Making a Difference – An Easy Way

Editor’s note: Governance Committee member and IEB CA-11 team co-lead Ted Lam wrote about text banking for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. If you’re interested in text banking with IEB – and after reading Ted’s account we hope you will be! – please see our Events page.

I saw Indivisible National’s Facebook request for text banking volunteers starting the weekend of October 28 through early November for the Virginia House of Delegates’ election. I couldn’t help myself due to my soft spot for Virginia, so I signed up for a 2-hour window on the first day.  As a Coast Guard Officer I spent a lot of my time in the late 90s and early 2000’s in Northern Virginia and the Tidewater region (Yorktown, Portsmouth, Williamsburg). I love the area.

Indivisible emailed me a link to a Zoom training by Michele from Indivisible Virginia. I couldn’t get on the video conference but the followup email had a recording of it, which worked perfectly. Michele’s training was excellent.

On the scheduled day, I was ready for my 10 AM to 12 PM slot. Although I was at a 5-hour seminar at downtown Oakland’s Preservation Park for my union’s delegate assembly, I was able to sneak away to a breakout room at 9:50 to start text banking. Indivisible used Relay, a web-based system which connects to your phone and laptop/iPad. It was simple. I think Relay and the pre-loading of information that it uses may be what Indivisible National has been buying with some of the money it solicited for “tools.”

I had a list of 40 people in my conversation queue with pre-loaded text messages saying I was a volunteer from Indivisible Virginia. I sent out the 40 texts and walked back to my meeting. The recipients get a local number for you, not your phone number. I had 10 responses back: most were re-commitments to vote Democratic and a few were “hell no, I’m Republican.” I heartily thanked the former and just thanked the latter for their time. I texted the responses sitting in the back row of the large meeting room, and don’t think anyone even noticed.

The whole experience could not have been simpler or more satisfying. I felt I was doing something concrete, and it helped that I have a strong connection to Virginia. Overall, I probably only “worked” 30 minutes in the two-hour shift. I could have been doing it at a pub with a pint.

If you’re looking for an easy action with big impact, this is it.

– By Ted Lam

Make Peace, Not War

Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in 2001 in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. Since then, thousands of American troops have been killed and injured and hundreds of thousands of civilian lives lost in the Middle East. It took an ambush in Niger (and fumbled condolence phone call) to get Congress to schedule a hearing on the 60-words long authorization that has enabled presidents to launch more than 37 military campaigns in the past sixteen years.

But a Congressional hearing doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods; hawks want to expand the scope of the authorization and if they prevail, it’s round infinity in the dead end war on terror. We must all demand a repeal of this blank check for the President, and Congress has to do its job. Hiding behind 4-star generals was not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind when they wrote that Congress had the power

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

With a dangerously out-of-touch and unstable Commander in Chief, we can not continue to be complicit when even those charged with oversight can’t keep track of where our military is deployed, let alone explain why!

For 16 YEARS our own Representative Barbara Lee has fearlessly pushed to revisit this dangerously overbroad war authorization. Let’s give her our full support and demand a full repeal.

Please call Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives DeSaulnier and Swalwell, and say:

My name is _____, I’m a constituent from [zip code], and a member of  Indivisible East Bay. I’m calling to ask [ ] to support a full repeal of the Authorization of Military Force passed by Congress after 9/11. The 16 year old AUMF is a blank check to wage war. Giving this President such latitude is a risk to national and global security. His disregard for our military service-members and their families (evidenced by his reaction to the ambush in Niger), civilians caught in the crossfire, and provocative statements to other foreign powers show that he is incapable of the responsibility of leading a nation at war.  Please call for repeal of 2001 AUMF.

CA-15 Makes Community Connections

By Ward Kanowsky, co-lead of the IEB CA-15 Team

Our team has been busy connecting with folks in CA-15. Recently, I attended the general membership meeting of Livermore Indivisible, held at the Livermore Public Library. Their organization is structured by focus groups (health care, education, environment, etc.) and each group has a report out–about 20 people were in attendance. I spoke to Linda Guthrie, who ran the meeting, introduced myself as a co-lead for the Swalwell team from IEB, and discussed coordinating communications with Representative Swalwell and his staff between our two organizations. Going forward, I’ll communicate with Livermore Indivisible on communications with Swalwell’s office. Their group has engaged with his staff before, but not on a regular basis. By partnering we hope to coordinate our efforts and messaging.

