Tag Archives: Democrats

Voting in Anger In the Election

Though the high turnout of minority voters gave Joe Biden the edge in this election, exit polls showed that the majority of white voters favored Trump, exposing a ‘race gap’ in election 2020.

While three in five white voters (58%) supported Trump in 2020 like they did in 2016, 42% of white women voted for Trump, alongside Asians (34%), Latinos (32%,) and Black (12%). Among voters of color, over a third of Arab Americans polled preferred Trump because “they felt the Democrat’s support for Arabs was nothing but pandering for votes.” An AAPI survey also found that 48% of Vietnamese Americans and 28% of Asian Indians voted for the president.

But what puzzles the pundits is why white people (74 million) and some minorities voted the way they did. Though some voting patterns remain predictable, why did Trump win 3 out of 10 non-white voters? Why did half the country support a candidate whom the other half finds unacceptable?

The threadbare cliche that none of these groups (white, brown, or black) is monolithic, does not sufficiently explain why some of the electorate voted to support a norm-breaking candidate, whose views hew racist, sexist, xenophobic, disconnected and delusional, and who is responsible for a mangled response to a pandemic that has taken more than 300 thousand lives.

What do we really know about who voted for Trump and why?

Experts at a December 11 Ethnic Media briefing shared insights into voter turnout and the race gap in a contentious election.

The panel agreed that exit polls don’t tell the whole story. Polls only reflect those who voted, not those who did not cast a ballot. Despite a record number of votes in 2020, said  Mindy Romero a professor at USC, what’s significant is that 85 million eligible voters did not turn out  at all.

Trump got 31% vs 33% for Biden of eligible voters, among whom whites are a majority. So the voting electorate is not really representative of the voting population, stated Romero, because “disparities are entrenched in our electoral and prevent people from participating.’ If disparities were eliminated, Biden would have had a stronger mandate.

But there’s more at stake than counting voter turnout urged influential Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild. “It’s in our interest to get into the mindset of the 74 million who voted for Trump” because of the president’s partisan efforts to create divisiveness in the electorate.

Hochschild, the author of Strangers in their Own Land, shared her insights into the rise of conservative American voters. Her research, based on intensive interviews of Tea Party enthusiasts in Louisiana, drills down into the fundamental values and concerns of marginalized white voters that shaped turnout in this election.

Their story, she said, reveals the ‘anger and mourning’ on the right that’s fueling a sizable divide between Republicans and Democrats who don’t really seem to understand each other.

The left cannot assume that right-leaning voters with MAGA hats and pumping fists ‘are sitting pretty’ said Hochschild. That image is an illusion, describing very few who live in the Trump heartland around Eastern Kentucky and Appalachia, which is the focus of her current research.

In interviews, Trump supporters admit that life isn’t better for them after four years, but they are still voting for him.  Why? Because, Hochschild explained, Trump has a way of ‘insinuating himself into the dominant paradigm of evangelical Christians, and reaching into his base using the trifecta of a ‘treasonous press,’ the deep state, and his bout with COVID19, to position himself as a victim ‘suffering for them,’ and that he alone can save them. Many Christians see Trump as a savior, said Hochschild.

On the other hand, Democrats, despite their education and curiosity tend to live in urban enclaves and don’t have a presence in disadvantaged, white strongholds. Such political bubbles leave many in these communities feeling invisible explained Hochschild. Support for Trump is rooted in disillusionment and anger at the system.

White Anger and the Trump supporter

What prompts the right-wing hostility of Trump supporters, argues Hochschild, is “an anguishing loss of honor, alienation and engagement in a hidden social class war,” lying hidden beneath their difficult struggle for the American Dream.

Trump supporters get their picture of reality not just from Fox News but also mainstream media such as CNN and MSNBC. But their impressions of non-white newscasters and black football stars with multimillion dollar deals, have heightened their sense of being left out. To them, people of color appear to be getting ahead and receiving special treatment in what is perceived as a ‘put down of white men,’ said Hochschild, adding that they regarded themselves as ‘poor and dumb,’ and actually felt that life was rigged against them; they felt they were ‘sinking as others are rising.’

