Photo: Justin McCallum

Maria R.


26, Social Movements Strategist at an INGO
New York, NY

Both of my parents are Iranian. A couple years after they got married in Iran, they left their homeland and moved to France, which is where I was born. We then went to California to be closer to my father's family when I was five years old. I became a U.S. citizen in 2012, after 17 years of living in the U.S. Even if you migrate when you are young, the experience of being an outsider working their way in is so deeply impactful. It made me more empathic, more passionate, more political. I may be and become a lot of things, but at the core of it: I am always an immigrant kid. I can also tell you that my parents and people like them are what make and keep America great. They have worked so hard to create something good for our family here. And they are the sole reason why I fight for a better nation every day. They have always believed in America and I truly want it to live up to their expectations.

Why did your family come to the United States? To reunite with family.

What would the U.S. be missing out on if you or your people were banned? A family that speaks three languages when gathered around the dinner table. A family that will always share a cup of coffee and a little bit of Persian poetry with you. A family that is quirky, passionate, and so wonderful.