Editor’s note: We now bring you “Deport This!” an expanded weekly immigration column in partnership with Orange County Immigrant Youth United and Chispa, two local activist groups fighting to abolish ICE–and much more. Every week, they’ll bring us their intersectional views on immigration news both local and national—enjoy!
By Jessica Bravo, (Guest columnist)
Dear Dana Rohrabacher,
Let me remind you of who I am. Back in 2013, we met in your D.C. office. As a Costa Mesa resident, I scheduled a meeting with you to share my story of being an undocumented person living in the United States in order to stress the need for immigration legislation that brings folks out from the shadows. This was my first encounter with you and it proved to be a very traumatizing one, I must say.
I attended a national training in Washington D.C. with the PICO National Network (now known as Faith in Action), to launch the Campaign for Citizenship. We urged legislators to introduce an immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. I was thrilled, determined and optimistic to begin our efforts as this was my first national campaign and legislative visit in D.C.
I expected a civil dialogue from you. Instead, I got insults.
Less than 10 minutes into our hostile meeting, you told me that you were elected to represent “legal citizens,” not “illegals” like myself. Well, let me tell you something. I may not be able to vote but the power of my story moves voters and will continue to do so until we abolish ICE, embrace our immigrant community and pass legislation that values the dignity our immigrant community deserves.
Our stories are powerful, they allow us to share experiences and empathize with each other. One of the most basic human interactions proved to be beyond your capacity.
My family and I came to the United States over 20 years ago. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but a necessary one. There was no legal pathway for us to come. Being undocumented is a hardship and a choice no one makes simply because the rules are too difficult to follow.
This current Trump era is one of living in constant anxiety as to what may happen. It means planning for an uncertain future. We are not pawns to be used for political gains. You may not have cared to represent me but here I am. And I will continue to use my voice to challenge those in power who believe they can disregard our existence because of our status.
So Mr. Rohrabacher, I hope you enjoy your retirement to come after last week’s elections.
I say to you one last time that I am a human worthy of being in this country regardless of what you think of me. I will no longer fight to justify my existence but rather fight the injustices that exist. I may not be able to cast my vote at the polls, but many in my community who stand with me at the front lines and can vote–and did!
Now, it’s time to occupy those very same seats that are held by anti-immigrants like you.
This is for all those who had their doubts in voting but did it anyway. This is for those who knocked doors and made calls encouraging voters to show up at the polls.
Imagine what unseating all the Rohrabachers in congress would look like! We’ll have another chance in 2020. The work doesn’t end with elections but they do provide an opportunity to hold our representatives accountable. Let them know “que aquí estamos y no nos vamos.”
The same can’t be said of you, Mr. Rohrabacher, with regards to your comfortable seat in Congress for these past 30 years.