Life was already rough for Latino families before November 8 when the United States election’s outcome took our nation and the world by surprise. The following days were rough for many, but especially uncertain for families with mixed legal status in what pundits were calling The Divided States of America. Children did not attend school and those who did attend feared for their future and that of their families. No child should have to worry about coming home from school, only to learn a parent has been deported.
Recently, a regular school event once overflowing with parents eager to help, was half empty because it fell on #ADayWithoutImmigrants. Various community-based organizations are trying to come together to figure out a way to ensure Latino families that they will be safe, but with the current administration there is no real way to make that assurance to any minority group targeted both during the presidential campaign and after.
Schools struggle to engage parents in their children’s’ education. More and more, Latino parents are afraid of stepping foot on school grounds. As some families in my community have expressed to me, they now think twice before even grocery shopping. They sometimes feel like they cannot risk taking their children to the park. And yet, still they try, they work, they persist.
These families live in a state of constant fear. Latinos as a group are not a threat to society. Immigrants in general are only seeking a better life. Indeed, many of our current undocumented immigrants were unfortunate to migrate after the gates were closed, but that does not mean they are a burden to society.
Immigrants pay taxes and start new businesses. Immigrant groups over centuries arrived to America to escape poverty, war, or seek opportunities. If only we as people could learn from history. Undocumented immigrants in the U.S. collectively contribute nearly $12 billion each year in the form of income, property, sales or excise taxes, according to a study from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy. The economic impact Latinos have in the country as a group is growing at a steady rate, and according to Nielsen, a global information measurement firm, Latinos are “the most influential segment since the baby boomers,” representing a $1.5 trillion consumer market.
We are all in this together and immigrants are playing a big part.