Casa Latina, the hub of Seattle's Latinx community, was crowded this morning. The organization, which is headquartered in the northern tip of the Chinatown-International District, hosted a meeting to provide their community a place to voice their fears and frustrations after the election.
While sipping coffees and quietly eating breakfast brought from home, attendees admitted that they were afraid for their families, especially their young children. One man, who did not wish to have his name used, told the crowd he was afraid of being "disappeared" like the 43 students missing from Iguala, Mexico.
Five Casa Latina workers were willing to sit down to talk about how they've been feeling since Donald Trump began his campaign of hate. Casa Latina communications director Chris Megargee helped translate these interviews, which were edited for length and clarity.
How did you feel when you learned Donald Trump was elected?
When the elections were happening, I watched on TV. Something happened that was very ugly. I was very stressed because I saw he was winning. I got all tensed up. It was the most bitter night of my life. It was terrible.
It’s terrible in the United State that people have so much discrimination against other people. … How could that be possible when you’re elected? It’s terrible really.
Do you fear for your and your family's safety?
I haven’t experienced anything directly, but I fear for Hispanic children and that they’ll be attacked. On the bus, I don’t talk because I am afraid. There are a lot of crazy people who are probably worked up about Trump. I’m afraid that they’ll do something to me. One never knows. It’s an intense stress that I have.
All of us, we’re not bad people. We’re not criminals like he says. We’re good people who came here to work to help our families get ahead. We don’t have criminal records, none of that. I think it’s like everything, there are bad people and good people.
They don’t have a heart. They don’t have feelings, all those people who follow Trump. There’s innocent children who cry for their parents and their parents are working hard. It hurts me a lot.
My grandchildren, I’m afraid [the new government] might do something to take them away. I’m on edge about this, especially for my grandchildren. He’s a monstrosity. There’s nothing else you can call. I’ve cried starting at six in the morning when I heard [he won]. I had to turn off the television.
When my son told me, I cried and cried. I looked at God and asked why. But one endures. We have to be strong. We have to keep moving forward. There’s nothing else you can call him. It’s terrible what all of us are going through now.
How have you been feeling since the election?
I feel fear, I feel nervous. Nervous because I arrived here in 2000. I brought my two children here when they were very young. They each have their own kids now, too. What the president is saying is that he wants to deport whoever, that it doesn’t matter if they have kids or not. It causes fear and sadness.
I don’t trust him because he's very rude and offensive. He doesn’t give us confidence. Instead of giving us confidence he gives us fear. I get headaches from it because I’m so afraid [for] my kids. What if he grabs them away?
Have you been harassed since Trump began his campaign?
No, but I see it. As I see it, we will suffer—my friendships, my children, my grandchildren. I'm afraid my grandchildren will have problems in school [with bullying]. Two are eight and two are 11.
My grandchildren have heard the fear their parents have. It makes really sad that my grandchildren are afraid.
What do you want Donald Trump to understand about Latinx immigrants?
I want to send a message to him. I think he’s wrong and he’s not doing his job well. Although we’re immigrants, the only charge against us is that we didn’t enter to country legally. We do our taxes and the money that we earn here, we spend here because we live here. It’s not just for them to send us back now that we’re accustomed to living here. We’re not harming anybody.
If you were harassed, would you feel comfortable reporting the incident?
If it [happens] directly to me, yes. I believe in justice. If I see something out of my control, I’ll still report it to 9-1-1.
Are you concerned about being deported?
Yes. After the election, I'm very afraid of being deported. I’m afraid for my nephews who are in school right now. And they’re going to participate in one of the rallies today. They might get beat up by other kids, so I’m afraid. I’m afraid of immigration starting the raids again. Obama stopped those raids, but he still deported the most undocumented workers in history.
Every president has their own strategies, but with Trump, there’s more controversy and panic going around. I’m more afraid of violence—it can turn lethal. That’s what we’re trying to prevent. ...
[Having worked in the U.S.], I believe I’ve contributed so much that I feel like I’m a citizen. I’ve done so much and I love this nation. I’m transgender woman, too. My message is don’t be afraid. We are together. I want equality. I hope the entire community, not just the gay community, hears this message and comes together and brings this message to Trump on his election day.
Are you afraid of Donald Trump and what he will do in office?
No, I don’t think so. I’m an optimistic and positive person. Most of my family has been calm. My reaction was just trying to look at things from the positive side.
I live here with my brothers and sisters. They’re positive people. They’re studying and working and they’re documented. I’m in the process of securing [citizenship]. I thinking every administration is changing and I’m hopeful that the changes will be positive. As a Latino, I’m trying to do the best to prepare myself to have an opportunity in this country.
Why do you come to Casa Latina?
Oh, it's very important. Casa Latina is my second house. I had my GED in my country, but here at Casa Latina I’ve received a lot of classes and workshops and trainings. I think all those trainings have helped me in my life. Now I have more preparation.
Are you afraid of Donald Trump?
Yes and no. I feel some fear, but not in the sense that they’ll deport me. My fear is that he is a person that doesn’t know much about politics. [What happens] when he’s at world summits and things? What about North Korea? What if we end up in World War III? That’s what I’m afraid of.
Do you plan to protest and take part in the marches?
Currently, I want to support them. I’ve protested before in the capitol in California. … I want to try to participate.
There’s maybe a small, tiny chance that we could remove Donald Trump from office. Maybe he could feel so much pressure that he might resign? I’ve never seen anything like [him and his campaign] in the United States.