Ivan Kashinsky/Panos Pictures

Vernon, California, USA

Gisel Villagomez, 33, the project and contracting manager at 3K Apparel Inc, her sister's garment factory. Gisel is a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and an essential worker who came to the United States from Mexico when she was two years old. The factory has produced of 100,000 masks and 85,000 reusable protective gowns throughout the pandemic. When she was 18, her mother and sister were deported to Mexico. At that point she had to drop out of college to pay the bills. She was hiding in the house during the ICE raid that took her mother and says she has PTSD from that incident, and often has nightmares of ICE raids. She was picked up by ICE and a bus took her south towards the border. Amazingly, the bus pulled over and she was freed at the last minute. Although she has DACA, she says she feels like she is living in a cage, and the cage is the United States. Gisel says it feels like people on both sides shame her. The conservatives say she shouldn't be in the USA, and the undocumented people feel jealous that she has a work permit.


''It was 2007 when they came to get my mom. I was in my room. It was about six in the morning. There was a loud bang and my mom decides to answer the door and my sister was with her. It was just a knock saying open up it's the police. All of us had just bought that house. That was crushing because I was going to college and I was helping my mom pay the mortgage. So I had to drop out of college to try and save the mortgage. I wasn't able to. That still makes me sad cause that was my mom's life savings.''

''Then they came for me.''

''It was a horrible experience (being detained by ICE). Horrible in the sense that they tell you that you don't belong somewhere youâve been all your life and that no matter what you do, nothing is good enough for this country.''

''DACA came on and there was hope given to us, or a more empty hope. Thankfully we were given the right to work, but we can never leave the country or slip up because if we do we get kicked out.''

''I'm really grateful for DACA, but we want more. I want more. Because I deserve more. We deserve more. We've taken care of this county long enough. They can take care of us.''

''I would have nightmares. I would be in my room or at a gathering and suddenly there were a bunch of agents walking in to the place where I was at. And there was this horrible feeling, like this is it. Itâs kind of like you die. Because you have to let go of everything you have here and you just have to accept it.''

''We're not here stealing. We're not here doing bad things. We're here just trying to co-exist and make this trying to make this a better place. And work, work to try to reach a piece of that America Dream, but sometimes it turns into a nightmare.''

''I'm married. We've actually started my petition to get my residency but lawyer is not very encouraging. Because of my deportation order that is still hanging over my head. They can ask reope

Object Name
Ivan Kashinsky/Panos Pictures
Vernon, California
Max size
High Resolution
5000 x 3333 pixels
42.33 x 28.22 cm (300 dpi)
16.67 x 11.11 inch (300 dpi)
5.6 MB size on disk
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