(Rebecca Mena / Daily Titan)

Living in Southern California has meant living among other Hispanic and Mexican immigrants in my community. It also means living in fear of “la migra,” or the Border Patrol. The green stripe on their vehicles has only intensified the anxiety of migrants who are simply trying to live among everyone else. We work, we pay taxes and we stay out of trouble. But President Donald Trump is still convinced that most of us are criminals and thugs, stealing jobs and leeching off the country. 

From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic along with the civil unrest and brutality aimed at the Black communities across America, voting in the upcoming election is more important than ever. Not only is the presidency on the line, but also the future and livelihood of marginalized communities. 

The administration under Trump has repeatedly made living safely in this country almost impossible for undocumented citizens and immigrants. As the daughter of an immigrant, Trump’s 2016 election win set off a chain reaction of chaos and uncertainty for my family and other families across the nation. 

In this turbulent time, the lives of millions of Americans hang in the balance as the nation awaits results for the upcoming presidential election. Undocumented, Black, brown, LGBTQ and minority communities need our votes to fight for equality and the rights which have been taken away under the current administration. 

While the future is blurry and filled with uncertainty, at least I know that my vote will help create a future toward justice. When I vote, I vote for my mother who has sacrificed so much to give me a better life. I vote for my mother who stressed the importance of making use of all the privileges I have as a United States citizen. I can attend college to earn an education and I can work to earn a living. 

Most importantly, I can vote to give my mother and fellow marginalized communities a fighting chance. I can fight for those whose voices are not heard. 

In 2018, the Trump administration set in place a “zero tolerance” policy for all migrants –– even those seeking asylum –– who were trying to enter the U.S. This policy meant that they would be detained and not allowed in.

The families that traveled to the border seeking asylum were torn apart, while women underwent hysterectomies which they did not consent to. 

Most recently, Trump attempted to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was put in place under the Obama administration. The program allows young undocumented immigrants to live, work and attend school in the U.S. 

If DACA is eliminated, it will only continue the nightmare that millions of families experience. 

While the Hispanic and Mexican communities continue to feel the pressure and wrath of the Trump administration, they are but one among other suffering marginalized communities. 

The Black communities in this country have been ravaged by two pandemics: COVID-19 and racial injustice. Systemic racism underscores the factors that contribute to the minority communities that are disproportionately affected by the virus due to a long history of discrimination and a lack of adequate housing, access to healthcare and education.

Although the pandemic has exponentially taken the lives of these communities, it has not stopped the Black community and its allies from taking to the streets and marching for equality amid the continued police brutality and killing of many innocent people. 

The injustices continue to pile on as reports of voter suppression have surfaced. In predominantly white communities, there are virtually no lines or wait times to cast a ballot. However, voters of color experienced 30-to-50 minute wait times in order to cast their ballots, according to the New York Times.

With this level of voter suppression, it’s critical to utilize the ability to vote in order to aid those who must wait longer to vote or may even be turned away.

Thousands upon thousands of peaceful protests have been held across the country over the past months in a fight to dismantle systemic racism and defund police departments that uphold a system which has failed and contributed to the loss of countless Black men and women.

Despite these nationwide efforts for reform, the current administration is opposed to defunding the police. 

The LGBTQ community has also fallen prey to bans and rollbacks implemented over the past four years. 

In 2019, a ban was put into place which kept LGBTQ individuals from joining the military and serving their country. These actions directly contradicted Trump’s 2016 election campaign promising to be an ally for the LGBTQ community.  

Though Trump has not ended the Affordable Care Act, the LGBTQ community no longer has healthcare protections from discrimination based on sex stereotypes and gender identity.

As citizens of this country with the ability to vote, it’s important to utilize every bit of power we have in order to pave a better path, not only for ourselves, but also for others who bear the brunt of this pandemic and this administration. 

Over 21 million Americans have voted already, but the election is still far from over. Create a plan to safely submit your vote and fight for our future. 

Polls to vote in-person in Orange County are open from Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Vote-by-mail ballots can be submitted at official drop-boxes from Oct. 5 to Nov. 3 or at in-person polling locations. 

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