Tam Tran and Cinthya Felix were among the first group of undocumented students to graduate from college and enter graduate school. Against all odds, they became models of leadership and activism. Tragically, in 2010, they were killed in a car accident by a drunk driver, but their legacy lives on to encourage undocumented students to go to college and fight for immigrant justice. Tran and Felix grew up in Southern California in working-class immigrant families, where they dealt with inequality firsthand. Tran was Vietnamese, and Felix was Mexican; together, they were “Undocumented and Unafraid,” the motto of the early undocumented student movement. Tran, a talented filmmaker, testified in Congress for passage of the federal Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would grant citizenship to undocumented students in the United States. Felix was a founding member of Improving Dreams, Equity, Access and Success (IDEAS) at UCLA, and worked to promote health care access in immigrant communities. Both risked going public with their struggles as undocumented students to encourage thousands of others to come out of the shadows, proclaim their stories, and embrace their resilience.
“Tam and Cinthya were extraordinary young women, not only were they brilliant students, but they were leaders and were among the first in the country to publicly proclaim that they were undocumented and unafraid.” – Kent Wong