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“I fear for the future of our youth.”

An interview with Elizabeth Celaya, immigrant to the Hudson Valley

Por Evelyn Reyes Delgado
July 2017
The legal terms of immigration have become highly uncertain since the new president took office.  I believe that it is important that the thoughts and feelings of the immigrant community, in this case the Hispanic community of the Hudson Valley, are understood and considered. So, I decided to interview one of the Hispanic cafeteria workers at my college, and bring her message to all the readers of La Voz.
Evelyn Reyes Delgado: What were your first thoughts when you learned that Donald Trump had been elected president?
Elizabeth Celaya: I knew that there were difficult times ahead for immigrants, since he had already demonstrated his stance against us with denigrating and hateful comments. And even more so for me, being a woman and an immigrant, since he believes that women cannot succeed and sees us as “ornaments” for men.
ERD: As a mother, what do you fear most?
EC: I fear for the future of our youth, especially those we call dreamers. I fear for the future of my children, who, despite being born here, will find that having Hispanic parents can lead to closed doors for them. I worry that they will be denied the help and support that they need in order to continue their studies. As a mother, I also fear that families will be separated, just for being undocumented. One day I heard my ten-year-old nephew ask his mother, “What will happen if one day I got to school and they take you to Mexico?” Sometimes there are no answers for these questions, because parents want to foster feelings of security, not fear.
ERD: What measures have your family taken to avoid panicking?
EC: My family and I are not afraid. We do have conversations about what could happen, but as we Mexicans say, “If it happens, it happens.”
ERD: Have you participated in any pro-immigrant protests?
EC: During the “day without immigrants,” my family and I participated partially. My children refused to go to school, and my husband and I went to work, but we didn’t buy anything from the local business that were open.

ERD: You are not a United States citizen. Have you considered trying to obtain citizenship?
EC: I am not a citizen, and although I have considered the option of becoming one, I still don’t meet the requirements. I’ve lived in the United States for 18 years, and I obtained my work visa in 2002.
ERD: Did your work environment change once Trump was elected?
EC: No, I never felt any change in attitude with my coworkers. I even joked with them and said, “See you later, Trump won and soon they’ll send me to Mexico.” It was a way of seeing things in a different light.
ERD: Have you ever considered moving back to Mexico?
EC: Yes, but maybe in fifteen years or so. First, I want my children to have established themselves financially here, so I can return to my country in peace.
ERD: What do your children think about this possibility?
EC: They tell me that it’s all right, that they would come to visit me. My son in particular would not want to live in Mexico, but my daughter does consider it as an option.

ERD: What message would you give to Hispanic immigrants of the Hudson Valley?
EC: My message is that we don’t have to be afraid. Instead, we must show what we’re capable of. Sometimes, the people who are born here and have more privileges don’t take advantage of the opportunities that they are offered, and they end up seeing us in a negative light. However, we did not just come here to consume, but to produce as well. We are a powerful motor in the economy of this country. 

Evelyn Reyes Delgado is a Junior at Bard College
Translated into English by Olive Kuhn


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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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