Photo by Jackie Ramírez

We have been living in the tyranny of an administration that has deemed us unworthy and has called us “animals”. This administration has done everything in its power to undermine our resilience and past work including, but not limited to, the Muslim ban, and the public charge rule, which you can read about in this blog.

Despite these efforts, my community continues to galvanize, organize and work for our liberation. RAICES in Texas has highlighted the unjust treatment of children in cages with their #DontLookAway campaign, which has garnered attention across the nation and managed to get former Presidential Nominee, Julián Castro, to visit one of the sites where children were held in cages. In our state, the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance, along with other organizations, have pushed the Governor to end the ability for new private detention centers to be built in California.

Our power knows no bounds, eve during past administrations we have shown our resilience in coming together while noting that we were not going anywhere. The power of the undocumented community is especially evident in our backyards. Undocumented artists were a special highlight in December of 2017 at an art show in Boyle Heights where we chanted loudly and proudly that we were “Undocumented and Unafraid,” and they continue to provide laughter and joy during these times.

Just a few hours ago Bernie Sanders, who represented a lot of hope to POC and immigrant communities, announced that he would end his race for the Presidential nomination. The end of his campaign ended some dreams but fueled some into movement.

Alessandro Negrete

This election, as any other, is an important one. The current administration has gone as far as trying to push for an “immigration status question” on the Census. Though ultimately this question was not allowed on the decennial Census, it operates in the form of a fear tactic aimed at curbing participation in this important accountability process.

The Census informs various things including community block grants, which provide resources to communities by generating valuable data on community characteristics. This allows legislators to allocate public tax dollars to communities based on need. Our government has not done right by our undocumented people. It has turned its back on us time and time again. Even during these times we have been able to mobilize and ensure that we get our fair share of resources.

This is especially problematic because immigrants in 2017 alone contributed $405 billion in taxes. This money is taken from hard working undocumented immigrants of which we never see a percentage back.  Through these hardships, we as a community stay hopeful that we will be counted rightly and be provided the bare minimum. So much money from foundations goes into making sure we count so that we can continue to provide services from non profits and non governmental agencies, but what are we really doing to allow for undocumented communities to grow?

Again, the beauty and strength is in our ability to manifest our power. Immigrant and foreign born community members are more likely to start a business. We will continue to be innovators and pave the way for ourselves when our government continues to fall short in our needs.

Lastly, as if we needed further proof as to how we rise to the occasion of support for each other in 2020, we have a Global Pandemic. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has been impacting communities of color at a disproportionate rate. In California, which has the largest amount undocumented field workers, workers who feed the nation and are being deemed “essential”, are being offered little to NO protection or information.

There has been NO relief for these workers, but their spirit and resilience and hard-working ethic keeps them giving up. They continue to show up to be paid pennies, mistreated, risking exposure to themselves and their families.

Along with field workers, we have frontline workers in the food industry. Many of us have lost our jobs and wages, as have many Americans; yet, we do not have the privilege to collect unemployment. Through this pandemic, we have highlighted the inefficiency of our capitalist society. As essential as we are, these are the jobs Americans claim we are stealing. That they deem themselves too good to do.

It is our immigrant labor that has propelled this country into success providing a foundation that supports a stimulus packages that denies the import of the role we play in sustaining the American economy, particularly in this time of need. It will be our sweat, blood, and tears that will line the roads and streets because we will continue to show up to be mistreated and belittled because we have to provide for our families.

I write this to remind us of all we have accomplished, and of all we will continue to accomplish. Yes, we hoped the best for Bernie because he allowed us to believe in our future in this country. Senator Sanders made it possible for our movements to be visible in mainstream American society, but don’t think this is a praise for him. It is a praise for my community.

When Deferred Action was approved, many wanted to thank President Obama. I thank the hundreds of undocumented youth that took his offices, that took to the streets, and demanded that he support us. This article is to remind all of us that we are the backbone of this country and that we can continue to move and hold our elected officials to their words and, many times, empty promises.

Let’s continue to take up space – on podiums, streets, organizing. This is the moment we can ensure that they do right by us and our families. We are shaping national platforms during this pandemic. We are feeding this country, sustaining this economy through these hard times with our labor, tenacity and resilience. Lastly, we must advocate for ourselves and  those around us.  Lets get counted in this Census, and let’s continue to DEMAND our rights.

Alessandro Negrete is a Boyle Heights resident and a member of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

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