or immigrants, wanting to find their passion for storytelling." You're never too young to start doing activism work for a cause that tugs at your heart, she says. "A lot of times we think we don't know enough or we have to wait for a certain age or level of experience, but we have a lot of access to information and we need everyone at the table. You can also make a difference at a young age. Believe in yourself! Sometimes you have to take leaps of faith even if your voice trembles."
The fear of deportation tearing her family apart did not stop her from standing up for her community. Witnessing her parents' sacrifices as essential workers motivates her to continue to fight against the negative rhetoric that exists against the undocumented. "Seeing their day-to-day hustle and bustle and seeing how hard they work to continue to pay their bills is inspiring," she says.
Mora is hopeful about helping to improve the lives of Latino immigrants in the U.S. "There is so much work to do still, even during a Biden administration, but I do see him having the potential to lead the biggest immigration reform in a while so I'm looking forward to it," she says. "We have to continue lobbying. There is a lot of work to do for border communities and immigrant communities. Migration is a global crisis and migration is a human right. People are literally dying in detention centers. We can't just sit back with our hands crossed. We have to make sure that elected officials are pushing for that change we want to see."
For more with Sara, look for the March issue of People en Español, on stands this Friday.