Aliento Voices: There is a dark cloud over the immigrant community.

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There is a dark cloud over the immigrant community.

Immigration raids in Mississippi, shootings in El Paso, and the constant rhetoric from the Trump administration harm the mental state of mixed status families. There is a dark cloud over the immigrant community. No one wants to talk about it. Everyone tries to avoid it. But like any cloud, it can not be eliminated. It's a force of nature. The fear and anxiety is palpable. The fact seems to be that at any time or at any moment your loved ones could be taken away from you by ICE or a white nationalist targeting your community. 

For me, the dark cloud has always existed. At times it's been smaller, and has even seemed to disappear, but with the rise of Donald Trump in 2015 it’s grown exponentially. Every table conversation, every birthday party, every family gathering ends up talking about immigration & Donald Trump. Is he going to win re-election? Is the Supreme Court gonna end DACA? Am I going to be undocumented again? What’s going to happen to my children, if I get deported? What’s going to happen to mom & dad? Are they doing raids in Phoenix, too? There's no easy answer. We end up finding solace in our strength as a family and our belief in a higher power. 

I see my niece cry as she reads books, jumps online, or watches the TV. I see my mother worry. She says why are they after me, I didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t do anything bad. I work, I am a good mother, I go to church, and I help my community. It's hard for my mother to see that there are people in this world that hate immigrants. It's hard for my mother to understand hate. She had a really hard life, virtually raising her younger siblings at 11 years old. She raised four children in poverty having herself only a first grade education, and all the while never complaining. All she ever wanted was to give her children a better life and to honor her parents as the Catholic church has told her.

Right after the 2016 election I didn’t want to invest in my home, my car, or make any purchases that I couldn’t take with me if I got deported. I am very privileged within the immigrant community. I have DACA, a social security, a driver's license, and my deportation is deferred. It took me until April of 2018 to actually be able to really live. I have gotten to a place where I am going to live as best as I can without worry of deportation. However, most people can’t. Mothers & fathers don’t have that option. If ICE comes for them what’s going to happen to their children? The amount of awful rhetoric, the constant wording of calling your dad, mom, brother, sister, or friend “illegal” is too much. Everywhere I turn I see it or hear it. I can’t imagine how children, youth, and parents are processing. 

This dark cloud is overtaking our lives. It's paralzying us with fear. Fear of losing loved ones. Fear of coming home and your mom & dad being suddenly gone. Fear of you being taken away to a land you don’t know. I remember when police came to my home and took my dad. I was 9, 10, or 11 years old. I actually don’t remember those years well. I just remember being angry and sad. My mother now tells me that my teacher would call asking about my behavior at home. That suddenly my demeanor had changed. I do remember how angry I was in high school and college. For some reason I couldn’t assimilate to the apparent fact that I was inferior to my peers. That I couldn’t travel for fear of deportation. That I couldn’t afford to buy lunch because I needed money for the bus. That no matter how hard I tried I wouldn’t get hired after I graduated. I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t accept that, I still can’t. Again, here is this hard reminder that no matter how hard I try, I am still not good enough. I am still not good enough under this government. 

Thankfully, through all the work I have done, my family, friends, and I have come to understand that while the government won’t recognize us as “good,'' that doesn’t mean we aren’t. I don’t need an external factor to give me dignity. I am born good enough. I don’t need others to validate my existence. I wish I would have come to that realization sooner. I hope all immigrants know and truly believe that they are entitled to their humanity at birth. I hope all know that they are good enough, whatever that means. 


Jose Patiño

Advocacy & Policy Director at Aliento

Jose Patiño was born in Mexico, raised in the Valley of the sun, Phoenix, AZ. He migrated at the age of six with this family and is part of the 1% DACAmented people in the U.S. with a master’s degree. He is an educator, and an activist. Jose holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Arizona State University and a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Grand Canyon University. Jose became involved in the Immigrant Rights and Dreamer Movement in 2009.