How Election Night Felt to One Woman Living Under ‘Mixed Status’ Immigration Program
By Cecilia Chavez / Silicon Valley De-BugCecilia Chavez never imagined that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States. Here she chronicles what election night looked and felt like to a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient, a mother, and a mixed-status family.
Election night was one of the longest and most stressful nights in my life. There was so much riding on the outcome of this election to me personally, that I just could not turn away from the TV because I needed to know what the future might be like for my husband and I, and the rest of our families. I am a DACA recipient – a measure enacted by the Obama administration – granting me temporary protection from deportation and a permit to work that is renewable every two years without a path to legalization. My family is of mixed immigration status, which means that whoever was chosen as our next president would determine whether my family will continue to be together or become separated. The uncertainty was too much that I felt knots in my stomach, even worse than when I was going into labor for the second time.
My husband hasn’t seen his parents in over eight years, and there is no ray of sunshine in the near future that this is going to change. The same is true for my dad who hasn’t seen his ailing mom in over 22 years. And I know their stories are like many other immigrant stories. We are immigrants not by our isolated choices but because of a sequence of decisions beyond our control that have forced us to take this journey.
I started watching the presidential election coverage at about 5 pm in the evening as soon as my husband got home from work, and I was so preoccupied with it that I didn’t even think of preparing dinner or showering my kids that night. I ended up giving them the easiest thing to prepare – a ham sandwich. While my husband and I watched the numbers roll in hour after hour, we initially made a couple of sarcastic jokes about moving to Canada hoping that the numbers would change in our favor.
It was well past our bedtime, but my husband and I were still up attempting to be hopeful and expecting the numbers to change and know that things were going to be OK with us. Our conversation turned serious when I saw the concerned look in his eyes. He is a man that is generally not bothered by politics or such things, but election night, I saw how worried he was and that fed into my own uncertainty.
Well past midnight, I sat alone in the living room watching the Trump acceptance speech with tears in my eyes. I just could not believe what I was witnessing and what this meant. My DACA was now in limbo, the chance of my family being deported became real, my kids’ citizenship status was now going to be in question. So many other thoughts crossed my mind as I listened to the crowd cheer him on.
I returned to the bedroom, laid in bed, and I believe I passed out because I don’t even remember getting up to feed my baby. It felt like such a blur of disbelief.
Upon waking up, I checked my phone just briefly to verify what I had lived through that night. I didn’t have the energy or will to go through social media and read what others where saying about the results. I still felt drained physically, emotionally, and morally.
We will have a president whose campaign created an outlet for hatred, bigotry, racism, and sexism to be acceptable standards by which to live. The harsh rhetoric used against immigrants and mass deportations motivated many to vote for him, and that’s what scares me the most.
I truly believed that we were going to make positive history with this election. There was no way in my mind that the Republican candidate was going to win because of his reputation and scandals. I believed that no one in their right mind would vote for a person with such obstructed views about humanity, especially after all the progress our current president made.
As a community organizer and a DACA recipient, I’m surprised at the level of support that he received. I must have been living in a bubble thinking that we were moving forward with our civil rights and that we were creating change in the way minorities are being treated. My future, among 11 million more, is now in limbo waiting to see what our next move is.
I’m trying to be hopeful and see beyond today. I want to believe that our new president is going to do right for all Americans, even those who don’t have the paperwork to prove it, but feel so in their heart and soul, just like myself. I know that America is great already because of who we are and the diversity within it. I’m hopeful that we all have the power to move in the right direction and that this election will do more than divide us.Wait, before you go…
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