LeAnn (CA-15 co-lead) and I met over the weekend with fellow IEB members Corrine and Hank Hansen to discuss voter registration. Corrine and Hank are members of the League of Women Voters and we discussed the LWV program “Empowering the Voters of Tomorrow,” designed to engage young people, and particularly Latinos in registering to vote. Corrine provided us with educational materials about voter registration challenges in California, and a descriptive packet on the LWV program in particular. We’re in the process of going through these materials, and we’ll continue to stay in touch and work with Corrine and Hank. The LWV program provides a step-by-step “how to” process for getting young people not only registered, but also getting them to vote, so if you’re interested in getting involved in this particular area, please send me an email.

Rep Mark DeSaulnier Town Hall, October 2017

Representative Mark DeSaulnier held his 50th Town Hall on October 16, 2017. The meeting, held in Walnut Creek before a standing room-only crowd, was also live-streamed on DeSaulnier’s Facebook page. California’s District 11 representative was his typical self: a policy wonk, solid on his facts and figures, willing to work with the audience without backing away even from those who were angry with him.Rep Mark DeSaulnier 50th Town HallDeSaulnier gave an overview and talked about the fires up north and environmental concerns. He spoke quite a bit about opioid addiction issues and the recent 60 Minutes/Washington Post report on Congress’s role in preventing the DEA from prosecuting drug companies suspected of a major role in this disaster.

DeSaulnier also talked about how we in California have managed to be great in terms of innovation, growth, and embracing new technology and environmental protection. Some of his main points: China and other countries are now embracing much of what we’ve been doing — including plans to stop producing internal combustion engines — but the U.S. as a whole is becoming an outlier by failing to look to the future. California will continue to be a leader; but in the Bay Area we have to address issues of affordable housing and transportation and their roles in our ability to attract the best people to come here and stay.

Other issues included:

  • Fielding a tough question on immigration, DeSaulnier responded that immigrants contribute more economically than they “take” from the government. An audience member didn’t like that answer, so he asked staff to set up a one-on-one for him and the audience member to review each other’s facts.
  • DeSaulnier said that he does not support term limits: he feels that term limits get rid of both good and bad people and overall reduce the strength of your “bench.” It’s better, he said, if elections are transparent and everyone votes.
  • There was a question on BART and its service. DeSaulnier reiterated his support for labor, and sweated out the recent bond measure to upgrade BART infrastructure.
  • Someone asked about the recent Muslim ban, and DeSaulnier said that Congress is looking at studies on how other countries have dealt with religious intolerance. He mentioned that our founding fathers came to this country to escape religious intolerance, and said that the views of Steve Bannon and his ilk are not a part of our country.
  • To a question about the planned Republican tax cuts, DeSaulnier stated strong opposition, especially the FY18 budget passed by the House. He favors a more progressive tax system.
  • He is concerned about election protection and Russian interference and hacking in our elections. He reflected that if 63 million people had voted in 2016 the result could have been different – although, he said, you respect the votes of the other side.

Couldn’t make it to the Town Hall? You can see DeSaulnier’s PowerPoint presentation here.

IEB Text Banks with Rapid Resist

In the first week of October, IEB members held a text bank at Drake’s Dealership in Oakland and enjoyed pizza, beer, and each other’s company! We teamed up with Oakland-based Rapid Resist, the “immune system for the resistance,” to text voters in Oceanside, CA, and Tuscon, AZ, asking them to call on their members of Congress to resist Trump’s tax cuts by voting NO on the house budget resolution. We also texted voters in Modesto to inform them about Tony Madrigal’s campaign for Modesto City Council, District 2.

The eight-month-old Rapid Resist was created in order to leverage blue state energy to support resistance work across the nation and utilizes a peer-to-peer texting system to recruit for big events. Rapid Resist focuses on lawmakers who may be a key swing vote, have moderate constituencies, are committee chairpeople, and/or who are vocal critics of the Trump agenda. Rapid Resist utilizes the texting app Hustle, which keeps the phone numbers of all involved parties private.

Those who were already familiar with Rapid Resist and Hustle got right down to business, while folks new to these platforms received direct training and support from Nick Travaglini of IEB’s Governance Committee. Rapid Resist’s founder, Yoni Landau, also joined the event and provided technical support and encouragement.

We’ll be gathering for more text banks at rotating locations around the East Bay every first Tuesday of the month (barring holidays). Join us on November 7! Time and location TBD.

