You may have heard of Julissa Arce from the bombshell profile published in Bloomberg last year, or maybe you caught some of the glowing praise lavished on her 2016 memoir My (Underground) American Dream. Either way, the former Goldman Sachs vice president has emerged as one of this country’s most high-profile undocumented success stories, and she’s turned her own struggles into action as chair and co-founder of New York’s Ascend Educational Fund (AEF).
So it’s understandable that HBO Latino reached out to Arce for their election-season special, Habla y Vota. Featured alongside representatives from the worlds of music, movies, and television, Arce poignantly details some of the difficulties she encountered in her path toward success before laying out a moving case for voting on election day. Speaking with a fiery passion tinged with lingering pain, Arce recounts how she was unable to be by her father’s side when he died in Mexico nine years ago. At the time, she was an analyst at Goldman Sachs with forged work documents, and a last-minute trip to Mexico would imply leaving everything she had built behind.
But, as Arce makes clear, her story isn’t simply a moving homage to the sacrifices immigrants make to thrive in this country: it’s a reason run to the polls. “You may not know the names of the 11 million undocumented immigrants, but your vote is going to impact their lives,” she reminds us without mincing words. “Your voice can be the difference between a young girl achieving her dream of going to college or not… Your vote can be the difference between whether a daughter can be by her father’s bedside when he’s dying.”
Watch the heartbreaking clip below.
If you still needed a reason to vote, you won’t find a better one than this. You can stream the Habla y Vota special in its entirety for free on HBO Latino’s YouTube Channel.