Angy Paola Rivera Named Council’s 2016 Immigrant Youth Achievement Award Recipient

March 16, 2016

Washington D.C. - Today, the American Immigration Council is pleased to announce that Angy Paola Rivera is the winner of the 2016 Immigrant Youth Achievement Award. Angy is a powerful young advocate who has brought to light the difficulties of carrying two painful, personal secrets through life: being undocumented and surviving sexual abuse. 

Angy has been an activist in the undocumented youth movement in New York City since 2009. She also writes a column called “Ask Angy” hosted by the New York State Youth Leadership Council. She provides advice to the undocumented community on a range of topics. In addition, she uses her column and AskAngy YouTube channel to speak out about sexual abuse. 

Angy came out about her undocumented status publicly in 2010. Two years later, in an article she wrote for The Progressive, she recollected the night she told her mother she was going public about her status:

“I still have her tears from the night I told her I would be coming out—tears laced with fear, etched on my heart. My mom blankly stared at me, and then she accused me of wanting to put myself and our family at risk. I was going against all the warnings she had given me. The look in her eyes convinced me that this was something I needed to do, not just for myself but also for her.

“I couldn’t stand to see how government officials had power over my mother’s freedom and over mine, as well. I couldn’t stand to see how each day we were living in fear pretending to be invisible. We were settling for anything that was handed to us instead of demanding to be treated as equals and to have our voices heard.

"In her eyes, I saw that she believed the entire stigma attached to our undocumented status, and it angered me. This anger pushed me further into action as I laid my shirt out and got the rest of my clothes ready for the big day.”

Angy’s advocacy has brought to light the difficulties of surviving sexual abuse while also being undocumented. She writes:

“Many speculated I made up the abuse to qualify for a U Non-immigrant Visa and adjust my status… I wouldn’t want anyone to be sexually abused. I could never articulate how life-ruining it is. I would also never hope for someone to be undocumented. Similarly, it’s a frustrating and many times unbearable experience.”

Angy’s remarkable journey emigrating from Colombia at 4-years-old to becoming an undocumented activist and sharing her sexual abuse story is the subject of a 2015 PBS documentary, “Don’t Tell Anyone (No Les Digas a Nadie)".

For her courage and commitment which empowers others to unveil secrets, seek support and build community, the American Immigration Council is proud to honor Angy Paola Rivera as our 2016 Immigrant Youth Achievement Award winner.

Angy will be honored next month at the American Immigration Council’s 2016 D.C. Immigrant Achievement Awards


For more information, contact Wendy Feliz at [email protected] or 202-507-7524

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Elyssa Pachico
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