Astrid Silva: Meet the woman delivering the Democratic response to Trump in Spanish

Silva will deliver a speech on Tuesday night after Trump's address to Congress.

ByABC News
February 27, 2017, 4:01 PM

— -- Immigration activist Astrid Silva will be delivering the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress in Spanish on Tuesday night.

Silva marks the first time a Spanish response will be delivered rebutting a president’s first address to a joint session of Congress. She will be joined by former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who will deliver the Democratic response in English.

Her speech Tuesday night will target Trump's immigration policies. "It is more important than ever that we show the American people the real faces of immigrants and that we push back on President Trump and Republicans’ plan and vision for America," Silva said in a statement released by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday.

Here is more to know about Silva:

Coming to the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant

“When I was 4 years old, my mother and I climbed into a raft and we crossed the river to join my father in America, in search of a better life. All I had was a little doll,” Silva said in her speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Having crossed the border from Mexico to the U.S., Silva’s family decided to make Nevada their home. Her father worked as a landscaper and her mother cleaned houses.

Living in America 'in fear'

Silva wanted to attend a magnet high school, but her parents said no because they were afraid someone would discover Silva was undocumented. But she applied behind their backs and was accepted. Silva finished magnet school at the top of her class and didn't want to stop there.

For the next five years, she worked as a babysitter in order to pay for community college classes, earning two associate's degrees in arts and political science. She then went on to earn her third degree from Nevada State College.

“But for all of my individual success, my family still lived in fear that we would be separated,” Silva wrote in a USA Today opinion piece.

Then in 2011, her father was detained and facing deportation.

“Just to have my dad in a detention center for one week was devastating to me,” Silva said during her December 2014 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her father’s deportation was deferred to 2014 and then later deferred again under President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive action.

Spotlighted by President Obama

PHOTO: President Barack Obama hugs Astrid Silva, an activist, as he arrives to deliver remarks on the new steps he will be taking within his executive authority on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nov. 21, 2014.
President Barack Obama hugs Astrid Silva, an activist, as he arrives to deliver remarks on the new steps he will be taking within his executive authority on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nov. 21, 2014.

Her speech at the 2016 DNC, however, was not the first time her story received national attention.

In announcing new executive action on immigration in 2014, President Obama used Silva’s story to show the plight of undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for most of their lives.

“Are we a nation that kicks out a striving, hopeful immigrant like Astrid, or are we a nation that finds a way to welcome her in?” President Obama said in his remarks to the nation on Nov. 20, 2014.

President Obama’s announcement of new immigration reform - Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or “DAPA” -- allowed her father temporary stay because her brother was born in America.

“When the president told my story, I looked at my dad, and then over to my mom, and I started crying with relief,” Silva wrote of her experience watching President Obama’s speech.

The next day, after the president’s speech, Silva introduced Obama at a rally at the Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.

Becoming an activist

Silva decided to become an immigration activist after her family could not return to Mexico to attend her grandmother’s funeral.

“That's when I realized I couldn't sit idly by and watch families being torn apart because of our broken immigration system. I knew I had to act,” Silva wrote in USA Today.

She co-founded the Dream Big Vegas organization in her community for immigration reform. She also struck up a friendship and partnership with former Nevada Senator and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to push for legislation.

“My family and I are here because of people like Sen. Harry Reid. Who put themselves in our shoes and helped us,” Silva said at the 2016 DNC.

Adding that her family still is fighting for legal citizenship, she said, “And while President Obama's immigration action protected me, we live in constant fear that my parents could be taken away from their grandson, Noah.”

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