We attended an ANSWER SanDiego’s banner making meeting last night for a scheduled protest on January 20th against the incoming administration, largely regarding the president-elect’s immigration & anti-women comments made during the election as well as proposed economic policies favoring billionaires over the common-working folk.
Our children had asked how they could get involved and this was the perfect opportunity. Protests are an essential/necessary element of our democratic institutions in order to hold our leaders accountable for their actions. While protests can become dangerous at times, with emotions and tensions running high, a banner making session is the perfect opportunity to get children involved and minimize risk.
While the presidency will change hands in just a few weeks, that does not mean we should back down. I spoke to many people at the meeting who genuinely feel they are going to be attacked and persecuted because of their differences of race, social class, gender and identity as well as other political and cultural factors from mainstream America. They are so very untrusting of the incoming administration and appalled by divisiveness we’ve seen thus far.
One activist I spoke with, in particular, explained to me that because of his race, he did not feel he had any other choice but to be at the meeting and to partake in the protests as a means of survival for himself, his family, and his friends. From his perspective, he explained that opposing viewpoints that undocumented immigrants are unproductive, are criminals, and take jobs from everyone else is simply untrue. He spoke the stereotype that the undocumented pay zero taxes is simply untrue. In fact, according to a recent report, undocumented immigrants paid $11.64 Billion in taxes in 2013. The problem, he said, is that people are being provided with false information and stereotypes which only serve to increase the problem.
Another dedicated activist explained there is a great concern about what is going to happen to people who came to this country as children illegally. Will they be forced to go back? Recently, Rick Santorum participated in a town hall session where an undocumented immigrant who came to this country as a child illegally spoke regarding her experience.
The speaker related her story and that of how she was now a successful and contributing member of society. She expressed her concern about what she would do if she were sent back to Mexico, impliedly because she had no real roots in the country and that she would be more of a foreigner in that country than in the U.S. Santorum’s response was deplorable – basically explaining that she would need to get in line and apply for re-entry – just like Trump previously said.
Such statements have increased divisiveness and spawned the very reasonsp why people in this country are so worried about the president-elect’s immigration plans. Protests are scheduled nationwide in response to anti-immigration sentiment.
These are very real problems which plague our communities in North San Diego County. At this very time, people across Southern California are engaged in the discussion of what they can do to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation as well as to help foster an environment where people feel safe; that their community will not turn on them after Trump takes office.
Immigration is just one of many concerns for people protesting Trump’s policies. Rather most of the issues surrounding the president-elect seem to concern the division of people into different groups and their marginalization as well as their diminution as valuable members of society. Whereas for many years, we were all considered assets to society, the incoming administration sows doubt as to our cohesiveness.
Again, this concern is very real and we must continue to have an open and supportive discussion as well as come up with solutions which will ensure the continued representation of all of the people while providing protection to those who were not represented well in this recent election. And we cannot be discouraged – we must stand up together and not back down. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer explained recently, we must hold Trump’s feet to the fire for any promise made to support the people’s cause. At the same time, we must oppose anything done to increase tension and divisiveness.