Dozens of Latino activists gathered Wednesday near the colonial Mexican pueblo of Los Angeles, the historic downtown center, to chant their defiance of President-elect Donald Trump, whose election Tuesday has cast uncertainty over millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally, most of them Hispanic.
Trump’s aggressive stand on illegal immigration has mobilized many immigrants from Latin America and Asia to campaign and vote, both for and against his candidacy.
Andreyna Baldenegro, an activist with CARACEN, the Central American Resource Center, said she is still in shock over Trump’s election and, like most of her friends, she is feeling “disappointment, a lot of sadness.”
Activists chanted “aqui estamos y no nos vamos” — “we are here and we’re not leaving” — as Pedro Trujillo explained that he and his sister are at risk of deportation when President Trump takes office January 20.
The siblings were born in Mexico and brought to the United States as children, and are now shielded under President Barack Obama’s program called DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Trump has said he will reverse the program.
“Our status and our way of life in this country are in limbo,” Trujillo said.
Blanca Flores, who came to the United States from El Salvador 30 years ago, is a legal immigrant but says many others around her are not.
“I’m afraid for my family,” she said in Spanish. “I’m afraid for our friends and for my coworkers.” Her sister, brother and nephew are undocumented.
Jonathan Paik of the Korean Resource Center shares similar concerns for undocumented South Korean immigrants — a smaller group than Latin Americans without legal status, he says, but still hundreds of thousands of people. He said he will join with other activists “to make sure that our communities get what they deserve” and press their demands, regardless of who is in the White House.
Chinese immigrant David Wang, a successful investor, is on the other side of the issue.
Wang has knocked on doors in Pennsylvania and Nevada in support of Trump, whose policies Wang believes will help immigrants from Asia and the country as a whole.
“We are the silent minority,” said Wang, the founder of the group Chinese Americans for Trump, of his ethnic community. “We never talk about politics, and this is why politicians usually sacrifice Chinese-Americans for other ethnicities,” including blacks and Hispanics.
Wang says he is opposed to educational policies that favor other minorities over Asians in college admissions. He appreciates what he calls Trump’s assertive style, charisma and rejection of political correctness, his brashness in saying out loud what others will only think.
For Pedro Trujillo, the fight is personal.
“We’re here to stay and we’re not going to go anywhere,” he said, as activists behind him chanted “Se se puede” — “Yes, we can” — the rallying cry of defiant Latino farmworkers that was later embraced by Democratic Party politicians, including Obama and unsuccessful presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.