This is an interview with Yajaira Saavedra, a co-owner of La Morada Mutual Aid Kitchen in the South Bronx.
My family arrived in the United States in the early 90s, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was roaming the streets of New York City. My mother worked as a seamstress for Calvin Klein and other luxurious brands in the Garment District factories on 34th Street, while my father worked pumping gas at a New Jersey gas station.
On the weekends, I would help my mom place buttons inside small envelopes so we could get an extra $20. My dad biked to work every day including during the harsh winter months to cut expenses.
Our biggest fear was getting separated by deportation
ICE raids in my parents’ workplace happened frequently. We always feared getting detained, being stopped by police, or somehow getting into trouble. Our biggest fear was getting separated by deportation.
At the time, under the Clinton administration, cuts to social programs like food stamps made it hard for my family and community to make ends meet. I remember my parents doing things like “freeganism,” commonly known as garbage diving, to ensure food was on the table. Firsthand, I saw ways in which capitalism under Democrats had let thousands of people fall through the cracks — and these issues are only getting worse by the day. Recently SNAP benefits are being cut across the country.
When I graduated high school, my family became involved in the movement to support the DREAM ACT. After the DREAM ACT failed to break a filibuster in the Senate, DREAMers brought the fight to every state, and the New York State Dream Act was passed in 2019. Under President Obama’s second term, I was able to receive status under DACA.
Click here to read the complete original interview by Isaiah Reynolds on INSIDER