Politics 05-11-2018

US Elections: Despite not being able to vote, "dreamers" campaign door to door

Young people who came to the United States as children when their parents emigrated are mostly undocumented. But they still move.

"That we can not vote does not mean we can not win," says Ibrahim Pinzón, a young "dreamer" in the United States who, despite not having the right to suffrage in the elections on Tuesday because he is undocumented, tries to mobilize the electorate.

Like him, many "dreamers", as the young people who came to the United States as children when their parents emigrated, are encouraged to vote for Democratic candidates in mid-term elections that are announced as hard-fought and in which the issue of immigration has been at the center of the debate.

Despite the rain, Ibrahim Pinzón, an 18-year-old university student and three other young people from the United We Dream association, travel 81 km from Washington, a progressive district, to Frederick, in the state of Maryland, where every vote counts and many Republicans argue. Racist discourses.

"Although we can not vote, that does not mean that we can not encourage others to take what we believe is the right decision (...) to welcome diversity," says Ibrahim, who arrived in the United States when he had a year with his parents, originally from the Mexican state of Guerrero.

Dressed in an orange shirt that says "Without Fear of deportation" and armed with an application with the electoral roll, Alejandra Coreas, 22, enters a neighborhood of middle class houses where the grass is cut to the millimeter and the neighbors open the door reluctantly.

"We are here doing door to door for the change," says this young woman who arrived in the United States from El Salvador at age 5.

Alejandra tells that she never talked to her parents about her immigration status, but as she grew up she realized that there were things that the rest could do and she could not. There he fell into depression and his academic performance dropped.

Both young people, like other 700,000 undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children, are temporarily covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), created by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and which protects them from being deported.

For Alejandra, obtaining the DACA status allowed her to improve her self-esteem, but she knows that she has fewer opportunities than the people she grew up with and her status is precarious, since President Donald Trump decided to end the program and now her continuation depends on a court in California.

However, Alejandra recognizes that in other parts of the country the "dreamers" have it even harder. "There are places like Texas or Arizona that are very conservative and racist and being undocumented in those states means living constantly with fear," he says.

Being undocumented implies "being trapped in the shadows, accepting jobs in which one can be mistreated, jobs for the minimum wage, being exploited," he explains.

In Maryland, these young people have little expectation that the current Republican governor, Larry Hoggan, will lose, but if they hope that Sheriff Chuck Jenkins will not hold office again.

"We go door-to-door, asking registered voters to vote in these midterm elections, here in Frederick County we have a very racist sheriff who we are trying to get out of office," says Alejandra, referring to Jenkins, who has sustained a policy of zero tolerance with illegal immigration.

The electoral campaign, which has been proposed as a referendum on the Trump administration , has been marked by the issue of immigration.

The president has denounced in recent weeks that the caravan that left Honduras for the United States is an "invasion" and threatened to close the border with Mexico.

"It's disheartening to see all those people and then see the president in the news saying that if they throw stones they will respond to shots, knowing that there are children in the caravan," Alejandra said of the statements made this week by Trump, which later retracted.

For Ibrahim, people with the right to vote must know that they have tremendous power.

"I've seen the registration process, it's not going to take hours, it really takes a relatively short time to be something that is so powerful," he concludes.

The 435 seats in the House of Representatives, one third of the Senate, 36 counts of governors and many local authorities are at stake in Tuesday's elections.

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