Monica Valdivias is an undocumented, aspiring immigration defense attorney, studying at the University of California Berkeley and majoring in gender and women's studies. Monica immigrated to the United States when she was four years old, a witness to the discrimination her mother faced for being undocumented, which, in turn, motivated her to graduate from high school and be the first of four siblings to pursue higher education.
After interning for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Monica was able to gain further knowledge on a variety of immigration issues people face on a daily basis, such as deportations and creating petitions to prevent them, and applying for a visas. Speaking to families that were separated and placed in immigration detention centers, attending press conferences, and helping organize petitions allowed Monica to develop a sense of pride in her identity as a DACA recipient and as an undocumented minority. After graduating, Monica hopes to attend law school to continue assisting the undocumented community through affordable legal services.
During her time as a DreamSF Fellow, Monica hopes to learn how to take declarations, help the undocumented community apply for visas or naturalization, if they qualify, and learn effective strategies to help clients feel comfortable. For the fellowship, Monica is placed at Asian Pacific Legal Outreach and is helping prepare asylum, U-visa, and other applications, working one on one with clients, filing applications, and continuing to develop her understanding of the legal immigration sector.
In her free time, Monica indulges in reading, tutoring children in local elementary schools, and loves hiking.