A Bay Area teenager on Saturday used her quinceañera to send a message about immigration by holding the celebration outside a detention facility in Richmond while her father remains detained.
Alexa Lopez is a United States citizen, but her father Raul Lopez is an undocumented immigrant who has been detained for the last 15 months.
The teenager celebrating her 15th birthday with the traditional ceremony admitted it has been "sad and hard" for her to both grow up without her father for the past several months and enjoy the coming-of-age celebration without him.
"I was really hoping that my dad would be here with me by this time and me dancing with him, but instead my cousin's going to be representing him," Alexa Lopez said Saturday.
It is not clear when or if Raul Lopez will be deported or allowed to return to his wife and four children.
Alexa Lopez's quinceañera came as part of a larger event. Community and faith leaders were also in attendance outside the detention center, spotlighting the ongoing issues that have resulted in the separation of immigrant families.