Recently, an event attended by both Hillary and Chelsea Clinton offered an opportunity for a young woman to divulge a difficult truth to the world. Nova Bajamonti was one of 60 girls invited to attend a speech given by Hillary Clinton at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York in mid-April. Bajamonti has always respected and looked up to Clinton and so she decided that should would take the opportunity, if it presented itself, to make an admission.
Well, that opportunity did present itself when Bajamonti was called on to ask a question. The moderator, actress America Ferrera, singled out Bajamonti from the group. She became nervous, but was determined to say what she needed to say. “For the first time publicly, I want to say that I am an undocumented immigrant.” She began to tear up as people in the audience gave her a round of applause.
Bajamonti went on to say that she was born in Croatia and immigrated to the states when she was only 5 years old. She has lived in the U.S. for more than a decade as an undocumented immigrant. She continued with her statement and highlighted some important issues. First, she explained that she does not have the proper documentation to work, vote, get an apartment or take out loans to go to college. Without getting these loans, Bajamonti cannot attend college.
Now comes the question: “What do we need to do to put this in priority when it comes to Congress, because this is an extreme glass ceiling for me that I can't even control?” She later told CNN that she felt quite relieved after her admission. She felt even better after Hillary Clinton responded. Clinton began her comment with how brave it was for Bajamonti to speak her truth. “[I]t's important to put ourselves in other people's shoes,” Clinton said.
Clinton then moved on to speak to the advantages of immigration reform. She stated that it is good for immigrants and also “good for us.” Clinton is a former secretary of state and also a prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, if she would decide to run.
She continued by saying that the U.S. is missing a great opportunity by not having passed immigration reform. Undocumented immigrants already make contributions to society and would inevitably contribute even more if they were able to live freely and without fear. Clinton's statements echoed earlier comments she made at an event in San Francisco. At that appearance, Clinton said that the U.S. had to “work our way towards the kind of future I envision.”
For Bajamonti, her immigration status is her “own personal glass ceiling,” something that prevents her from taking advantage of every potential opportunity that would otherwise be available to her. She is stifled and held down by decisions that others made for her when they brought her to the United States without the proper documentation.
The thing is, this is something Congress, and the rest of us, can fix. We can make the lives of all of these people better. So many immigrants pay taxes, work in harsh conditions, and live in the shadows just to have a better life in this country. It's about time that we work together to come up with some kind of resolution.