Leading immigrant and labor rights organizations have banded together for a national day of action on Saturday to tell President-elect Trump that immigrants are #HereToStay, kicking off a week of activities in support of immigrant, undocumented, and refugee communities.
CASA, Center for Community Change, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), United We Dream, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will gather at Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan AME Church “to speak out against xenophobic and unrealistic proposals put forth by President-elect Donald Trump targeting immigrants and refugees,” according to a press release for the event.
Moving into Inauguration Day, affected communities have expressed fear of the incoming administration and the ways in which Trump and his anti-immigrant allies will target the nation’s vulnerable populations. Some of the most pressing concerns, advocates told Rewire, are related to mass deportations and Trump’s proposal to eliminate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), President Obama’s executive action that offers some migrants who arrived in the United States as children work permits and temporary relief from deportation.
Mass deportations could have catastrophic effects on the U.S. economy. The American Action Forum, which describes itself as a center-right policy institute, released a report in May charging that worker decline in the wake of mass immigrant deportation “would reduce private industry output by between $381.5 billion and $623.2 billion.”
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The construction, agricultural, hospitality, and leisure industries would be hardest hit, according to the report. More than 12 percent of the country’s construction workforce is composed of undocumented immigrant workers, for example.
Removing all immigrants without legal documentation could cost the federal government up to $600 billion.
DACA benefits young people like #HereToStay participant Claudia Quiñonez, a 22-year-old University of Maryland student who arrived in the United States from Bolivia in 2006. Getting to college was challenging, she told Rewire in an email. Her immigration status in high school hindered her from receiving much-needed scholarships. One school, she said, wrote her an apologetic letter explaining that she was the top candidate, but the school could not give her the scholarship because she was undocumented.
Discouraged, Quiñonez made peace with taking time off after high school “to figure things out.” Two months prior to graduating from high school, she was granted DACA.
“The first thing I did when I got my work permit was to go community college. Now, after having DACA for almost four years, I am a senior in college, I have been able to get my driver’s license, buy my first vehicle, and work as a community organizer,” Quiñonez said.
Quiñonez could lose everything if Trump dismantles DACA. As the only person in her family with any form of status that enables her to legally work, she has become the head of the household.
“If I lose DACA, I would lose my job and I wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for college,” she said.
The situation faced by CASA member Karen Fiallos is just as dire. Fiallos is a single, undocumented mother from Honduras who immigrated to the Unites States ten years ago, fleeing violence. Fiallos’ daughter, Katherine, is an American citizen, and the #HereToStay participant’s biggest fear could be realized in the coming months: being deported and separated from her daughter.
Fiallos is on Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE) radar. There was a 2011 ICE raid at the home where she and her sister stayed. Though ICE wasn’t looking for Fiallos or her sister, the federal immigration agency deported her sister. Ever since, Fiallos has had to do monthly check-ins with ICE. Her next is scheduled for June 21 and she believes that may be the day she’s told she’s going to be deported.
Despite this looming fear, Fiallos will attend Saturday’s march with her 10-year-old daughter.
“It’s important to participate because we need to come together as one community. We cannot lose the momentum and the hope for all we’ve been fighting for. We can’t lose sight of what we’ve accomplished,” Fiallos told Rewire in a phone interview with the help of an interpreter.
Fiallos said her daughter is aware of what might happen under the Trump administration. She has lived with uncertainty and fear that she could lose her mother to deportation since she was a small child.
“It’s important that other youth come to these actions to show them that it’s not just one person that’s affected in a family or a community; everyone in the family and the community is affected,” Fiallos said. “The immigrant community is a hard-working community. I know I contribute to this country, and I’m going to keep fighting because this is the country where my daughter and I have a future. “