Two State Directors in Two Days

It was quite a week at the beginning of October 2017 – we met back to back with the state directors for Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

We didn’t plan on having our first meeting with Sen. Harris’ state director, Julie Rodriguez, the evening before our umpteenth meeting with Sen. Feinstein’s state director, Sean Elsbernd. (Julie is based in LA, so we normally meet with with Daniel Chen, the head of the senator’s SF Office. But Julie has agreed to another meeting the next time she’s in  town.)

But two in a row worked out well, since there are a lot of things we wanted to impress on both senators: from reminding them of the urgency of passing the DREAM Act, to expressing disappointment that they both voted in favor of a huge national defense authorization bill last week, to some specific asks on long-term help for Puerto Rico as part of a hurricane relief package.

We heard a few more details about Sen. Feinstein’s hesitations around endorsing Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All — mainly about implementation and some remaining fuzzy details on the funding side. But Sean tells us that it’s the feedback from us that has moved her from off the cuff comments about “complete government takeover of health care” to asking her staff to take a close look at Sen. Sanders’ bill.

We also heard a few more details about Sen. Harris’ next steps in her push for Medicare for All. Julie says she will take the lead from Sen. Sanders, but that with a minority in Congress, the important thing to focus on is building grassroots support for single payer health care.

We shared our concerns about oversight of the Homeland Security Department, specifically ICE, and learned about some of the individual cases involving detention centers that each of our senators’ constituent services departments have worked on. In fact, Sean told us, a couple of years ago when ICE detention facilities were overcrowded due to the Central American refugee crisis (including many unaccompanied children), Sen. Feinstein had her staff visit every facility in California to compile a report and recommend changes to President Obama.

We spoke with Sean at length about Trump’s judicial nominations being fast-tracked through the Senate Judiciary Committee, on which Sen. Feinstein is the lead Democrat. He told us she’s fighting hard to preserve the “blue slip” process, which gives every senator a say about judges appointed to the federal courts within their state. We asked Sen. Harris to make a statement in support of the senators who have withheld blue slips on dangerous federal court nominees in Oregon and Minnesota.

California’s Primary Moved to March – Now What?

Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law the “Prime Time Primary Act,” a bill that moves California’s primary from June to March, beginning in 2020.

Although California is a heavy hitter in terms of money to be raised and electoral votes to be won, a June primary means that we have had pretty much no say in choosing the parties’ nominees: “By the June California primary elections in 2016, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were already their parties’ presumptive nominees,” as NPR put it.

But will the change be a mixed blessing?

On the pro side: California will weigh in earlier in the primaries and make a difference.

On the con side: California is a big-deal media state, so any candidate must be able to pay for TV ads in the primaries in order to gain attention. In other words: The earlier primary favors candidates who are established and who have hit up big donors. A trailing but worthy candidate, particularly one without big bucks or wealthy connections, may fall by the wayside. That may leave us, by default, with candidates we wouldn’t necessarily favor.

And the joker: Some candidates don’t need to pay for ads to get in the public’s eye. Trump spent little on ads in the primaries, but got tons of free coverage for his daily road show. Come to think of it, we don’t want any more candidates like that either …

So where does the earlier primary leave us? Good or bad for California? Good or bad for progressive politics and for future races? It’s an open question for now.

Gun Bills in the Spotlight

After the deadly events that played out in Las Vegas, two controversial pro-gun bills moving through the House this fall are in the spotlight.

The first is the SHARE Act (Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act). Backed by the NRA, the 144 page bill covers a lot of ground.

Aiming to open current restrictions on hunting/shooting on public lands, the bill would reverse the ban on lead tackle and ammunition, allow bird shooting over unharvested crops, and end endangered species protection for Great Lake grey wolves and purchase of new bird habitats. Controversial components of the bill also involve bans on silencers and armor-piercing bullets.

A silencer muffles the noise of a gun once it’s shot. Currently, to obtain one you have to submit fingerprints, a photo and submit to a waiting period of 9 months or more. This waiting period is similar to the one required when you buy a machine guns or explosives. Plus, law enforcement keeps track of the purchase. And, there’s a $200 transfer tax.  The Hearing Protection Act would abolish all these restrictions.

Those who support silencers say they protect hunter’s hearing from damage by muffling gunfire – not actually silencing it.

“It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County).

Those against it say it makes it harder for law enforcement and bystanders to hear and avoid active gunfire.

“What it does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” said Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) who is also a hunter. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”

Another sticky issue: the bill proposes legalizing the sale of armor-piercing bullets if the manufacturer labels the ammunition as intended for “sporting purposes.”

