A Letter to a Senator

A Letter to a Senator

"When Astrid Silva wrote her first letters to Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, she never really expected that he, or anyone else, would read the folded notes she slipped to the Nevada senator as he campaigned in the state she called home.

But in a way, it didn't matter. The words, written in her girlish hand, spilled out in a cathartic flow, a release of all the sadness and disappointment — and lingering hope — that had piled up inside the 21-year-old as she came to understand the netherworld she was caught in.

Her life was defined by one crucial moment, when she stepped onto a tire raft, wearing a frilly white dress and patent leather shoes, to be pulled across the Rio Grande with her mother. She was 4, carrying her Ken doll.

Now, as an adult, she had no legal status. Unable to work legally, she baby-sat for a living. Once tops in her class, she feared that her family would be deported if she applied to a university. Without a driver's license, she relied on friends or the bus to avoid the scorching Las Vegas streets.

The senator did not know what to make of the earnest woman who handed him that first letter in summer 2009. He recalled stuffing the note in a pocket and thinking it was "just a nuisance or something."

"And then I read it," he said.

And so began one of the more unusual relationships in Washington, a correspondence between a young woman in the country illegally and the most powerful man in the Senate." - Lisa Mascaro, L.A. Time, July 12, 2013.