I am the undocumented immigrant whose story she loved. She didn't call me an illegal, or a criminal, or suggest that I be deported. On the contrary she expressed her love, and -- dare I say -- admiration for my journey.
A few months later, I heard Ivanka Trump speak on a panel at the Forbes Women's Summit in New York
. She was poised, eloquent and stunningly beautiful. She spoke of her father, Donald Trump, with admiration. She carried herself with confidence, and I tweeted many of her punchy words of advice. An hour later, I took the same stage and shared my story with the audience.
I came from Mexico as an 11-year-old child to be reunited with my parents in the United States. After my tourist visa expired at the age of 14, my life in the shadows began. I grew up inside a gray area, where everything was possible with hard work and yet in a split second everything could be taken away if my immigration status was discovered.
Even with that persistent fear in the back of my mind, I graduated high school, put myself through college and landed a job at Goldman Sachs in 2005. I hunkered down and climbed up the corporate ladder on Wall Street. I was a young woman breaking ceilings in a cutthroat, male-dominated field, all while keeping my secret of being undocumented. It wasn't an easy road to take, but I believed if I succeeded, if I could actually embody the iconic image of the American Dream, then maybe I could earn my way into America.
My story has evoked very passionate -- and mixed -- reactions. Some, including the daughter of Donald Trump, expressed appreciation for my journey. Others have called for my deportation -- despite the fact that I became an American citizen in August 2014.
Just a few months after Ivanka Trump tweeted about how she loved my story, Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president. In the now-infamous announcement, he demonized Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals. I wondered what the poised, intelligent woman I had met days earlier thought of her father's racist and ignorant remarks? Surely, she must disagree with him on his views of immigrants. Surely, she knew that his plans to build a wall and deport millions of immigrants were not only inhumane but would be disastrous for the US economy? Indeed, according to the American Action Forum
, deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants would reduce the gross domestic product by $1.6 trillion over a 20-year period, and cost taxpayers as much as $300 billion in that period in deportation costs.
Ivanka Trump recognized that at its core, my story is an American story. It's the story of millions of immigrants who have come before me, of the immigrants her father has suggested we round up. All of us, including Ivanka's own grandmother, have come to America to offer our talents in search of a better life.
My journey, which I chronicle in "My (Underground) American Dream
," is a story of struggle, dedication and earned success. It's a journey in direct conflict with everything for which Donald Trump now stands. Trump's rise to secure his party's nomination has come on the back of hatred, fear and maddening rhetoric. His proposal to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, meanwhile, is tinged with an insidious racism that has continued to spread through the campaign.
He rose to the top because not enough of us spoke out when we had the chance. His daughter had an incredible opportunity to stand up to racism and hate when her father announced his candidacy, yet she has failed to disavow the hateful rhetoric that we have heard time and again. Surely, her view of immigrants such as myself hasn't changed that drastically?
But if she will not speak out, I will. I have gained my US citizenship and have left Wall Street. Now, I have a larger sense of responsibility as a citizen, with the right to vote, and I am fully committed to making our country better. I have pledged to advocate for our communities and to represent those who do not have the option of casting a ballot to make their voices heard.
Our second chance to stand up to Donald Trump comes in November. I will proudly vote for the first time in a presidential election, and I hope that the Ivanka who tweeted her love for my story will stand with me and vote against hatred.