Hispanic Caucus - Voices

Interview with DACA recipients Ernesto Hernandez and Jimena Castro

Author:  Monsy Hernandez

Monsy Hernandez spoke with two DACA recipients, Ernesto Hernandez and Jimena Castro, about how the DREAM Act impacted them and what they think everyone should know about immigrants in the United States.

DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy that provides the right to a renewable work permit for eligible immigrants who were brought into the United States as children without documentation. The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is the name for a process that would grant conditional residency, and potentially permanent residency, to eligible minors with an immigrant background. Many youths and students, mostly undocumented, who are covered by the protections it offers are called DREAMers.

How has DACA impacted you?

Ernesto: DACA has definitely impacted me in a positive way, I mean, previous to DACA, you know, like many other immigrants in this country we were hiding in the shadows for lack of better words, we were undocumented, we couldn’t find jobs or go to school, so when DACA came out it gave us a chance to come out of the shadows, participate in school programs. It helped me seek better paying jobs, and it's definitely helped me out over the last six years of being DACA-mented.

Jimena: DACA impacted me because it allowed me to get a driver’s license. We’re only allowed to have it yearly. From my understanding, United States citizens are allowed to have their driver’s licenses for over ten years. We’re only allowed to have it while our DACA is valid for two years, then we have to go through a renewal. It also allowed me to get a job legally. It gave me a social security number, a right-to-work permit, and it also allowed me to go to school. But every state has different provisions as to what they allow. SC puts a lot of restrictions on the people that go to school, which is why I go to school in Delaware. SC charges out-of-country tuition for DACA, so it’s very unaffordable. No FAFSA, no federal loans, so we’re basically on our own with that. It limits you in what you can be. They don’t allow people with DACA to become lawyers, and anything that requires you to get licensing exams that they would allow any United States citizen to take. I’m going to school to be a nurse, but I can’t take the exam that allows me to get licensed in South Carolina. DACA does allow you to go to school, you just have to find your way.

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Why do I vote - Onelica Andrade

Why do I vote?

There are many reasons why I vote. Because it is my duty and my right. Because I care about the country that welcomed me and my family, and I care about the influence it has on the rest of the world. And because it is the way I can express my preferences and concerns in a democracy.

Por qué voto?

Hay muchas razones por las que voto. Porque es mi deber y mi derecho. Porque me importa el país que me dio la bienvenida a mí y a mi familia, y también me importa la influencia que este tiene sobre el resto del mundo. Y porque es la manera en la que puedo expresar mis preferencias y preocupaciones en una democracia.

Why Do I Vote - Alfredo Jimeno Orrego

There is no shortage of studies supporting this: I’d have a better chance of winning the lottery than having my unique vote change the outcome of an election. Also, voting bears a cost. I could be doing anything else. Take the day off, or work for a wage.

Voting is an irrational act; so why would I vote?

Because my vote is not singular. In this effort, I am joined by my very caring fellow members of the Hispanic Caucus. Our members then join thousands of individuals whose votes Joe Biden’s remarkable National Latino Engagement Director, Laura Jimenez, has secured. From singular to plural.

The vote of our collective will change the outcome of this election. This is why I vote.

No faltan estudios que lo respalden: tendría una mejor oportunidad de ganar la lotería que hacer que mi voto único cambie el resultado de una elección. Además, votar tiene un costo. Podría estar haciendo cualquier otra cosa. Tómese el día libre o trabaje por un sueldo.

Votar es un acto irracional; Entonces, ¿por qué votaría?

Porque mi voto no es singular. En este esfuerzo, me acompañan mis compañeros del Caucus Hispano. Nuestros miembros se unen a miles de personas cuyos votos ha asegurado la notable National Latino Engagement Director de Joe Biden, Laura Jiménez. De singular a plural.

El voto de nuestro colectivo cambiará el resultado de esta elección. Por eso voto.


Why I Vote From Abroad

So you ask me why I vote.  Oh please, what a ridiculous question.  I have never NOT voted.  Since I turned 18, I have turned up at my local polling place, wherever it was (and now I vote from abroad: https://www.votefromabroad.org).

I am a first generation American.  My parents are from the Middle East, and they always set an example of going to the polls for every election.  I grew up in Chicago, and you might want to say, “Why bother?  Chicago is a totally Democratic city, and your vote won’t count.”  Oh, no?  Each time I left the voting booth, my chest filled with pride.

You see, my parents never got the opportunity to vote in their native countries.  Both are from countries with autocratic governments.  My mother, being a woman, never had the right to vote.

So, now ask me why do I vote?  And I say, DON’T ASK ME THAT RIDICULOUS QUESTION.  I vote because I have to, and I am damned proud of it.

Why I Vote From Abroad

I’m a proud Democrat who’s originally from San Francisco, California. Thirty-seven years ago, I married a Mexican citizen, which – like so many of our overseas members – began a chain of events which changed my life. We moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, had three dual-national children, and I became a permanent resident of Mexico. Living abroad has broadened my perspective of world politics and educated me on how other countries view the United States on various issues.

