Many Long Islanders have been frustrated, worried and disappointed by this year’s presidential campaign. But for me, the election could very well determine whether my family can stay together in this place we love, or whether I may be deported and taken from my fiance and my siblings.
I came to the United States as a second-grader from Honduras in 2003 with my parents, who were looking for a better future but were not able to get a visa. They brought us here in a search of economic opportunities to support my siblings and me. It was difficult, but, after a few years, Long Island became my home. It was where I went to high school, made dear friends, and met the love of my life.
But as I became a Long Islander, I also lived with the fear of my family being separated. My mother was able to get Temporary Protected Status and one of my sisters is a U.S. citizen because she was born here. Another sister, my father and I lacked legal authorization to be here. We knew that any run-in with immigration authorities could lead to one of us being detained and deported.
The fear subsided in 2012, when President Barack Obama announced the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — a reprieve from possible deportation that would give me work authorization. The day of the president’s announcement, I was home with my sister and mother. My dad was at work, and he called us to tell us the news. We all cried. It marked the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
Since receiving DACA, I’ve been able to finish high school in Brentwood. Now, I have a scholarship at Suffolk County Community College. And I’ve recently become engaged to the man I love.
But as we approach Election Day, I’m terrified. Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has railed against immigrants illegally in the United States, has vowed to end DACA and proceed with mass deportations if elected.
I know how vulnerable I would be if Trump is elected president on Tuesday. I could be picked up and sent to an immigration detention center at any moment, and deported to Honduras. And the same is true for my sister and cousins — 10 relatives, seven of whom live on Long Island, have DACA. More than 60,000 people in New York State have received DACA protection, federal government data show.
A Trump victory would put all of my hopes for the future in jeopardy. The potential end to DACA and mass deportation is horrifying. I imagine immigration authorities patrolling neighborhoods and picking people up based on how they look. It’s most un-American.
This election is personal for me. I can’t vote, but whether my neighbors vote — and for whom — will determine my family’s future. In recent months, I’ve made sure that many of my relatives who have become citizens have registered to vote.
If you’re a Long Island voter, I’m asking you: when you go into the voting booth on Nov. 8, please stand up for families like mine.
Marcy Suarez is a Brentwood resident and a member of Make the Road Action, an immigrant advocacy group on Long Island.