Leadership Fellow Tolu Olubunmi was featured in the cover story of this week’s TIME magazine, as well as a TIME.com video. The cover story, written by the well-known journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, focuses on the growing immigration rights movement and what it means to be an American.
A year ago this month, Vargas “came out” as an undocumented immigrant in an essay for The New York Times Magazine and has since crisscrossed the country learning about the immigration debate. Vargas states, “There are an estimated 11.5 million people like me in this country, human beings with stories as varied as America itself.”
Olubunmi is an undocumented immigrant working on issues facing immigrants and their families. “I started in public policy in 2008 and I have devoted the past 4 years to working on the DREAM Act and broader immigration reform,” she says. “Over the years, my undocumented status has forced me to exist in the gray areas of society; working as an unpaid volunteer with a number of national immigrants’ rights organizations.”
On Friday, June 15, President Barack Obama announced that his administration would halt the deportation of many young immigrants without papers, who meet certain criteria. “I applaud President Obama’s bold and courageous decision to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to humanitarianism and fairness. I am thrilled for the thousands of young people whose lives have been changed, dreams restored and their great promise renewed,” says Olubunmi.
Olubunmi was born in Nigeria and brought to the United States at age 14. She graduated high school with honors and attended one of the nation’s top universities. Tolu received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2002 but is unable to work in her field because of her undocumented status. Since 2008 she has worked full time without pay advocating for passage of the DREAM Act and broader immigration reform.The above excerpt was originally published in New York Times.