Angee is a 24-year-old, born in Guatemala and considers herself to have very strong ties to the immigrant community. She graduated from Adrian College in Michigan and was very eager to return to Chicago and start assisting the community she grew up in. She started at SWOP as a volunteer and then worked her way up to becoming a community navigator, working in a few roles that would lead to her becoming a full-time organizer.
Angee works with two programs; The Chicago Legal Protection Fund (LPF) and Access to Justice (A2J). The Chicago Legal Protection Fund is a city-wide initiative that supports organizations to expand access to legal services to protect immigrants in Chicago. Through LPF, she is able to create legal referrals for individuals to have appointments with attorneys at the National Immigrant Justice Center or IJC for short. Access to Justice is a state-wide program that works with organizations like SWOP to reach immigrants through Know Your Rights presentations and educating the community on other immigration issues as well as having the ability to provide free legal consultations.
SWOP also has a relationship with the City Clerk of Chicago, Ana Valencia, through which SWOP hosts a CitiKey event once a month. CityKey is used as a form of identification. Angee helps to lead this event by conducting the set-up, follow-up calls, and overall organization of the event. She also spends her time accompanying community members through their immigration process.
When asked about why she entered this line of work, she stated that she went to a predominantly white institution and saw there were a lot of resources and opportunities but upon returning to Chicago, she noticed those same resources weren’t offered to people in the community. She also noticed a lack of black and brown individuals at the school she went to and wanted to make sure that people of color were actually being represented appropriately in the spaces she entered. She feels this work is necessary because there are people who don't realize what rights they have and there are people going around with a significant disadvantage when it comes to the resources available to them. People are afraid and stuck in dire situations regarding their citizenship and she wants to be able to provide a safe space for them to be heard by other members of their community and their elected officials.
Angee urges that anyone who has an interest in being a part of the fight get involved with local organizations and churches in the community to show their support for the community as a whole. Volunteering as much as you can and educating others on their rights are some of the first steps that can be taken toward helping immigrant families.