How University Student Created Nationally Recognized Social Media Campaign, Gave Voice to Immigrants



Caroline Foley

“When Valeria Alvarado learned that President Donald Trump had called for weekly a list of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, she took action. 

Where do you call home?

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, but home is Houston, Texas 

What is your major?


What was your initial reaction to President Donald Trump’s call for a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by illegal immigrants?

I was in my moms bedroom as we both watched the news break about it. I saw how much disbelief she was in. I was, too. He went on a whole speech about how bad undocumented immigrants are for this country. 

We couldn’t believe it. We felt so voiceless. 

What harm do you believe will arise from President Trump’s weekly list?

As of 2014, there were 11.1 million recorded undocumented immigrants in the U.S. A list containing only the crimes of this community will unfairly define the mass by the actions of a few. While there is a small percentage of undocumented immigrants that cause harm in our society (just like how every other community has their small percentage), the others should not be punished for the actions they had no responsibility in. 

What can we learn from history about similar negative publications about minority identities? 

The “list” idea isn’t new. The Nazis used to make a list of crimes committed by the Jews. The RTLMC (the radio station in Rwanda that played an influential role in the genocide) used to talk about all the problems the Tutsis were bringing to society. I use these metaphors carefully- I do not think that the US is down the path of genocide. However, I do think there is a community being discriminated against. I do think we are repeating history’s same mistakes. 

Why did you create “We, too, are America?”

Initially, WTAA was supposed to be an immediate response to Trump’s list, so I was going to make a list of accomplishments by the undocumented community. However, the idea kept growing as the page’s messages blew up. People everywhere were telling me how excited they were for a platform like this exist. Many of these people weren’t undocumented, but they also felt some of the same scrutiny that the undocumented community is going through. Thats when I decided to open it up to the immigrant, refugee, and undocumented community. 

Now the list has been straying away from its original intent. When I had the idea for We, Too, Are America, I originally had an attack to Donald Trump’s policies, but now I see WTAA as an opportunity for the undocumented, immigrant, and refugee community to express themselves, to create their own narratives, and to broadcast the diversity in our community. WTAA wants our page to be a platform for people who feel like they don’t belong in the single-story narrative that’s been brought down in our community. And trust me, it’s not just Trump doing it. The conservatives define us as criminals- the liberals define us as victims. They’re both wrong. Immigrants, refugees, and undocumented people have dreams, mistakes, rock bottom moments, celebrations, doubts, and happiness. So now WTAA has turned into an outlet for people within these communities to talk about their accomplishments and they struggles they had to get there. We invite everyone in the community- whether they are from 50 miles down the US border or from 3,000 miles away, whether they are republican or democrat, whether they are students or retired- to publish with us. Everyone’s stories, (even the people’s whose opinions we disagree with) matters in crafting the complex, multicultural entity that is the United States of America. 

Some characterize President Trump’s executive order as an important document that will better inform the public about those entering our country. Is it incorrect to characterize “We, too, are America” as a censored new source that only offers positive news about immigrants?

I see it more as an alternative image that shows a more diverse side of the community. Again, it’s a community of 11.1 million people. We are more than just the crimes of the few. 

So far, do you have any favorite success/achievement stories about an immigrant?

I have a favorite interviewing story. If you check out the post for February 6th- that man and I cried together in the spot where his picture is taken. 

When I was interviewing him, he told me his story about working in America. We ended the interview briefly and I was about to walk away while thanking him one last time. He stopped me and said “there’s something else I have to tell you-” He paused for a few seconds and then told me he was HIV-positive. 

I admire his bravery in opening up about that part of himself. It was incredible to know that he trusted me in letting me publish that part of him on WTAA. It was a really beautiful moment, I think I’ll remember it forever. 

Do you think the current immigration system needs alterations? Why or why not?

Some might depict the immigration and refugee process in America as too weak —making it easy for terrorists to enter the US. As an immigrant from Monterrey, Mexico, how would you describe the citizenship process in America?

It’s luck. I’ll say this time and time again: becoming a citizen in this country is hard work and luck. You can be overqualified for citizenship, you can SERVE IN THE U.S. MILITARY, you can invest thousands of dollars, you can pay taxes, you can work every day towards citizenship, and after all this, you may still have to wait another year for a chance. 

It’s unfair; it’s flawed. I don’t want another U.S. serviceman deported. I don’t want another family separated. It’s time we relook our immigration system to keep the bad guys out and let the good guys in without punishing innocent people. 

What are you short term and long term goals for “We, too, are America?”

Short term, I hope WTAA can reach out to more states and more cities. I want our page to feature people from all over the country. 

Long term, I hope this page really becomes a reliable outlet where people can learn. I hope it becomes a reflection of the diversity of this nation- not just ethnic and racial diversity, but diversity in story.