VotoLatino Logo presents

Countdown to Votolatino at SXSW

    Our Panel

    Our Panel

    Defending Dreamers


    On September 5th, the Trump administration decided to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, leaving 800,000 immigrant youth and their families in limbo. The individuals who came to the U.S. as children were looking for opportunity when they surrendered their personal information to the Department of Homeland Security and signed up for DACA.

    There has never been a more critical moment to fight for Dreamers and a permanent legislative solution for immigrant youth. Hear why and how you can support the social movement post-protection deadline with strategies from the front lines.


    Panel Information

    Defending Dreamers
    March 14, 2018
    5-6 PM
    Westin Austin Downtown

    Sign Up to Attend the Panel!




    Juan Escalante

    America’s Voice

    Communications Manager, America’s Voice

    With much foresight to the oncoming political violence, Juan Escalante’s parents fled Venezuela, with Juan and his two brothers in tow, for the United States in 2000. In 2006, an immigration attorney mishandled the Escalante’s case, and they lost their immigration status – leaving the entire as “undocumented immigrants” in the United States.

    By the time President Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, Juan had graduated from Florida State University with a political science degree and had helped spearhead some of the digital tactics that are still being used by the Dreamer movement.

    Thanks to DACA, Juan was able to return to FSU for a Master’s degree in public administration and continue his immigration work as a digital advocate. 

    A coffee enthusiast and firm proponent of pineapple on pizza, Escalante’s work has been covered and published in a wide range of publications including The New York Times, USA Today, Univision, and CNN.  

    He currently serves as the Communications Manager of the immigrant advocacy group in Washington DC and writes a bi-weekly column for the Huffington Post. 


    Maria Praeli

    Policy Associate,

    Maria Praeli moved to the United States in 1999 when she was five years old to seek medical treatment for her sister, whose leg was amputated in a car accident. Born in Peru, Maria attended public schools in Connecticut before earning her associate’s degree in liberal arts from Gateway Community College in New Haven, CT and then a bachelor’s degree in political science from Quinnipiac University. Today, Maria is an  immigration policy associate at, a bipartisan organization that works to pass sensible immigration reform legislation. Her work focuses on strengthening outreach efforts to elected officials, providing education and resources on immigration policy to congressional offices, and working on special projects for various campaigns, including Immigrant Heritage Month. Prior to joining, Maria was the deputy director for canvass at Mi Familia Vota, where she worked on initiatives to build broad community partnerships and drive stronger vote engagement in Nevada.

    Jesus Contreras

    MCHD Paramedic

    Jessica Reeves

    Voto Latino

    COO, Voto Latino 

    Jessica Reeves is the Chief Operating Officer at Voto Latino. In her role, she is responsible for developing and managing key partnerships and programs that help to advance the organization’s mission to bring new and diverse voices into the political process by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change.

    Since joining Voto Latino in 2010, Jessica has been a leading player within the organization in cultivating partnerships with media, corporations and nonprofits to develop wide-impact civic engagement programs, including the inaugural National Voter Registration Day held September 25, 2012.

    Prior to joining Voto Latino, Jessica worked in General and Hispanic Market advertising where she helped launch award-winning digital and social media marketing campaigns for major brands, including Kraft, Twix and Domino’s Pizza among others.


    Panel Location

    Panel Location

    Dream Out Loud Concert!

    After our panel, join us again on Thursday, March 15 for the Dream Out Loud! Concert presented by Voto Latino and SXSW. Our lineup includes Los Lobos, Centavrvs and El Freaky Colectivo & Friends.

    Learn More