<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-KFP6QF" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden"></iframe> America Is An Idea, Not A Geography
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Seeking asylum in America is dangerous and marked by an almost interminable waiting—for a wholly uncertain fate.

Wilson, a.k.a. Punch, was born in LA to Salvadoran parents. He builds lowriders—and he didn’t think he’d live past 21.

Somali immigrants landed in Minneapolis after the 1991 civil war—now they’re redefining themselves as Somali-Americans.

Cesar was born in Mexico, and raised in Alabama, undocumented. He’s an American in every sense but on paper.

Shervin was born in Iran and grew up in San Jose. He’s an ‘80s enthusiast, and collects cars and all kinds of memorabilia from the era.

Zahraa is a single mother, a Muslim, and an American. She lives in Los Angeles with her three sons.

Film Directed by Mohammad Gorjestani & Andrew Batista Photography by Ike Edeani

“I don’t think Jesus had a social security number. He was a refugee. He fled from the same circumstances so many people flee today.”

Cesar on a busy sidewalk in downtown Nashville

Faith is a huge part of Cesar Virto’s life—it guides him during uncertain times. Cesar was born in Mexico and was brought to Alabama at the age of three. He’s a homeowner, businessman, writer, and Lyft driver. Life in America is all he knows. But when he found out he was undocumented as a young man, life in America became nothing but uncertainty.

“I was sixteen, in driver’s ed class. And the school took me out, saying I wasn’t eligible to get a driver’s license. That’s how I found out I was undocumented. And when I started doing research about being undocumented, I realized that all those dreams had nine numbers—going to college, getting scholarships...all that required a social security number.”

Cesar stayed angry. He rebelled. His grades dropped. “The teachers would ask me why I wasn’t trying, and I would say, ‘Okay, if I try, what happens? I could go to college? No, that’s for white people.’ And that’s it. I just stopped caring.”


Cesar is regularly invited to speak at other churches to tell his story.


Cesar believes, "Christianity is for everyone."

Cesar standing outside a church 01.
Cesar holding a bible 02.
I get messages from pastors telling me that I’m living in sin, that I shouldn’t be preaching or speaking God's word because I’m undocumented.

After he was caught vandalizing a home with a friend, Cesar caught a break: instead of pressing charges, the homeowners, an older couple, requested that he make things right by helping them with yard work. This led to an unlikely friendship, and soon Cesar was attending church with them. As he puts it: “That’s how I was ushered into Christianity.” He remains a churchgoer today.

His faith has been tested over the years. He has been both supported and reviled by his Christian community: church members chipped in to pay his tuition at a Bible college, whereas others have written him privately to tell him he should return to Mexico. “They would say, ‘Hey, you should just come back in the right way. You’re living in sin.’ That’s my own religion telling me I'm not good enough for it.”

Cesar isn’t cowed. He has gone public with his undocumented all-American story, writing and speaking in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, of which he is a recipient. DACA has allowed Cesar and thousands of others who were brought, undocumented, to the United States by their parents to stay, work, and thrive here—and it could be repealed at any moment.

Cesar fills his daily uncertainty with a kind of forward momentum, speaking regularly about his situation and immigration at churches, if they’ll have him. He’s never forgotten that he, once, was looked after; guided by his faith, he tries to do the same for others. “I don't think God put me in a position so I can look down on my own people,” he says. “My role is to be a bridge between Hispanics and Americans.”


Cesar enjoying a summer evening with friends.


Cesar describes, "When I'm driving with my windows down, or just taking some sweet tea in a mason jar, I feel American, just like anybody else."

Cesar and his friends enjoy a drink outside on a summer afternoon 01.
Cesar at a bar with a large American flag behind him 02.
I feel like an Alabama football fan. They have season tickets, their man-cave is full of ’Bama stuff, but most of them don’t have an Alabama degree. I have everything American: I have a house, I have a car, a great job, but I just don’t have that diploma—that citizenship.

Neither Cesar nor any other DACA recipient knows what will become of the program or their lives—and homes, and jobs, and families—in America. In the meantime, Cesar finally got his license, allowing him to drive legally. “As soon as I got it, I drove to see a friend in Florida, six hours away, and I just remember just crying like a baby and feeling like all this weight that I was bearing for the longest time was just falling away with every mile.”

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Every issue contributing to our current immigration crisis is interconnected. Your stories inspire us to continue to take a stand — when our community of riders and drivers is threatened, we’re encouraged to take action.

In honor of Cesar, we are humbled to support FWD.us — a bipartisan political organization that believes America’s families, communities, and economy thrive when more individuals are able to achieve their full potential. FWD.us advocates to protect the rights of DACA recipients, TPS holders, and DED holders.

Please join us in supporting them.

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