|From the left: Dong Yoon Kim, Genie Nguyen, Leni Gonzalez, Lenka Mendoza, and Edgar Aranda-Yanoc.|
Several leaders of immigrant rights organizations participated in the briefing, the day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, to reassure people facing an uncertain future that “we’re here for them,” Kim said.
During his campaign, Trump and his followers called for mass deportations, closed borders, and stronger vetting for foreigners seeking to enter the country. Trump referred to undocumented immigrants from Mexico as criminals and rapists and said he would build a wall along the Mexican border.
“Last night I was saddened that anger and fear seemed to triumph,” said Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, chair of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations. He vowed to push back against hate and defend the rights of immigrant communities.
“The United States is a nation of immigrants who have helped built it into the great nation that it is, and we will demand that it recognize our contributions and welcome us as so many have been done before,” he said.
Aranda-Yanoc does not think Trump will succeed in carrying out his threat to deport 11 million people, calling that a campaign promise rather than a realistic plan.
“We have to keep fighting to protect what we have,” he said. “This is a nation of laws.” He urged immigrants to attend a “Know Your Rights” forum Oct. 15, 7 p.m., at United Culmore Methodist Church.
“Standing in solidarity with leaders of all ethnic communities, Voice of Vietnamese Americans solemnly urges the newly elected president to uphold our American values: that of liberty and justice for all,” said President Genie Nguyen.
Nguyen, who came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975, urged Trump to “embrace immigrants and refugees who are risking their lives to reach freedom.”
“We have come out of the shadows of fear and hate. We are not going back into the shadows,” said Lenka Mendoza of Dreamers’ Mothers in Action.
Following the election of Trump, “the fight might be more difficult, but it is not impossible,” Mendoza said. “Now is the time to stay united, be educated on your rights, and move forward together.”
“A true leader builds bridges,” said Leni Gonzalez, chair of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights, who urged Trump to push for a path to citizenship. “Not moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform will only continue to polarize our country and divide our nation.”
“America is already great. Immigrants make it greater. We have to continue to have hope,” she said. “We have a voice and we will use it, especially for those who can’t speak for themselves.”