Once I joined Democrats Abroad, I found myself wanting more and more to have a voice in U.S. Elections. I became aware of the necessity for Mexican-American voters to have that same strong voice. Being involved in Democrats Abroad has allowed me to both be politically active on issues important to me and maintain my right as an American citizen to vote back in California.

Now more than ever, I strongly believe it’s necessary for all Americans living outside of the United States to contribute our collective voting voice, along with the millions of Americans within the U.S., to support and elect Democratic candidates who will strengthen our democracy and move our country forward. I vote from abroad because our country needs to dramatically strengthen diplomacy efforts in U.S. foreign policy, take action on combating the climate crisis, and reform our broken immigration system. I will vote in 2020 and encourage all other Americans abroad to request their ballot and send it back as well.

I will vote… Will you?

The day had come, July 4th, 2013. That day was my 18th birthday. Coincidentally, it was the very same day our nation turned 237 years old.

Most people my age wanted to become 18 to do other stuff… go to a bar and legally drink, drive a car, or buy a pack of cigarettes, but not me, I desperately wished to turn 18 to VOTE.

My interest in politics goes way back to the year 2000 when I was only 5 years old. I remember my dad talking about a recount and a guy named Bush stealing an election. Fast forward to the 2008 election and I clearly remember the Democratic Primaries. I ardently supported Hillary Clinton for our party’s nomination. Although I wanted her to become our 44th President, there was nothing I could do… I was 13.

Now that I’m old enough to vote, I’m saddened whenever I see the turnout numbers. The first cycle I voted was in the 2014 midterms, and only 36.4% of eligible voters actually showed up to the polls. In 2016 and 2018, 55.7 and 50.3% of eligible voters cast a ballot, respectively. Those numbers appall me. It is truly shocking that, on average, 52.5% of voters didn’t bother to vote in the three most recent election cycles.

The other day, I met a young expat. The entire time we spoke, he talked ill of Trump and all the horrible actions he’s taken since he took office. I gently asked him, “Well… did you vote in the last election?”, “No! My vote won’t make a difference!” When I heard those words being uttered, my blood boiled. HIS VOTE COULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE!

Low turnout tends to help Republicans. Low turnouts in Florida in the year 2000, and low turnout in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in 2016, were decisive to give us two of the worst presidents in modern history. Imagine what would have happened if turnout would have been different. We could have prevented having children separated from their parents at the border, tax cuts for the top 1%, destruction of the environment by large transnational corporations, and billions and billions of dollars being spent on war.

I vote because I care about my fellow US citizens. I vote because I believe government should be there to help everyone, not just a few. I vote because I believe that the United States should be and can be a force of good on this planet. I vote because I believe we can have a fair economy, one that lifts immigrants, the poor and needy, and those who are living from paycheck to paycheck.

Voting is freedom of speech in its ultimate form. It is enshrined in our Constitution.

Do not squander this golden opportunity to change your life.

I will vote… Will you?

Why I Vote - ¿Por Qué Voto? -- Amerika Garcia-Grewal

Why I Vote -- by Amerika Garcia-Grewal
Since I turned 18 I've lived in Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, and New York. I've been to each state capital and to Washington, DC to visit my legislators and share my concerns about different issues over the years. Voting is more than "something to do" every four years; it's a way of building up our country's leadership, beginning at the local level, and supporting them all the way to the White House.
My move to Fiji in 2014 made it more challenging to participate in local elections. Because of the lengthy mail times I have never received a ballot from my hometown election office in time to vote on that ballot. Luckily, the tools at VoteFromAbroad.org make it easy to make sure I'm registered to vote and that I'm using the right ballots to vote.
So why do I vote? I vote because I love my country. I vote because I saw my parents vote when I was a child. I vote because I want my voice to be heard. I vote because I am a role model for my family. I vote because I know that not every country allows its citizenry to participate in democratic elections.
I vote because it matters.
Por qué voto -- por Amerika Garcia-Grewal
Desde que cumplí 18 años, he vivido en Texas, Tennessee, Kansas y Nueva York. He estado en la capital de cada estado y en Washington, DC para visitar a mis legisladores y compartir mis preocupaciones sobre diferentes temas a lo largo de los años. Votar es más que "algo que hacer" cada cuatro años; es una forma de construir el liderazgo de nuestro país, comenzando a nivel local, y apoyándolos hasta la Casa Blanca.
El venir a vivir a Fiji en 2014 hizo más difícil mi participación en las elecciones locales. Debido al lento servicio de correo, nunca he recibido una boleta de la oficina de elecciones de mi ciudad natal a tiempo para votar en esa elección. Afortunadamente, las herramientas en VoteFromAbroad.org hacen que sea fácil estar segura de que estoy registrada para votar y de que estoy usando las boletas correctas para votar.
Entonces, ¿por qué voto? Voto porque amo a mi país. Voto porque vi a mis padres votar cuando era niña. Voto porque quiero que mi voz sea escuchada. Voto porque soy un modelo para mi familia. Voto porque sé que no todos los países permiten que sus ciudadanos participen en elecciones democráticas.
Yo voto porque importa.

