PLAYER PROFILE

Belén Sisa

Deputy National Press Secretary for 2020 Bernie Sanders Campaign for President

Belén Sisa, the former deputy national press secretary for Bernie Sanders, is the only DACA recipient to ever hold a senior position in a major campaign for president of the United States.

Brought to the U.S. from Argentina when she was six years old, Sisa, now in her 20s, grew up in the shadow of Arizona’s SB 1070 law, which required local and state law enforcement to check the immigration status of all persons during routine detentions and traffic stops. Some, though not all, of the law was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012. Sisa enrolled in DACA once President Obama initiated the program in 2012 and, at 19, she got her first job working in the office of an immigration attorney.

Sisa became an activist at Arizona State University where she majored in political science and co-founded Undocumented Students for Education Equity (USEE). She began direct engagement with national politics when she was one of two DACA recipients to serve as a page for the Arizona delegation at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

In March 2017, Sisa posted a picture of herself on Facebook holding up her tax form. “I, an undocumented immigrant, just filed my taxes and PAID $300 to the state of Arizona,” she wrote in the post. “I cannot receive financial aid from the state or federal government for school, I cannot benefit from unemployment, a reduced healthcare plan, or a retirement fund. I think I’m a pretty good citizen.” The post was shared more than 6,000 times.

Her activism intensified, and she was one of eight DACA recipients to be arrested in December of 2017 after participating in a sit-in outside congressional offices in support of the DREAM Act. “We constantly hear Republicans say they are pro-life,” she wrote in an essay, “yet they ignore the lives of migrant children.”

As Sisa’s profile grew, she caught the attention of Bernie Sanders who, in February 2019, hired her to be the deputy national press secretary for his presidential campaign. Many of Sisa’s positions on immigration issues are aligned with those of her former boss. She explained her support for him in a 2019 interview: “He is not going to put a Jared Kushner in charge of writing immigration policy when he hasn’t had a hard day in his life. You put people who actually know something about this, because either they’ve been personally affected, which is, I think, the best way to go about it, or actually have the knowledge to put something in place that’s humane, that’s dignified, and that’s fair.”

Despite ultimately losing the Democratic nomination for president, Sanders was able to notch big wins in Nevada and California on the strength of his support among Hispanics. “It’s not just about ads,” Sisa said in a 2019 interview about Sanders’s popularity among Latinx voters. “It’s not just about trying to knock on their door right before the primary. It’s about putting people who look like them on the campaign, it’s about making them feel like they’re capable.”

SOURCES:

Sisa’S IDEAS

  • Border Security

    Sisa emphasizes finding a way to change immigration policy to be more welcoming, de-emphasizing any focus on further securing the border region.

  • Border Wall

    Sisa is a vocal critic of wall construction, opposing it so strongly that she does not support extending DACA protections in exchange for additional funding for construction.

  • Detention

    Sisa has been a critic of immigrant detention, especially when children are involved. She has written and spoken out about the children who have died in detention, using their stories to advocate against the practice altogether.

  • Immigration Courts

    No statement found.

  • Undocumented Population

    Sisa advocates for ending “the cruel and inhumane deportation programs,” supporting a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants without a serious criminal record.

  • ICE

    Sisa has been a consistent critic of the agency, advocating for its abolishment. She has referred to the officers of the agency as “agents of Trump’s deportation & murder force.”

  • DACA

    Sisa is a DACA recipient and a leading advocate for passage of the DREAM Act.

  • Asylum

    Sisa advocates for a process that is more accessible and that yields a higher rate of acceptance. She said in a 2019 interview, “I want to see…a humane and inclusive asylum policy [so] that we’re not going to have people under bridges. We’re not going to have children dying in custody when they’re here escaping political and economic violence.”

  • Central America Policy

    As part of Bernie Sanders’s campaign team, Sisa advocates for restoring aid to the region and getting at the root causes of the violence in the region.

  • Visas

    Sisa advocates for an expanded immigrant workforce by demonstrating through social media posts that undocumented immigrants pay taxes.