"You deported me."
In the last of FWD.us's six-part "11 Million Stories" video series, Michelle Yoon describes what her life in the United States would be like if mass deportation were to be enacted. She goes into hiding. She lives in a police state under the constant fear of being separated from her family.
While the story she tells in the video is hypothetical, Yoon, a recent UCLA graduate who was born in Argentina to Korean parents, is an undocumented immigrant who is very much affected by immigration reform and the threat of mass deportation. Yoon now works at the California Immigrant Policy Center as its administrative and development coordinator, and told NBC News that she didn't become involved with immigration reform until college, where she joined a campus support group for undocumented students.
When Yoon heard about the chance to work with FWD.us on the video series illustrating life as an undocumented immigrant, she jumped at the opportunity to represent her community. "We weren't really visible in the immigrant community, but there are a lot of undocumented AAPI immigrants," she said. "This issue about immigration and how difficult it is for you to go through this whole process. It affects Asian people as well. I wanted to get involved because for the longest time, not just me but people that I knew didn't feel comfortable coming out with their story."
FWD.us was founded in 2013 by Silicon Valley leaders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt. Its website states that "FWD.us' mission is to mobilize the tech community to support policies that keep the American Dream achievable in the 21st century."
Michael Feldman, spokesperson for FWD.us, told NBC News in an email that "The goal of our 11 Million Stories series is to depict the reality of what mass deportation would do to America: destroy our economy, upend our communities, and rip apart millions of American families."
The video series is part of the group's Impact Immigration 2016 campaign, a yearlong campaign fighting against anti-immigrant rhetoric and bringing the threat of mass deportation to the attention of American voters. The campaign hopes to inspire voters to commit to sign on to become "immigration voters," for whom immigration is a top voting issue.
The campaign, which launched in December, will continue through the fall of 2016. Feldman said that he hopes the campaign helps "to create a positive and constructive dialogue on immigration reform throughout the election, while also pushing back against mass deportation, and ensuring that immigration reform is a priority for the next president in 2017."
Meanwhile, Yoon already sees a positive change within the undocumented immigrant community. "I feel like there was a bigger stigma among Asians, and I think it's because Asians are portrayed in the media like we're not affected by the issues, but we are affected," she said. "People feel like if they don't fit the image they can't say anything. I didn't come out publicly until early college years [with my undocumented status]. It is changing, I feel like I see more AAPI speaking out publicly about it. It feels good to see."
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- At Immigration Conference, Asian Americans Discuss Language Access, DACA Enrollment
- Asian-American Groups Urge SCOTUS to End Injunction Against Obama's Immigration Actions
- 'Eye of the Storm': Undocumented Dreamers Head to Battleground States