Why I Vote? - ¿Por Qué Voto? — Melanie García

Why I Vote

As an American living in the Dominican Republic, I cherish the right to vote because it is a right that we as U.S. citizens all have, and we cannot be denied this sacred right to express our collective voices in American democracy. I choose to vote because I am exercising my right to choose who will represent us, who will help the overall American people, who will be the best choice in leading us while not causing further harm to our country, and who will respect the sovereignty of our shared American values.

My vote is important to both me and my electorate. It does not matter that I am not currently living within the U.S. and going to my designated polling place on Election Day. By casting a ballot from overseas, I am proud to demonstrate my deep caring for all that is happening within the U.S., and I will do everything I possibly can to defend my U.S. voting rights.

I look forward to each election back in New York because I can learn about the candidates running for office and I can then make an informed decision as to which persons would do the best job of representing me at the local, state, and federal offices. More than ever, I look forward to the upcoming elections because I want to choose candidates who are genuinely interested in working to find a solution to the many problems happening back in our home country.

Why do I vote? By always exercising our right to vote from abroad, we are setting an example for other Americans as to showing our civic duty in participating in the electoral process. All voting-age Americans abroad who care about our country should cast their ballot whenever they can. Because if we do choose not choose to participate in elections, we are not holding the government and politicians accountable for our well being.

I want a better future for me, my family, and all Americans. I vote because I want a seat at the table. I vote because if we choose to not vote, we might as well be on the menu.


¿Por qué Voto?

Como norteamericana viviendo en República Dominicana, valoro el derecho a votar porque es un derecho que todo tenemos como ciudadanos estadounidenses, y este derecho sagrado de poder expresar democráticamente todas nuestra voces es un derecho al que no podemos negarnos. Elijo votar porque estoy ejercitando mi derecho a elegir quien nos debe representar, quien ayudara a todos los norteamericanos, quien será la mejor elección en guiarnos sin causar daño a nuestro país, y quien respetará la soberanía de nuestros valores americanos.

Mi voto es importante tanto para mí como para mi electorado. No importa que no esté viviendo actualmente en Estados Unidos, voy a ir a mi correspondiente oficina electoral en el día de las elecciones. Ejercitando el derecho de voto desde fuera de Estados Unidos, estoy orgullosa de demostrar mi profunda preocupación y respeto sobre todo lo que está ocurriendo en Estados Unidos, y haré todo lo que esté en mi mano para defender mi derecho de voto.

Estoy involucrada en cada una de las elecciones que se celebran en Nueva York y puedo aprender de los candidatos que se presentan para así poder tomar un decisión informada sobre qué personas harán el mejor trabajo para representarme a nivel local, estatal y en las oficinas federales. Ahora más que nunca estoy pendiente de las próximas elecciones porque quiero elegir a los candidatos que estén profundamente interesados en trabajar para encontrar una solución a muchos de los problemas que pasan en nuestro país.

¿Por qué voto? ejercitando siempre mi derecho de voto desde el extranjero, estamos fijando un ejemplo para otros norteamericanos mostrando nuestra función cívica de participar en los procesos electorales. Todos los estadounidenses en edad de votar que vivan en el extranjero y que se preocupen por nuestro país deben ejercitar su derecho de voto siempre que puedan. Porque si elegimos no participar en los procesos electorales, no podemos hacer a los a los gobernantes y políticos responsables de nuestro bienestar.

Quiero un mejor futuro para mí, para mi familia y para todos los norteamericanos. Voto porque quiero una silla en la mesa. Voto porque, de no hacerlo, podemos acabar estando en el menú.

Why I Vote - Thorin Engeseth

Yo voto porque la historia se repite. Porque mi madre no debería haber tenido que trabajar en tres trabajos para criar a tres hijos. Porque las únicas personas que pueden cambiar el mundo son las personas que toman medidas. Porque mi esposa merece autonomía.
Tenemos derecho a votar, y lamentablemente no es un derecho que se disfruta en todo el mundo. No sólo debemos nuestro voto a nosotros mismos y a los sin voz, sino al planeta.
No hay lugar en la sociedad para el miedo, el odio y la violencia. Con mi voto, contribuyo a un futuro mejor y más optimista para mi familia, mi salud, el planeta y los derechos humanos. Es fácil decir por qué voto; es difícil decir por qué algunas personas no lo hacen.

Why I Vote - Carlos Colao

Votar representa la consagración de nuestra libertad sobre cuyo derecho se constituye y plasma la máxima manifestación democrática de nuestra Sociedad, y sobre la que erige y levanta nuestra Constitución americana como norma suprema en la que poder someter la corrupción, la avaricia y la maldad encarnada en los pecados más amargos del poder.

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