“This country gives you the opportunity to change your life,” Alicia, a Mexican immigrant, tells me as we speak a few days later. “But what happens January 21?”
Alicia grew up in Mexico City, but she and her husband have lived in the United States for years and raised their children here. She works as a community organizer for Long Beach’s immigrant community, and says that many of the worries shared by people in that community — both documented and undocumented — swirl around children.
Alicia worries about how many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US are effectively young enough that deportation would tear them away from the only thing they’ve known — usually because they were brought here by their parents as very young children. But Alicia also points to children who are US citizens because they were born here, but have undocumented parents.
She notes that her own children have stronger Spanish language skills than most Americans, but might find themselves at sea in Mexico, where others speak their native language more fluently and fluidly. And that fear is echoed to her by other parents: For many of their kids, deportation will be an even tougher transition than it already is for anyone who experiences it.
“We don’t hate our new president, but he needs to know what’s happening in our community,” she says.