October 2018 Student Spotlight
October Student Spotlight with Ricardo Aca, BSPA ‘19
Ricardo’s fascinating story includes his family’s decision to leave Mexico for the American Dream, his viral video speaking out against Trump’s remarks about the Mexican community, being a DREAMer, and his role at “largest grassroots non-profit organization in New York”, Make the Road New York.
What was it like going from working in a Trump hotel to receiving an award at the 2016 CUNY DREAMers Conference for your role in the community (namely the viral video you produced, in which you speak out against Trumps negative remarks about the Mexican community)?
Making that video where I came out as undocumented while working at a Trump hotel changed my life because it gave me a voice at a time when no one was calling out Trump for his remarks on the Mexican community when he called is rapists, drug dealers and criminals. Being an undocumented immigrant we are often afraid to speak up or have a role in politics because it could potentially put the lives of our families at risk but when I did that video I felt I had to say something if no one else was, especially if a presidential candidate is running on an anti-Mexican and xenophobic rhetoric. Working on a Trump Hotel I know for a fact that it is because of immigrants like me and my parents that cities like New York run, we are an integral part of the United States and we deserve to be treated with the same amount of respect as anyone else who is a US citizen.
Why did you cross the border to come to America when you were 14? How did you gain your footing in New York City?
I came to the United States because my mother wanted us to have an education, which we couldn’t have in Mexico because we couldn’t afford it and because we didn’t have the support of the government there. In Mexico, if you’re poor, you will likely always be poor. But in the United States if you work hard, it often pays off. And I think that’s been the case for my family and 11 million of undocumented immigrants who live here right now. We work hard because we want a shot at the American Dream. I can honestly say I am currently living my mother’s dream in me obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree and I’m living my dream in being able to pursue a career in public affairs and being able to be openly gay in a city like New York.
What has an education at the Marxe School and in the BSPA program done for you as a DREAMer?
As a Dreamer, being a student in the Public Affairs has shaped me to be a better political advocate for the issues that affect me, like immigration and LGBTQ rights. I have developed a political muscle in understanding how the United States Government works and its history. I have met professors who’ve held positions in government and it’s something that I see for myself in the future. If one day I get to become an American citizen I would like to run for City Council in the 34th District, which covers Bushwick, Brooklyn where I grew up.
Tell us about Make the Road New York and what you do there.
Make the Road NY is the largest grassroots non-profit organization in New York, they have been around for over a decade and they fight for the rights of the immigrant community with offices in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island and most recently Westchester. I’m a digital organizer there, I manage all social media platforms, update their website and develop digital campaigns that encourage fellow New Yorkers to take action in the fight for dignity and justice for all immigrant and people of color.