Hiding In Plain Sight: My Life As An Undocumented American
Four years ago, Leezia was almost deported. She learned she had unknowingly overstayed her visa during her junior year at Northwestern University, when the Department of Homeland Security mailed her a Notice to Appear in immigration court—essentially the first step in the deportation process. In this talk, Leezia will delve into her personal experience as an undocumented American to explain why nearly 12 million immigrants choose to live in the United States without the social, economic, and legal protections afforded to documented residents. Her goal is to simplify the complexity of the immigration system so that people better understand what it means to be undocumented in America.
Leezia Dhalla is an executive communications specialist at Rackspace Hosting, overseeing the company’s speaker’s bureau for the Americas region. She is a first generation American, of African and Indian descent, who immigrated to Texas from Canada in 1996. Leezia’s interest in writing and foreign affairs led her to Northwestern University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science.
Leezia is also the weekend cops reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and serves as secretary of the SA2020 Commission on Education. As a news reporter, her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and the San Antonio Express-News, among other media. In April 2014, Leezia’s research with Northwestern University’s Medill Innocence Project, a journalism think tank that investigates cases of potentially wrongful convictions, contributed to the release of an inmate who spent nine years incarcerated in an Illinois prison. Her work helped Medill to win the Investigative Reporters & Editors Award and the Peter Lisagor Award for best online feature story.