Donald Trump’s presidential victory has cast a sense of sadness and terror for local Latinos, who fear mass deportations and separation of families.
The Heartland Workers Center hosted a watch party Tuesday night, which organizers say started in high spirits, celebrating first time voters and the high Latino voter turnout in South Omaha.
”It started out as a great community celebration because throughout the day we saw a lot of political participation – we were voting, we increased the numbers of voters and then as the polls started coming in, everyone started getting quiet,” says Lucia Pedroza, a community organizer for the Heartland Workers Center.
”It was a sinking feeling – it was a little bit of fear mixed with emotions of sadness and realization that our country is so deeply divided,” says Emiliano Lerda, Executive Director for Justice for Our Neighbors –Nebraska.
Trump, whose central campaign promises included deporting millions of Mexican immigrants, building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and overturning decades-old trade deals with Mexico, lost much support of Latino voters throughout his campaign.
“Building walls, deporting people, separating families – that’s not what America’s all about. It’s not what the next President of the United States should be all about,” says Sergio Sosa, the Executive Director for the Heartland Workers Center.
Pedroza says many Latinos now face uncertainty over the future of some Latinos and their families in the Nebraska.
“Hopefully it doesn’t mean mass deportations, separations of families. That’s our biggest fear right now. Because that would break the morale of the entire Latino community,” says Pedroza.
Sosa says the hateful rhetoric Trump used against Latinos during his campaign, or what he refers to as the ‘Trump Factor’ stumped the hopes for comprehensive illegal immigration reform.
“People are scared. They’re thinking about a relative who has DACA- or that’s undocumented. They’re thinking about families - family members getting deported. They feel fear - I’ve seen many people crying today. The hope was lost last night,” says Sosa.
Sosa says that Latinos now need to take a moment to lick their wounds and continue to encourage Latinos to shift their fear to action.
“Yes, we’re sad. We’re hurt. We’re tired. We’ve worked hard – but will keep doing that. We need to combine all of feelings and stand up again as a community and take this as a lesson, ‘what do we need to from this? What can we do differently next time? We need to meet with organizers and community leaders and start thinking of how to better prepare for the next four years,” says Sosa. “Because voting is just the beginning of political participation. We need to remember that people who get elected work for us – to represent us. And if they are working for us, we need to hold them accountable.”
“For those in the Latino community who are scared and are considering making rushed decisions on their future based off Trump’s victory, I would say, ‘Please stay calm.’ They need to be careful where they seek information and should only rely on information from credible sources,” says Lerda. “As immigration attorneys, we will do our best to inform Latinos and their families on any future changes in immigration that could affect them.”
Sosa says those in fear are not alone: “We are not alone. We have each other. And if we did it once, we can do it again. And we will do it again.”