Although Democrats have reported they expected a vote on the legislation this week,  Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that the bill is not scheduled and he does not know when it’s going to be scheduled. The bill was previously delayed this summer when a shooter open fired on a congressional baseball game injuring House Majority Whip Steve Scalia.

The other pro-gun measure moving through the House is called the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would allow concealed carry permit holders to take their weapons across state borders, as long as it is allowed in the state they live in. The NRA says that the act would “ensure that law-abiding citizens do not forfeit their ability to protect themselves as they travel from state to state.”

Counterarguments are that “you’d have a situation where somebody could come from Arizona, where there is no permit required at all to carry a gun, and that person’s Arizona residency would override California law and allow anybody with an Arizona driver’s license or resident card to carry a loaded gun in the state,” Peter Ambler, executive director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. This is clearly a concern to those of us in California, which has much stricter gun laws than our neighbors.

What can we do? What can our members of Congress do?

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi condemned the SHARE Act and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act after welcoming Rep. Scalise back to Congress.

She believes Republicans have enough votes to pass both bills, but Democrats can likely block them with a filibuster.

Our representatives in the East Bay have some of the lowest ratings from the NRA; you can thank them for their continued action to fight for our safety and for common sense. In particular, Senators Feinstein and Harris have just announced a bill that would close the loophole allowing modification of automatic weapons. And on October 4, the New York Times reported that Republican leaders may consider banning the kind of device that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to turn his rifles into weapons of mass destruction. Tell Senators Feinstein and Harris: “Thank you for your efforts at gun control. Please vote NO on the SHARE Act, and urge your colleagues to enact restrictions on devices that turn guns into automatic weapons. It isn’t too soon. We don’t need any more mass shootings!” 

Although these bills are seemingly tabled for the present moment, it does not mean the NRA and pro-gun law lobby is backing down.  They’ve been quoted as saying that right-to-carry remains a legislative priority as well as reforming law relating to suppressors.    

And it’s their pattern to go quiet after a violent event.

“Their plan is to avoid the media until the story passes and then figure out someone else to blame,” said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Here’s a great list of 7 things from Everytown to fight the SHARE Act & Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act to help pass common-sense gun laws.

 

Visit With Eric Swalwell’s District Director

On September 27, IEB’s CA-15 Team had the opportunity to meet with Tim Sbranti, Deputy Chief of Staff and District Director for Congressmember Eric Swalwell. This was our first meeting with a member of Swalwell’s staff; here’s what we talked about and the main takeaways from the discussion:

  • IEB’s objectives: to stop Trump’s agenda (a main principle of Indivisible)
  • We support Eric and want to provide positive reinforcement
  • We want our CA-15 team to engage with Swalwell and his staff:
    • Swalwell’s staff have also been in contact with Indivisible Livermore; Tim had recently attended one of their events. We will identify a contact person at Indivisible Livermore and coordinate our communications with them.
    • We’d like to have regular meetings with Swalwell’s staff and will contact Sammy Jo Rudy, Finance Assistant and Organizer, for this.
    • IEB plans to be a presence at Swalwell’s events (town halls, Congress on Your Corner, etc.)
    • We plan to continue to have specific “asks” – just because we like Swalwell doesn’t mean we’ll always like the bills he cosponsors; or there may be an issue where we need to increase his awareness.
  • We discussed what we as a team can do to provide support:
    • Near term – help with voter registration efforts. Tim suggested coordinating with the League of Women Voters (LWV) and the Alameda County Registrar
    • Longer term – flipping red districts in Southern California. Timeframe is June 2018 and potential actions include phone banks and a road trip by bus

Next steps – Please contact us if you’re able to help:

  • Coordinate with the LWV and Alameda County Registrar on voter registration actions
  • Identify specific “asks” we can present to Swalwell’s staff – these can include voting against something, cosponsoring a bill, making a public statement, etc. There’s one included in this communication on the next page that you can start on NOW!
  • Schedule a CA-15 team face-to-face meeting in October – we’ll be in touch about a date and location. If anyone has a suggestion for a location, please let us know.

