SWFL paramedic gets chance to speak at the DNC

A Southwest Florida man explained his journey as an immigrant to the United States when he was a child, and his continued fight to remain a contributing member of American society. His efforts have been noticed and he is now expected to have a chance to speak in front of the Democratic Party.

Aldo Martinez carried a backpack with two bottles of Pedialyte inside at age 12 for seven days on his journey to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

“It was extremely difficult. I remember, you know, just the flashbacks is very difficult to describe,” Martinez said.

That word, “difficult,” is how Martinez continues to describe his experience. “It was extremely difficult. I fell on a cactus. I remember that hail, I remember sliding on the ice, I remember when it was raining, pouring, you know, the water in your eyes and then it’s dark and you can’t see. You can’t make noise,” he said.

Six years later, Martinez applied to become a DACA recipient. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was created to protect immigrants that came to America as children.

Today, Martinez is a paramedic in Fort Myers on the front lines fighting COVID-19.

“During the first months, it was extremely difficult. Not only did I have the weight of the Supreme Court decision on my shoulders but I was also worried about infecting my family, infecting my friends,” he said.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to keep the DACA program alive, which meant keeping Martinez and thousands of other frontline Dreamers at work.

“If you have 30,000 people less, you’re putting the entire country at risk,” Martinez said.

The Democratic Party heard Martinez’s story and loved it so much that they invited him to speak at the Democratic National Convention.

“You’re right, I cannot vote. However, I believe that by sharing my story and sharing my struggle, I hope to be able to at least inspire one person to go out and vote for me. Be my voice,” he said.

The Democratic National Convention begins next Monday and wraps up Thursday, but Martinez said he isn’t sure what day he’ll be speaking.

His ultimate goal is to become a trauma surgeon.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Drew Hill
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