Immigrant Rights Leader, Contributor to the DREAMers Blog Series
Maria Gabriela (“Gaby”) Pacheco is a nationally recognized immigrant rights leader. She gained national recognition in 2004 for her advocacy of the DREAM Act and immigration reform. In 2005, she co-started a Florida-based immigrant youth group advocating for in-state tuition for undocumented students. In 2006, Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) targeted her and in an early morning raid detained her family. In 2010, with three other undocumented students, they led the Trail of Dreams, a four-month walk from Miami to Washington, DC to call attention to the plight of immigrant under the threat of deportation and the need for immigration reform. In 2012, as political director for United We Dream, she spearheaded the efforts that led to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In 1993, at the age of eight, Pacheco immigrated to the United States with her family from Guayaquil, Ecuador. They arrived with tourist visas and were unable to secure legal resident status. On April 22, 2013, Pacheco became the first undocumented Latina to testify in front of Congress, speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the urgent need for immigration reform. In 2015, she delivered The New School Commencement speech, where she received a Doctoral Degree in Humanities Honoris Causa. Pacheco was recently named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30: Education in 2015 and has also been recognized as one of 40 Under 40: Latinos in American Politics. In August 2015, Pacheco was profiled in Elle magazine alongside America Ferrera, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick and others for a feature production on the world’s most accomplished 30-year-old women.
Gaby holds an Associate of Arts degree in Music Education, an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education, and a BA in Special Education K-12 from Miami Dade College.