LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – One of the big issues that impact nearly every election is immigration. A young Las Vegas valley community activist is taking center stage to become a voice for those fearing deportation or family separation.
Emily Hernandez found her path to do just that through pageantry when she competed for the first time in 2018 in Miss Teen El Salvador.
“I know it’s my passion to speak up for my community for my dad for many other families,” Hernandez said. “Right when I got into Miss El Salvador was right when the Trump Administration ended TPS for my dad and for many other TPS holders in the country so, I decided to use my voice as an immigrant activist. I would say every single family that had children with TPS was worried.”
According to the Pew Research Center, Temporary Protected Status or TPS offers temporary protection from deportation. The Biden Administration recently renewed TPS eligibility for thousands of immigrants from places including Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, and El Salvador.
Hernandez said her family is the reason why she became an activist for immigrant rights.
“Living in a mixed status is very hard, I have a brother who has DACA, my dad who has TPS, my mom currently doesn’t have a status [and] I’m the only U.S.-born citizen in my family,” she said.
Her father, Donis Hernandez is standing proud by her side.
“I feel privileged, I feel very happy that she participates in what she is standing up for till this day,” Dons said.
He told 8 News Now that Hernandez has found a way to make sure the family feels comfortable as she continues in the immigration debate.
“I believe that her being in pageants, she has found a way for her voice to be heard and influence others to do the same,” Donis said.
He says Emily has always been fierce and an adventurer. Part of that adventure led her to the White House to join a march in 2018.
“In one of the marches I spoke in front of 4,000 people and when I came back one of the teachers had shown the classroom me speaking in front of everybody,” Hernandez said.
One of the people is New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Since then, Hernandez said the journey hasn’t stopped.
“This all happened when I was 12 years old and now I am 19 and we’re still in the fight and we’re still not giving up,” she said.
A fight a daughter and father are walking together every step of the way.
“For Hispanic Heritage Month, just knowing that your voice is very powerful [and] it’s never too late to use your voice,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez is now preparing to compete in Nuestra Belleza Teen USA where she will continue speaking up about TPS. She currently attends UNLV where she is majoring in political science.
To learn more about Temporary Protected Status, click here.