By Stephanie Gallardo

[Editor’s Note]:

Stephanie Gallardo, who is running as a democratic socialist in Washington’s 9th congressional district, has issued a statement surrounding her husband’s undocumented status. In the statement, published below, Gallardo writes that she and her husband decided to disclose his status to “ [strengthen] his ability to self-determine his circumstances, and [make] a bold statement to all undocumented people in this nation that you deserve to be seen.” 

Gallardo is challenging incumbent Democratic Adam Smith in the 2022 Democratic primary. Smith is the current Chair of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, where he has recently presided over a push for even more defense spending in the latest National Defense Authorization Act. 

Read the full statement from Gallardo below:


Stephanie and her husband Jorge are experiencing a visceral reaction to what we are witnessing as a nation. Immigrant and refugee communities were promised safety, dignity, and justice by our President, Vice President, and elected leaders. Instead, Black Haitian asylum
seekers are being brutally whipped and dehumanized on the U.S./Mexico border, Guantanamo Bay is now slated to be an immigrant detention center, and immigrant detentions have risen by nearly 70% since President Biden took office.

We are incensed, indignant, and justifiably enraged by the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). We are also intensely critical of the Biden administration’s agenda, which has effectively brutalized, dehumanized, and incarcerated immigrants. The statement we are choosing to share today comes at a moment in history where immigrants and refugees are undeniably under attack.

Today, Jorge and Stephanie stand united by love, solidarity, and an unwavering commitment to transparency in our pursuit of justice. In a nation that truly valued immigrants and refugees, we would not have to write this statement. However, after meticulous consideration and discussion as a family, we have decided that by sharing our family reality with the public, we can elevate the plight of immigrant communities, stand proudly and unapologetically in our determination to create a more just world for immigrants of all statuses, and center the experiences of undocumented people.

There are more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, Jorge happens to be one of them. Our family has painstakingly agonized over whether to share this information publicly, as our number one concern has and will always be his safety. While making this public statement is inherently risky and invites the prying eyes of an American media that is extremely critical of undocumented people, we believe that by being open and transparent about Jorge’s status, we are strengthening his ability to self-determine his circumstances, and making a bold statement to all undocumented people in this nation that you deserve to be seen, you deserve dignity, and you deserve safety.

Stephanie Gallardo against a white and green background
Photo by People of the 9th for Stephanie

We are also hyper-aware of the fact that as a Congressional candidate, Stephanie is under a microscope in a way that most others are not. Before she decided to run for Congress, Jorge’s safety was our first consideration. We considered deeply the impact this information may have on our ability to stay united as a couple in this country. There is no measure to the fear our family experiences when considering the prospect of potential detention or separation by deportation. However, as a couple, we stand firmly in our belief that our family reality is not to be hidden. There is no shame in being undocumented. There is no shame in the vulnerability it takes to seek a new life. Despite how others may frame our reality, we are a typical multicultural mixed-status American family, and we are proud of that. What is shameful is an imperialist system that creates harm and then blames migrants for their own circumstances. Underscoring our desire to be upfront about Jorge’s status is the need for this nation to reckon with its role in creating immigrants and refugees worldwide.

Jorge’s story is not unique. Millions of immigrants and refugees are in the same situation as he is, and live under constant fear and anxiety. Millions of immigrants and refugees have no pathway to a green card and live paycheck to paycheck, paying taxes to our state and federal governments with no support in return. While the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has been imperative in giving hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants the freedom to work without facing deportation, it is not enough. The stipulations and requirements to qualify for DACA protection are onerous and difficult to navigate and are contingent upon reapplication every two years. For those who don’t qualify for DACA, there is virtually no path toward safety in this country. The barriers for all undocumented people are endless and unjust.

No human being deserves to live under constant fear of being apprehended by ICE, as Jorge has lived for the past 15 years. No human being deserves to live without access to healthcare for 14 years, as Jorge has. No human being deserves to suffer silently, alone, and in fear, as so many undocumented immigrants do. We believe that by sharing Jorge’s experience, we are shining light on the realities that so many undocumented immigrants face, and making an explicit call to our federal government to fulfill their promises. As a couple, we are committed to holding our elected officials accountable, and demand action. There is no more time to wait. Undocumented people deserve justice now.

We want to thank our immediate and extended families for unquestionably supporting Jorge, and for being a constant source of support throughout our marriage – it is community that sustains us. We stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees of all statuses and will continue in our efforts to advance justice through the pursuit of a moral and humane immigration system.

In solidarity,

Jorge Lara Alvarado and Stephanie Gallardo