Action Item:

The Supplemental National Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps and known as CalFresh in California, is under attack. Please call and email and ask him to vote NO on the related House Budget Resolution. Castro Valley: (510) 370-3322; DC: (202) 225-5065

My Dream Was to Go Straight to University – Part 2

DACA poster
Photograph by Ann Daniels

Last week we published the first part of an Indivisible East Bay member’s interview with Lara, a DACA recipient. Our last question was whether her parents felt they made the right decision in moving to the United States. Lara ended her response with: “When DACA passed and I was able to go back to school, that alleviated a lot of their guilt and they felt glad I finally had a real chance. But now with what Trump’s done, they regret it all over again and feel guilt all over again for putting me in this situation. I keep telling them, you cannot blame yourself for this.” We continue with Part 2:

How are your siblings handling it?

I think they’re used to me being the strong one. They don’t really ask how I’m doing. Out of my 4 siblings, only one asked me how I was doing after the news. They’re used to me not depending on them.  I’ve been so independent for so many years, they assume that I’m okay. They know I don’t allow myself to sit in the pity pool too long. But I know deep down inside, this time around they really are concerned because this administration is not playing; they are really on a mission to make peoples’ lives extremely complicated. Even though they haven’t expressed it, I know that they really are concerned for me this time.  I know them and this is their way of not discouraging me.

I think they’re more worried about how I might respond one day, with the wrong person. Not so much if I’m going to get deported, but, for example,  if I’m at an event representing Dreamers and someone says something that pushes me over the edge.

Are your siblings politically active?

No, they leave it to me. And it’s so unfair. I tell them, how is it the undocumented one is at the forefront of things? Their answer is “Because we don’t have to. We were born into this privilege.” They haven’t had to fight for anything, so they’re not really concerned.

So…they don’t have to fight for you?

Exactly! And so I said, what about me? “Eh, you’re good at fighting for yourself.” So I envy the families that are there for each other because my siblings live in their own world, chasing their own dreams. I’ve always been so independent, vocal, and active, I guess they’ve never cared to involve themselves because of that. Maybe they see how worked up and exhausted I get, and there’s no off button sometimes, maybe that turns them off. They see how consuming it can be.

But, it’s also because they’re just selfish and immature. I haven’t been home in over 10 years, so they haven’t been there to see me break down. I did it so they wouldn’t have to see how much I suffered. I didn’t want them to see me cry, so I purposefully moved out so they wouldn’t have to see how much I suffered. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do.

You found out about your status when you were in high school. After that, did you see you and your siblings differently?

We were so poor growing up and my dad worked two to three jobs for years. We don’t get Medicaid, food stamps, financial help of any kind, so you depend on your community, neighbors, church. We lived in a two bedroom apartment. Four of us in one room, my parents in the other, until we finally moved to our first house. It was a bad ugly house and my dad and his uncles fixed it up. My siblings all grew up in a house, but I remember living like sardines and dealing with cockroaches.

I’m happy they were able to have their own bed. I’m glad they didn’t have to deal with the cheap Payless shoes and getting bullied for having the same cheap clothes or backpack, and all the things growing up poor entails. But from the very beginning, I always knew we were going to have a very different life.

When I got older after high school, when I saw how hard it was going to be to even find a job, I said I have to get out of here because I don’t want them to see me like this. I was bitter and angry and I resented the situation. I didn’t want to infect them with my bitterness. I had always been the strong, positive, happy, bossy big sister and wanted them to keep that image of me and not the angry, resentful, bitter one. So I moved out. But when I have tried to share what it was like living on my own without them, I feel they don’t want to accept it  and instead, play it down.

When you see that people aren’t willing to hear your story for what it is or want to hear what you have to say, then you stop sharing. But, my parents know everything. I shared everything with them, especially the bad experiences with managers and customers who called me every terrible discriminatory name. That’s a bond that my siblings may resent a little bit because my parents understand my pain. I’m grateful that at least I have always had my parents patience, compassion and understanding.

What are your parents going to do?

For now, I think they are going to move to a smaller property. They came for the American dream and they want to leave us an inheritance. They worked very hard and want to leave us houses and properties just like White Americans. They came to break that stereotype and leave a legacy for their children. They won’t let this discourage them. They taught me to be strong. Like most people, they wanted to be more successful and prosperous than their parents. You always want to be more successful than the previous generation. They’re leaving the bar really high for us.

What do they think their lives would have been like if they stayed in Mexico?

I don’t know. My dad probably would have finished being an engineer. But there’s no way they would have been able to give us an education or the safety to do the things we’ve wanted, be involved in the things we’ve been involved in–music, dance, sports, etc. Most of our family is still there. I probably would have grown up knowing my grandparents — I’ve seen them a handful of times, but I don’t know either side. I have no relationship with them or my uncles, aunts, cousins.

