Rita

Mexico

Community Organizer/Teacher 

Since Trump got to the White House, it has been very difficult for me. My youngest child realized then that his parents were undocumented. My kid asked me, “Mom, do you have papers to be here?” At school they were talking about Mexicans who don’t have papers. At night he wouldn’t sleep. He was very worried that Trump was going to kick us out of here. Every single thing Trump does makes us feel like it’s just diminishing our hopes of having documents. Our hope has been that when our child turns 21 then we can get documents.

The way Trump is now changing things day by day, what he’s saying right now is that he’s trying to take the citizenship out of children that were born of undocumented parents. It’s interesting because since I’ve been here, my dream is to go back to visit my family. The most difficult part for me has been when my nephew passed away and I could not go and be with them to support my family, my parents and my brother. My grandparents also passed away and I couldn’t go to see them before they passed.

I think God gives us strength to be here. For me, my life changed when I found the group of United Families. I remember the date, it was January 6, 2005. There was a difference from that day on in my life. They were a great support group. The ladies in the group are like my family, the family I don’t have here.

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Teaching is my dream, is something I love to do. I have kind of accomplished a little bit of that by volunteering at the center. I’ve been volunteering at that center for about 11, 12 years now. I am actually very blessed to have the family support network center because it allows me to give my time to the community. Because it’s not only about caring for your children within your family, but it’s about also caring for the community in which your children are growing.

I have three children, 19, 15 and 12 years. Only the oldest one has been to Mexico before. The other younger two have not been to Mexico, but I’ve made an effort so that my children can feel proud of their roots and to feel very proud of their parents and their Latino community, and to be very proud that they have both cultures and helping them to not feel less for having both cultures. At school, it’s very difficult for them. They feel really bad when they speak ill of Hispanic people.

Before racism was kind of quiet and hidden in this community. You could potentially see it with adults here and there, particularly, farmers. But Trump’s politics have sparked open racism and we saw it directly and openly at the high school. In this town, a lot of youth from the high schools came out at racist. Obviously, they already had that in them, but now they feel very embolden by the politics of Trump and what he’s saying out loud.

The guy that killed the girl with the car in Charlottesville, he’s from our area. When we found out about that, and we found out that he was going to the state university in Stanislaus, we got united with a group of youth activist. We got ourselves in the community center and we presented ourselves to the community to let them know we’re here and that we’re not going to accept racism because we’re also part of this community.

Even though this town is a racist town, and it’s sad, the Hispanic community has grown. Something positive that we can say about this community here in Northern California, the workers in the fields no longer are they only workers, many of them are now owners of farms. Not only are they now owners of these farms, now they are citizens and they exercise their right to vote. We can see culture there, we can see the power of wealth and we can see the power of voting. We’ve noticed changes here as well.