Nova Bajamonti had been waiting for the right moment to finally reveal a secret she had kept for more than a decade. The right moment finally came on Thursday when she attended the Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation event with Hillary Clinton at the Lower East Side Girls Club in Manhattan.
The 19-year-old anxiously waited until the question-and-answer session to make her big reveal. When the moment finally came, she raised her hand and was called on by actress America Ferrera, who was moderating the event. Standing in front of her peers, Bajamonti got straight to the point.
I have a very different glass ceiling than some of the girls are exhibiting here, she said. For the first time publicly, I want to say that I am an undocumented immigrant.
Filled with emotion, Bajamonti broke into tears. The audience gave her a round of applause as a way to encourage her. She took a deep breath and began talking about how she was born in Split, Croatia, and came to live in the United States when she was 5 years old.
Its been very hard because I dont have the documentation here to get a job, to vote which is essential obviously to women representation to buy an apartment, to take out a loan to go to college, so I couldnt even go to my dream college because of that, she said.
Bajamonti went on to say she is not the only one going through this. She said there are 11 million people who are living in the U.S. without a lawful status like her.
Hillary Clinton strongly favors immigration reform
Before sitting down, Bajamonti posed a question about immigration reform for Clinton:
What do we need to do to put this in priority when it comes to Congress, because this is an extreme glass ceiling for me that I can’t even control?
Clinton sympathized with Bajamonti. The former secretary of state and potential presidential candidate for 2016 commended the 19-year-old for being incredibly brave in coming out as undocumented.
Thank you for doing that because its important to put ourselves in other peoples shoes, Clinton said.
She went on to tell Bajamonti, I believe strongly we are missing a great opportunity by not welcoming people like you and 11 million others who have made contributions to our country into a legal status.
Clinton also said she is strongly in favor of the immigration reform bill approved by the Senate last June. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the Senate but stalled in the House, which Clinton referred to as a big missed opportunity for our country.
I am a huge supporter of immigration reform and a path to citizenship and will continue to advocate for that, she said.