Starting in 1979 and throughout the 1980s, El Salvador suffered a brutal civil war (which American policy and interference exacerbated). One of the victims of that civil war was Alma Velasco. When she was 16, her mother sent her north through Mexico and across the border to live with her uncle in California.

Alma has since become a legal resident of the United States thanks to an amnesty program, and has given up her dreams of getting a degree and an education, choosing instead to work in an American Apparel factory as a seamstress so she can support her children and give them the education she never had.

Alma’s story is an incredible one that is all too common in the United States — and which is often much worse thanks to draconian American immigration policies. Nonetheless, it’s always inspiring to see women like Alma keeping the American Dream alive.