Activist Juan Escalante Speaks on Immigrant Experience in ‘Amend: The Fight for America’

Lead Photo: Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
Art by Stephany Torres for Remezcla
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In the Netflix six-part docuseries Amend: The Fight for America, Oscar-nominated actor and host Will Smith and several historians and celebrities take audiences on an educational journey to understand the importance of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.

If you skipped that day in history class, the 14th Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States” and that states cannot “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

One of the interviewees during the series is Juan Escalante, a nationally recognized immigrant rights activist and proud Dreamer. During the series, Escalante discusses why he still believes in the promise of America.

“At the very core of that promise is hope,” Escalante says during the final episode of the series. “Hope that you will have the opportunity to pursue your dreams and, ultimately, the hope that we as a nation can continue to progress for what is just.”

Escalante shared more of his thoughts on what it means to be an American during the Netflix panel conversation AMEND: A Discussion on the Series and the Promise of America, which took place last Saturday (Feb. 27). Moderated by Trevor Noah (TV’s The Daily Show), the panel members continued their dialogue on the 14th Amendment and the ongoing struggle for social justice.

Escalante spoke about his parents who brought him to the United States when he was 11 years old, so that he could get a good education and better opportunities.

“The 14th Amendment has been at the foundation…of the immigrant experience,” Escalante says during the panel discussion. “I hope that one day if I have kids of my own that they’ll be able to achieve a slice of the American Dream as well.”

Escalante also expressed his beliefs that many conservative politicians are in favor of eliminating birthright citizenship, which would go against everything the 14th Amendment stands for.

“I’m an undocumented immigrant myself…covered under…DACA,” Escalante says. “If I were to have children, I would expect them…to be honored and given that same benefit and protection under the 14th Amendment that has been codified under the U.S. Constitution by everybody who fought for it.”

Amend: The Fight for America is currently streaming on Netflix.