Im­mi­grants in U.S. il­le­gally see elec­tion as cru­cial

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Deepti Ha­jela

There was never any doubt Juana Al­varez’s 18- and 20-year-old Amer­i­can-born daugh­ters would be tak­ing part in the elec­tion this year. Al­varez did her best to see to that.

“I had two peo­ple I wanted to get reg­is­tered and I reg­is­tered them,” Al­varez, a 39-year-old house­keeper in Brooklyn who came to the U.S. from Mex­ico as a teenager, said through a trans­la­tor.

For Al­varez and the es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion other im­mi­grants liv­ing il­le­gally in the U.S., this is a po­ten­tially cru­cial elec­tion, with Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump talk­ing about mass de­por­ta­tions and a bor­der wall and Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton pledg­ing to sup­port im­mi­gra­tion re­form and pro­tect Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive ac­tions on be­half of im­mi­grants.

Come Elec­tion Day, these im­mi­grants will be watch­ing from the side­lines, their fu­ture in the hands of oth­ers. Un­der the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, only full cit­i­zens can vote; le­gal im­mi­grants who are green card hold­ers also are not al­lowed to cast a bal­lot.

Trump has spo­ken of fears of elec­tion fraud or that im­mi­grants liv­ing il­le­gally in the coun­try might vote. More broadly, he has said all im­mi­grants should play by the le­gal rules.

Al­varez and oth­ers like her say although they can’t vote, they have been tak­ing part in get-out-the-vote ef­forts among cit­i­zens.

In places like New York, Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Vir­ginia, they have been knock­ing on doors and mak­ing tele­phone calls, reg­is­ter­ing peo­ple, urg­ing them to go to the polls, and telling their sto­ries in hopes of per­suad­ing vot­ers to keep the in­ter­ests of im­mi­grants in mind when they go into the booth.

“For me, it’s im­por­tant that those who can vote come out of the shad­ows and make their voices heard,” Al­varez said.

Is­abel Me­d­ina, a 43-yearold from Los An­ge­les who has been in the coun­try il­le­gally for 20 years and has three sons, two born in the U.S., has worked phone banks and taken part in voter regis­tra­tion drives for U.S. cit­i­zens, mak­ing sure that “even though they’re frus­trated, they are dis­ap­pointed, they still re­al­ize it is re­ally im­por­tant, that they know the power that they have in their hands.”

KATHY WILLENS — AP PHOTO

In this Wed­nes­day, Oct. 26, 2016 photo, Juana Al­varez, 39, an un­doc­u­mented Mex­i­can house­keeper and im­mi­grant rights com­mu­nity ac­tivist, talks about the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion at the Make the Road New York’s Brooklyn of­fices in New York.

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