How do you think your lives are different than your relatives in Mexico?

It’s black and white. I see pictures of the homes they live  in — dirt floors or cement floors. The quality of the houses, the sizes of the room, the clothes they wear, the diet they have — it’s what’s affordable. My parents are seen as more prosperous in comparison.

If we know anyone who is traveling there for the holidays, we always send stuff. Mostly clothes, shoes, school materials — binder paper, pencils, crayons, everything. Money every month to my grandparents to help. My grandparents were blue collar workers and farmers, so there’s little to no pension or retirement. Now that they’re older, we help take care of them and pay their bills. We send what we can. Had we stayed there … I don’t know. I don’t think my siblings would have been able to explore and experiment in the arts, music, and sports the way they have here. I wouldn’t have found a purpose or reason to become socially active at the capacity I have done. It’s safer here — over there, it can mean death a lot of the time if you get too loud or political. Here, at least I know I can be socially active and it won’t cost me my life. I don’t think I would be the person I am. I’d probably be like my cousins — at least we’re here together, at we have food, clothes, a bed. But being part of this country and raised with the idea that you can do better if you sacrifice more and work harder, I can never imagine myself being satisfied with just making it. You always hear about the American dream and reaching for new heights — I wouldn’t have this personality, I think. I wouldn’t be such a fighter, such a life hustler.

You don’t hear about the equivalent in Mexico, “The Mexican Dream.”

There isn’t. I guess the Mexican dream is, you have a little house you can leave for your kid, that you probably built yourself with your parents, siblings and cousins. But here, it’s so different. I’m so proud of my parents for the American dream they’ve accomplished. They have left such an amazing legacy and high standards for us. They came with a baby and a bag of clothes and they’ve accomplished so much, even with their limited legal status. They instilled a work ethic, and stressed that discipline and sacrifice is essential for anything you want. To be willing to always pay that price — so essential for any goal. That’s the Mexican Dream.

When they left, did they know people here?

Yes. They stayed with my mom’s sister for a few months until they had enough money to rent a room. When my mom got pregnant with my brother, we moved to a one bedroom apartment.

Was it common for other aunts and uncles to come to the US?

Yes, but only In the 80s. Just a few of us lived here. My parents are the only homeowners in our entire family. It required extra hard work, extra discipline that many families weren’t willing to do. My parents had a dream, so they agreed on what we were going to have to live without and were willing to do whatever it took. It’s interesting to see that now they’re the only ones among those who came over in the 80’s who are considered “successful”.  But so much of what Trump is doing against my community, it’s bringing back a lot of the same anxiety. We’re going to make it. We’ll figure it out as a family the way we always do.

How has your husband been handling it?

He is awesome. Fortunately my husband is a citizen. If both of us were undocumented, it would be double the stress and double the what-ifs. He’s very much like me — very optimistic, positive and he’s also a life hustler. Always finds a way to survive. We’ll find a way and we have faith that God will provide for us as a unit, to help my case and my situation. My husband lets me go through the motions and isn’t judgmental. He doesn’t pretend to understand what I’m feeling, because he’s never experienced my life. HIs patience with me is ridiculous and he’s the most empathetic person I know. He never claims to understand the struggle of being undocumented, though he’s learning what it’s like to be married to a strong undocumented woman!

When you socialize or when he talks to people, I guess he doesn’t talk about your status.

When he thinks of me, he thinks of me the person, so it doesn’t really come up. But folks invited us, for example, on a cruise and I had to explain to them why I couldn’t. We are very honest people and honesty gives opportunities for growth and knowledge. I see it as a way to share my story and help people be grateful for their privilege. There are privileges I have as an undocumented person that I take for granted all the time,  like being able-bodied. I don’t mind sharing my story when appropriate. It doesn’t come up as much now, as a couple. In my 20s, I could never order a beer or a glass of wine when I was out with my friends or on a date,  but now I have an ID. I never told anyone why until my late 20’s.

Being married has changed a lot about how (politically) active I am. It’s also made it easier to see the priorities. Maybe I should leave all of the rallying and protesting to the younger generation. I feel confident that I served my time. I did that already, in the early years.  It’s their turn to take the torch and keep fighting the good fight.

 

A huge thank you to Lara for sharing her story–this is not the last we’ll hear from her, to be sure. We’d love to hear your comments – you can leave them at this post, or email them to info@indivisibleeb.org