Uncertainty, incredulity and fright, unsure of what will happen next.
That summarizes the sentiment in the immigrant community after their worst fears became a reality — the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton for president.
Inspired by a Republican candidate who angered the Latino electorate when he launched his campaign calling Mexicans “rapists” and “murderers,” the Hispanic vote turned out in historic droves. But it wasn’t enough to defeat Trump. And now his promises of massive deportation and the construction of a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border seems like a distant yet menacing prospect.
For the undocumented who had seen small, but incremental progress towards more acceptance with Obama’s DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which benefited nearly a million young men and women who were brought into the country illegally as children, now there’s a “wait and fear” approach.
With Republicans in control of Congress, it is unlikely — if not impossible — to have an immigration reform proposal under President Trump.
“We’re worried, sad,” admitted Maria Galvan, a Van Nuys resident who has lived in the country undocumented for the past 16 years.
For much of the summer and fall, Galvan, an activist with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) has knocked on doors, made calls and this past week taken voters to the polls to vote. Now she says she remains vigilant to what may come.
Galvan, 46, said she doesn’t think Trump will have the massive deportation he promised during the campaign.
“This is not going to stay here. We’re going to keep fighting, watching that people don’t become aggressive because this man (Trump) encouraged people to do so,” she said.
“Since I came here I know I can be deported every moment. I know it will be difficult for him to get people out. This four years won’t be enough for him to take out people massively. People are going to unite and help one another to stop unfair deportations,” Galvan added.
Also in play are her daughters, Zuleyma, 25, and Saira Barajas, 24, both of whom benefited through DACA, which stops deportation for two years and gives recipients a work permit.
“They just renewed (DACA). This man has four years and he can’t remove this just like that, I think they (my daughters) can survive a year without documents. They’ve seen their parents do it all this time. They’ll have to save for difficult times,” Galvan said.
Pro-Immigrant Groups Promise To Fight
Galvan’s vows to fight are backed by pro-immigrant groups, who after recovering from the surprising Trump victory, promise to do the same.
“It is unfortunate that fear mongering and race-baiting are enough to help elect the leader of one of the most diverse nations in the world. As unpleasant as it may be, we need to look at how successful this divisive campaign has marginalized anyone and everyone who is not white or male. It is a shame that many in America still believe that some of us are less worthy of respect, humanity, and basic protections than others,” stated Angelica Salas, CHIRLA executive director.
“We are prepared to engage directly and fully with the next Administration to ensure none of the awful, negative, and impractical proposals Donald Trump made come to be. We have to be ready and persistent. If [Wisconsin Rep. Jim] Sensenbrenner could not come to be, neither will Trump’s demagoguery,” Salas added.
RedMex Condemns “Racism And Xenophobia”
The Red Mexicana de Líderes y Organizaciones Migrantes (RedMex) also came out forcefully against any attempts of massive deportations and condemned the “racism and xenophobia that have allowed Donald J. Trump to become the 45th president of the United States.”
“It is shocking to me that the people of the United States can allow a man with neofascist ideas and no record of public service to reach the highest office of the land,” said Angela Sanbrano, executive director of RedMex. “We will not allow our communities to be victimized and persecuted.”
For his part, Juan Jose Gutierrez, an active member of at the Full Rights For Immigrants Coalition, which has organized several pro-immigrant marches in Los Angeles, also said “we’re going to do anything to protect our community.”
However, he noted that while Trump has been sketchy on details about his proposals, including how he will get rid of the estimated 11 million undocumented currently in the United States, it remains unclear what steps will be needed to offer that protection.
“We don’t think mass persecution of immigrants and massive deportation is realistic, but anything that threatens our community, we will defend against it,” Gutierrez noted. “We’re not going to stay idle.”