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Undocumented on election night


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At the n+1 website, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio has a moving and important piece on what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant in the US watching the presidential election results come in. Although undocumented immigrants can’t vote, their ability to stay in the country—to stay with their families and loved ones—may hang in the balance. An excerpt:

I have watched every Presidential election on television since I was a child, but I have never felt the degree of terror my loved ones and I feel now. There is so much at stake—I think of Mr. and Mrs. Khan often—but nothing closer to home than the ability of my family to stay together. I cannot vote. My mother cannot vote. My father cannot vote. On Tuesday night we will watch our fate unfold on television with the rest of the country, red and blue and shades filling in the green-screen electoral map amid talking-head chatter. Will there be commercials?

I asked undocumented friends and friends of friends to show me photographs of the screens they will be watching. Some of these screens belong to DACA beneficiaries doing Teach for America. Some of them belong to restaurant workers who pull two or three shifts a night. One of them belongs to my family. One of them belongs to me. My closest friend from college told me, “I wish I had words to convey what I feel honestly. I’ve spoken to many friends who say they are doing a protest vote or that they are so disillusioned with elections, or that they aren’t voting. That’s a privileged position to be in. For people like us, everything hinges on our neighbors’ votes.”

Image via n+1.