Angy Rivera came to the United States when she was three years old. Her mother had grown up in poverty in Colombia, and she worried that would be Angy’s fate as well. So she brought her daughter to America as an undocumented immigrant.
Angy's 21 now and writes the first and only undocumented immigrant advice column "Ask Angy" for the New York State Youth Leadership Council. She answers questions about driving, applying to college, finding work, and traveling without papers or ID. She also responds to questions about “coming out” as undocumented, and about love, race, and gender.
"It's open to anything," Rivera says. "Most of the questions that I've gotten have been about coming out. I've gotten questions on how to apply to college, how to drive [without] a license, going to school, [and] telling your partner, your friends, or your counselor about your status. It all comes down to coming out, most of the time."
While she was initially afraid that nobody would come asking, Rivera says that the impact of the website has been extremely positive for undocumented immigrants as a whole. Many of her readers ask about what to do once they graduate from high school, a significant crossroads for any student, but with the added pressure of not being able to legally apply for jobs or colleges.
"It's great to see how it has grown and how it has been able to connect so many people and show so much support," Rivera says. "I'm really excited that it has built that sense of community." One of the most difficult parts of coming out as undocumented is the reaction of significant others.
One of the most challenging questions she has faced came from an undocumented woman who wanted to start a family in the United States. Rivera preached caution above all else. "I don't really feel comfortable telling someone what to do, but I try to highlight the options that are out there [so that] this person can make the decision that they feel is best for them, for their family, [or] for their community."
"I know that doing this is going to bring about a lot of tough questions, so I try to do research, [and I try] to ask other people who may know so I don't have to just do this on my own, or give advice that might not be right."