As a not-fully-documented immigrant from Mexico, Donald Trump’s plan for mass deportations and building a 10ft. wall along the border is embedded in my brain. “They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists,” Trump said of us, while announcing his candidacy last June. His whole campaign has depended on messages of hatred toward people who aren’t white; (or orange in his case). Seriously, he needs to go to a better tanning salon, a billionaire who can’t afford a good fake tan can’t be the president of our country, but that’s personal opinion and beside the point.
Donald John Trump has devalued all the hard work that undocumented immigrants have done and continue to do to make America great, and that’s a fact. The jobs we’re “stealing”, are jobs that most of the general public doesn’t want or aspires to do. Underpaid housekeepers, agricultural workers under harsh conditions, unappreciated janitors, and machine operators at factories that don’t provide the correct benefits, are the most common jobs that undocumented immigrants are “stealing” from “true” American citizens. Frankly, because they’re the least regulated and beneficial jobs. The key to not getting deported, is to keep ourselves below the radar, keeping our families afloat by whatever means necessary, as physically demanding and mentally draining as they may be.
On the other hand, there are also some of us who are “half-documented” or “DACAmented”, as I’d like to call it. What I mean by that is that some undocumented immigrants, like myself, are on the path to residency and citizenship though the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Through this program, and if the requirements are met, undocumented immigrants are granted a two-year permission to reside in this country. Also, based on financial need, we’re allowed to work during our deportation-free stay. Most recipients of DACA are students, wanting a college education that can prepare them to contribute even more to the society we live in. We do not want to get stuck working below-minimum wage jobs, we want to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and journalists instead.
As a recipient of DACA myself, Trump’s wishes of shutting this program down bring a gray cloud over my head. This election is important because it’s shown that we’re stronger together, and voting is the key. However, as much as undocumented or half-documented immigrants have contributed to this country, this is one of the ways that we can’t. Voting is reserved for naturalized citizens. As much as we contribute, as much as we want to vote and elect a candidate who will represent us correctly, we can’t. We pay as much taxes as any “true” citizen does, we work twice as hard to prove ourselves worthy, we share the same goals as our communities, but we can’t vote. It’s the least ideal situation we could be in. More than half of the population doesn’t vote because they think their vote “doesn’t matter and won’t make a difference”. While they’re out and about, free of care, 11 million of us can only dream of writing down a checkmark next to our ideal candidate’s name. Or however it’s done. I wouldn’t know because I can’t go into one of those red-and-white-striped booths at my local elementary school and vote…
Panic fills my household as the days pass by and November 8th, 2016 gets closer. I try to remain calm and collected, but it’s hard when you have so much to lose. I’m Mexican, and proud to be, my Latina side comes out very often, but most of my culture is American. I grew up the same way as my blonde-haired, blue-eyed neighbor did. The same way as my chocolate-skin, brown-eyed friend. I grew up reciting the pledge of allegiance, singing the national anthem, reading, writing and speaking in English, working at my local mall, graduating from my community college and attending my local university afterward. I have hopes and dreams, which could only be possible and easier to attain in the land of the free and the home of the brave. If only I could vote to feel like I belonged.