By Yatziri Tovar
Next Tuesday, November 6th, my husband will be voting, my brother will voting, and my best friend will be voting. I can’t vote, but they’re going to cast their ballots for me.
For the last year and nine months, Donald Trump and his administration have unleashed a barrage of white supremacist rhetoric, coupled with policies that attack all communities who do not fill their standard of white, male and rich. As a Dreamer — a young immigrant with temporary protection from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — I’ve been one of their targets.
I still remember the morning of September 5th, 2017. I watched on my laptop screen as Jeff Sessions repeatedly called Dreamers like me “aliens,” trying to make me feel ashamed of who I was, as he announced the termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The country’s most powerful law enforcement official was terminating my safety, my ability to dream of long-term plans, and leading me to constantly live with anxiety of fearing deportation and separation from my family.
Since then, most days getting up is a struggle. What awaits me is another out-of-control tweet from Trump, or Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen posing at the border to vilify asylum seekers, while real live bombs are being delivered to the homes of administration opponents.
Of course, immigrants like me are not Trump’s only targets. The administration is trying to erase our transgender community by defining gender exclusively in terms of anatomy at birth. Trump himself has lobbed paper towels at Puerto Ricans while bungling the emergency response, and then denying the thousands of deaths caused by his negligence. And his Muslim Ban remains a stain on our nation’s conscience.
Trump and his Republican supporters have threatened the health care of all, disregarded the voices of American women by forcing through the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and have showed their disdain for the planet and future generations by pulling out of the Paris Accord.
But as the attacks on communities show no signs on slowing, neither will immigrants. For the last several months, I have urged my U.S. citizen family members, my neighbors, and my friends who are eligible to register to vote. And on Tuesday, November 6, they will proudly and defiantly head to the polls.
Our community’s Election Day message is clear: we need elected officials who will work for respect and dignity for all, not try to tear us apart. Enough with this administration trying to strip me of my humanity and making me fear that the next time I’m faced with the topic of immigrant detention, it will be about me inside those cages.
Every morning I wake up with anxiety, but I’ve decided to channel that energy into action.
I have helped first time voters register, participated in phone banking sessions, and knocked on hundreds of doors — and I will not stop. I am not able to vote, but I know my voice will be heard because my community is listening and taking action. On November 6, I know they will be voting for me.
Some people are saying that immigrant and Latino voters aren’t excited about voting this year. Well, that’s not what I’ve heard from my neighbors. And from what I’ve heard from other members of the community organization, Make the Road Action, whose members are knocking on more than 300,000 doors in five states this year, our community is fired up.
On Tuesday, November 6, our community knows that have the power to unite our neighborhoods, to win back state legislatures and Governor’s mansions, and, most importantly, take back at least one chamber of Congress to stop the attacks from Washington. We are fighting to elect representatives who will support working class people, people of color and immigrants by standing up to keep all families together, for women’s right to choose and be protected from sexual violence, and for an economy that works for all of us.
Together, we must save our democracy.
We have flooded the streets, packed courtrooms, filled Congress, and now we must vote. Our families, our communities, and our future is at stake.
Yatziri Tovar is a Dreamer living in New York and a member of Make the Road Action. On Twitter: @yatziritovar @MaketheRoadAct