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Center for Immigration Legal & Support Services Featured on KPIX News 5

Andrea Orea, Operations Manager for the Center of Immigration Legal & Support Services San Mateo at Catholic Charities San Francisco, sat down with Len Ramirez of KPIX News 5 to recount her story of crossing the U.S. border as a five-year-old without her parents and the lens through which she sees our broken immigration system.

Andrea sees America’s confusing and sometimes chaotic immigration system from a front-row seat as she and her team help clients navigate the immigration system. Her empathy for new immigrants comes from her own story of crossing the border as a five-year-old without her parents. She was born in Puebla, Mexico, not knowing her father, who was already in the U.S. because his father was a guest worker Bracero program in the 1960s. To reunite the family, her mother took her to Tijuana and passed her off to a smuggler who posed as a nanny for the trip.

Andrea remembers the traumatic feelings of waving goodbye to her mom from a stranger’s car. She was told to pretend to be asleep when crossing the border to avoid raising suspicion. She made it across, met up with her father, and later reunited with her mother, who crossed the desert on foot. Andrea excelled in school, was a model student at Hayward High School, and was accepted at U.C. Berkeley, where she majored in political science and legal studies. She qualified for DACA, got her degree, and recently got a green card which finally allowed her to emerge from the shadows and tell her story.

Andrea’s three brothers are U.S.-born citizens, all college graduates or students, but their parents still don’t have legal status. So, like the people Andrea and her team serve daily, the parents who took a risk sending a child across the border to find a better life face an uncertain future.

Watch the three-minute feature from KPIX Channel 5 news below and learn how you can help immigrant families stay together here. Every dollar makes a difference in the lives of families who are struggling. Your support today can mean freedom and reunification for a family tomorrow.