Unable to vote in the presidential election, a group of undocumented immigrants is knocking on doors in Northern Virginia in support of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates, convinced that the outcome of the vote will determine whether they can secure a path to citizenship in the country they have known since childhood.
The vote-seekers are some of the 750,000 recipients of temporary legal status under the Obama administration’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They are acutely aware that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has pledged to deport the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and that under a GOP-controlled Congress, past attempts at immigration reform have failed.
“All DACA recipients should take this on as an added responsibility, to change the power structure,” said Luis Angel Aguilar, 28, who received his protected status in 2013 and is helping to coordinate the effort. “Our voices need to be heard,” he said.
The Maryland-based group [CASA in Action] is behind the Virginia campaign and a similar one in central Pennsylvania. Similar efforts are underway in Arizona and other battleground states. The Clinton campaign launched a separate effort earlier this year, “My Dream, Your Vote,” in which young undocumented immigrants, many of them brought to this country as children, urged Latino voters in North Carolina, Nevada, Florida and elsewhere to cast ballots for the Democratic nominee.
Jennifer Romero, 19, thought about her own relatives as she hustled through a different Herndon neighborhood of quiet cul-de-sacs with large two-story houses. She and a younger brother received protected status under DACA in 2014. Her parents, from Mexico, remain undocumented and vulnerable to deportation.
“That’s the fear,” said Romero, who lives in Stafford. “It’s like they’d take away what little we have.”
On a different afternoon in Woodbridge, the group tried to secure a few extra votes for Clinton and to get people to oppose a state constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would prohibit union organizing.