When you vote for Trump…

Do you know what it’s like to be called “an illegal”? It’s knowing that there is a missing noun after illegal because you actually know the language well, but also knowing that the government official will not correct himself. He will place a period after illegal. He will move on. Because it’s what I am: an illegal. Unworthy of nouns or pronouns.

Do you know how it felt to get my driver’s license at 22? It felt like freedom. Like I could drive for hundreds of miles now, just set myself free and go from Georgia to Washington State to Maine. I could apply for a job outside the MARTA public transportation line. I could show my license, not my passport, when I bought a wine at the grocery store. I could show an ID and get on a plane and travel within the confines of this country. I’ve traveled every year since then. 


Do you know what it’s like to watch the Republican Primaries debates? It’s hearing that you’re the blame for the economy. For welfare. For crime. But also hearing that you have no say, no space set aside for you. Decisions will be made regarding you. And the biggest decision of all is that you will be kicked out. It’s hearing all of that and knowing you don’t have a vote. And you can’t choose who will make these decisions for you. 

Do you know what it’s like to be afraid the police officer has some kind of vendetta against all Latinos and will put you in jail for having a broken tail-light and you can’t fight back?

Do you know what it’s like to not see your family for 19 years? A family that’s loving and warm and kind…. to lose all of your grandparents and not remember what they really looked like but still crying over what you’ll never have? And then knowing more people will die before you get to hold them?

A big guy like Trump, who likes to look tough and strong, he’d make the easiest first anti-immigrant decision he can think of when he gets into office: Undo President Obama’s executive action. The one that lets me work and drive in this country. The one that requires I renew every 2 years for $500. I wouldn’t be able to renew. 

But that’s the best possible outcome. 

The worst? He’d tap into all our information sent to the USCIS when we applied and renewed and he’d find us to send us back. 

All this other stuff? The laws, the Supreme Court appointment stuff: that requires Congress. And we know a united Congress can stop a president from doing many things. But executive actions? That just takes the president’s signature. 

Donald Trump, in one of his many ramblings, asked, “What do you have to lose?”

Maybe you don’t have much to lose, voter. But me? I have too much to lose. And yet I can’t vote. 

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On Voting

Did you guys hear Donald Trump’s speech on immigration? He gave it right after his random trip to Mexico. It was very scary. He talked about dangerous immigrant aliens roaming neighborhoods, committing crimes that are so heinous they’re unimaginable. It was over an hour of just really scary, really inflammatory words. You could hear his audience’s reactions. I think Donald is fueled by their reactions. So his speeches get more and more alarming the more his crowds respond with cheers and yelling and chanting.

“Day one, my first hour in office, those people are gone.”

This week, I am starting to realize people don’t vote. More specifically, I’m realizing people my age don’t vote. People who can easily talk about how toxic Donald’s campaign has been for this country, who would never want him as president—they actually didn’t vote in the primaries (Donald won in Ga) and aren’t registered to vote in November.

I really can’t understand that. It’s very hard for me mainly because I can’t vote. Also because I will directly be impacted by whoever becomes president just like I was directly impacted by President Obama who signed DACA into existence.

But I also think there needs to be some sort of responsibility that American citizens should feel. Especially if you’re a woman. Especially if you are Black. But even if you’re White, there are people who fought at some point for you to be able to vote. There are people who thought this was really important. That having the ability to cast one vote actually reflected your wholeness as a human being and citizen. To be counted meant you are there, you are heard.

And here we are now. And there are people who are terrified of a potential Donald presidency, with all this talk of stop and frisk, and deportations, and banning muslims and refugees. But some can’t vote. Or people know that one vote won’t change anything. But what if all my friends voted? What if people who care about these issues actually came together and changed a state’s affiliation? It’s happened before. And this time around, it can happen again. (Ga is actually being considered a purple state right now as Hillary is running closer to Donald than Obama did to Romney in 2012.)

So, you guys, if you know me. If you care. Please. Please vote. It’s not only a right. It’s a responsibility.

P.S. People who think that non-citizens are going to try to vote need to sit down and do some deep-common-sense-thinking. Why would an undocumented person or someone who’s here with a temporary visa go into a govt run event and expose themselves in any way? Why draw attention to ourselves? Why risk our whole livelihood?? For one vote? Do you think we are that stupid or that patriotic? I’m very confused by this logic.

 

My Dentist Visit

The TV in the small room was on mute, showing me CNN anchors interviewing congressmen on the current Democratic Convention. I sat down on the chair and leaned my head back, ready for an hour of lying there with my mouth open. My dental hygienist (whose name will be changed throughout this piece due to my not knowing her name) took my retainers to the back to be cleaned as I watched the newscast.

“Are you tired of all this politics crap? You want me to change the channel?” Diane, the hygienist, asks, her voice chippy as usual.

“I’m actually kind of a politics nerd. So just leave it.” I smile at her.

“Oh! Well, usually the patients ask for me to change the channel because everyone is over the politics.”

I nod and there’s silence.

“So what made you become a political nerd?” (You need to imagine her voice…it’s like your friend’s mom’s voice when you’re visiting, constantly offering lemonade.)

“Well, I’m an immigrant,” I tell her, “And when you’re an immigrant, you’re always a hot topic. So you gotta choose: either you tune in or you avoid it. I choose to tune in.”

“Ah yes,” Karen (the same hygienist) sticks both hands in my mouth, “I’m totally fine with immigrants. That’s my viewpoint. As long as they’re being productive in society.”

The scraping digs at my gums and pulls up from my bottom teeth.

“I mean, it’d be like an American going to another country and just not doing anything. I don’t agree with that.”

You see, I tend to speak up when something like this is said to me. If you’re someone’s grandma, you’d probably call me “mouthy.” I call it “outspoken.” But in that moment I couldn’t respond because she had a sharp object poking at and scraping my teeth.

But here is what stopped short of my mouth:

The idea that any immigrant would leave their family and livelihood to go to another country to “not do anything” is in itself ridiculous. So I agree, though I have yet to meet an immigrant like that. 

I would’ve followed it with a joke or a smile because my mom taught me to be amicable.

I already have a problem with people avoiding politics. It leads people to believe Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are two sides to the same coin. Someone who believes that is not worried a Trump presidency would directly affect them. That person is probably not of color given that Donald has bad-mouthed immigrants, Muslims, and his candidacy has inspired David Duke to run for office. That person worries about theories and the idea that both candidates are equal symbols of depravity or lawlessness or whatever. They don’t think about how Donald would do away with Obama’s executive action like DACA, and Hillary wouldn’t. Or about how he has promoted violence toward minorities in his rallies, and she hasn’t.

Avoiding politics also made them not watch the RNC and witness how horrific those speeches were. I was hoping the Republican Convention would be enough to scare people back to their senses, but what good did it do if people weren’t watching?

But my biggest problem with Sharon, the hygienist, was that she would think something so ridiculous about a reasonable human being. When she thinks of immigrants, she considers them to be so different from her that they would do something so nonsensical that she herself would never consider doing. Vivian herself wouldn’t move to another country to do nothing. But these immigrants….well, they do.

I think it’s the lack of exposure. Lori looks around herself and thinks she sees no immigrants, either because she is actually not around them or she thinks immigrant is such a negative word that she wouldn’t associate her friends and coworkers with it.

So if there are no immigrants around her and if we continue being misrepresented and underrepresented in the media, causing people like Tina to not literally see us, then obviously we’re sitting around at home not doing anything. (And randomly going to the dentist, apparently.)