On Election Day 2016, I emerged from three intense weeks of sit-ins and protests across New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. The goal: to bring the families of workers taken in the largest workplace raid under Obama’s presidency into the electoral conversation.
The most piercing moment was witnessing Aida, the spouse of one of the 25 undocumented workers detained in Buffalo, lie to her children about the whereabouts of their father—who is still detained today.
With the #Buffalo25 campaign in the backdrop, Trump’s victory was, above all, a reminder of the ongoing injustices that immigrant families will face regardless of the administration.
Following the election, I got a barrage of e-mails and calls. They asked: Are you going to be deported? Will DACA be taken away?
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is an executive action signed by President Obama allowing certain undocumented youth to receive temporary protection from deportation and a work permit, with the ability to renew every two years as long as they remained in good standing. It was immediately applicable to more than 750,000 of around 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
When DACA was announced in June 2012, my life changed dramatically. DACA meant I could finally work and pay to attend Clark University. It meant I could study abroad in Shanghai. These opportunities arose after years of organizing by students and activists who were tired of living in a country where they could not pursue their dreams. When Trump was elected, it meant the real possibility that DACA would be taken away—as he had promised on the campaign trail.
I spent election night with other volunteer organizers with Movimiento Cosecha, a new, nonviolent, popular movement fighting for permanent protection, dignity, and respect for roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants. Following the election, our instinct was that the communities most under threat in the coming administration needed to feel that people would have their back. Inspired by high-school students in Phoenix and other cities who were organizing spontaneous walkouts, we set up a call for undocumented students and allies who wanted to send a message to the public that young people would not allow violence, racism, and deportations to become normalized under a Trump administration. Two days after election night, more than 80 students joined a call from schools across the country. Together, we organized a nationwide day of walkouts. A week later, on November 16, more than 100 college campuses hosted walkouts calling on their schools to become #SanctuaryCampuses.