I admit, this election has evoked immense fear, nostalgia and uncertainty within me. Soon after realizing Donald Trump was headed for the White House on Tuesday night, I could not control the tears flooding down my cheeks as I felt the darkness of his presidency creeping in.
A drowning sense of hopelessness and desolation quickly took over me as I sat next next to my husband, crying. I cried for humanity, for women, for the LGBTQ community. I cried for my friends who are African-Americans and Muslim-Americans, I cried for our environment.
But most of all, I cried for the millions of immigrants, like my family and DACA recipients like myself, whose future in America was more uncertain than ever. I wish I could say I cried myself to sleep that night, but the outcome of the election even took that away from me.
During Trump’s presidential campaign, one of the first actions he promised to take — apart from deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants — was to revoke President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an executive order that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children to work and study without fear of deportation.
The thought of DACA's repeal has since shaken me to my core. Without DACA, more than 800,000 individuals like myself would lose their jobs and financial stability. DACAmented professionals have been working as teachers, healthcare workers and engineers and are paying taxes, volunteering and investing in their communities. Instead of making great contributions to our country they would be forced back into the darkness and desolation of the shadows.
Just when I thought Wednesday couldn’t get any worse, that evening, I stopped by my parents’ home to see how they were doing. I will never forget the expression on my baby brother’s face when I walked through the door.
“Trump won,” he whispered as I hugged him. I could feel him burying his little face in my chest. I could feel his fear. “Are you going to take care of us?”
Are you going to take care of us? His question hung heavily in the air, creating a knot in my throat. It was a question no 6-year-old child should ever have to ask. What would happen to my three little brothers—all U.S. citizens—if our family got separated?
In that moment, it took all of my strength to fight back the tears that were swelling up again. I needed to be strong for them.
Suddenly, a quote Mrs. Serrano, my former English teacher, made us memorize in 11th grade, flashes in my mind. “These are the times that try men’s souls...Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
I find it hard to fathom that in 2016 —despite all of the strides we have made as a country— the words of Thomas Paine, one of our Founding Fathers during the American Revolution, are lingering in my mind.
Who would have ever thought we would be in this situation?
At this point, it seems there is little we can do to stop Trump from taking office come January 20, 2017. But while the world looks upon us with laughter and mockery, we must realize that the outcome of the election does not define who America is or what we stand for.
Trump may have won by the Electoral College, but he did not win by popular vote. The president-elect may have a quite a following, but millions of Americans and billions more around the world feel the way we do. We are not alone.
Despite the turmoil afflicting our country, the loudest voices aren’t always right. This time, more than ever, we must fight to be louder than they are. Alone, we don’t stand a chance against the segment who now feels empowered to raise their voices in favor of racism, xenophobia and misogyny. Together, the rest of America, including women, Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, the LGBTQ community and immigrants are a force to be reckoned with. Our voices matter. We matter.
Now is not the time to fight among us but to unite and mobilize for the greater good of the country we all love and are proud to call home. Now is not the time to shy away from reality and refuse to question the legality of the world around us but it's a time to read, seek knowledge and ask questions. Now is not the time to point fingers, but to look within us and bring forth the change we want to see in the world.
One of the many things that has always made America special is our diversity. We must use that diversity to our advantage and let it be our strength; our power. We must not let our voices that demand equality and respect be silenced by those who chant with hate and malice. We must speak up and stand together.
I don’t know what fate awaits us in January, or let alone the next four years of a Trump presidency. I am absolutely terrified of not knowing what will become of my family or the millions of hard-working immigrants in our country after he takes office.
What I do know for sure is that I love America, this is my country and this is my home.
I reject the notion that we have succumbed to a place of no return. I have faith and ardently hope that the leaders in office will hear the cries of the people and fears of children who are the future of America, and find it in their hearts to do the right thing.