Ironically, this sense of victimhood has made  ‘a lot of white people…blue collar, high school educated white (Christian) people’ and pockets of poor folk, “feel like a minority group themselves” that is in decline, explained Hochschild.

One of her respondents had grown up in a trailer park where drug abuse and crime was rampant; he pointed out that communities like his were not dissimilar to those in the Bronx and Detroit, yet the media tended to portray poor whites in a more negative light.

So it was not racism, but economic anxiety, that propelled disenfranchised white voters towards Trump, explained Davin Phoenix, Asst. Professor of  Political Science, (USC Irvine), and author of The Anger Gap: How Race Shapes Emotion in Politics,

Trends show thatwhite people feel the ground shifting under their feet.” Trump has harnessed their fear of a shifting society and losing their dominant status, to fan white anger and normalize the Trumpian viewpoint. “Anger is a palpable force,” said Phoenix.

But anger against an unresponsive society does not drive people of color in a similar way, he countered. While white anger manifested in a 2016 Trump victory, there is a racial anger gap prevents black people from mobilizing their anger.

“Race shapes who gets to be publicly angry over politics’ stated Phoenix. It determines how the polity, the media treats groups inequitably based on how they air their grievances.

Contrary to the stereotype of the angry black man, people of color express less anger at the system than their  white counterparts.

White people express anger over politics by canvassing for candidates, going to the voting booth, donating, or contacting election officials. People of color are less likely to do so, though they may protest or boycott, said Phoenix. His research indicates that  when people of color encounter threats, they are more likely to withdraw from politics or pursue alternative forms of action.

“Anger consistently mobilizes White Americans toward a wide range of political actions more effectively than African Americans,” writes Phoenix 

The Media Narrative has to Change

Trump and his media echo chamber have continued to fuel this white anger in the run up to election 2020, and deepen the divide between Democrats and Republicans. Panelists agreed that the media narrative needs to change.

“There are lots of stories that could be written to reach across this divide,” suggested Hochschild, to frame migrant stories of both people of color and whites – Latino and Appalachian for example – so people can form a common, human connection. While we read about migrant camps on the Mexican border, the mainstream press does not cover out-of-work Appalachians in camped outside Cincinnati.  We need stories that remind us that “there is work that Latinos do, that is not competitive with what whites do.”

We also need to address the idea of ‘displacement’ said Hochschild, because many of these people are not entitled – they’re depressed and a little bit frightened. “Labelling people as racist is going to backfire.”

The media plays a key role in educating the electorate about race and power, democratic norms and how the electoral process works, added Romero. She warned that the media sets up the narrative when they blame certain groups for failure in voter turnout. Instead of playing the ‘blame game’ after every election – young people were apathetic, why did black people vote for Trump, why didn’t more Latinos vote  – Romero suggested the narrative must evolve from handwringing, to understanding the nuances in policy preferences among groups and where people are coming from, especially with historically underrepresented populations.  We need to reach out and honestly address racial bias to begin a positive dialogue and encourage people to get past their differences, urged Romero.

Thinking Ahead

The racial divide is underscored by misconceptions Democrats and Republicans have about each other, said Hochschild. In a survey Dems estimated that 50% of Republicans felt racism is still a problem, when that number was actually 80%. Republicans estimated that half of Democrats felt that police were ‘bad people’ when the actual number was lower (15%). Both sides are unable to predict what each think, and when perception of the other is so skewed, they really need to change tactics.

It won’t be easy, but Americans need to ’abandon party tribalism’, lower their guard, and listen to really understand each other, if they want to forge a less polarized, more inclusive country.

Meera Kymal is the contributing editor at India Currents

image credit: photopin Only in Oregon

We Are The Party Of Opportunity

“We are the party of opportunity for all,” declared Seema Nanda in an exclusive conversation with me late last week. As head of the Democratic National Committee, a post that she holds as we head into the final year and a half before a crucial national election, she is busy planning party strategy at many levels. Her voice did not waver – there was clarity and a sense of clear purpose as she outlined the party position on various issues as we chatted.

After the unexpected defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016, the question of what the overall party message will be in the coming months is a burning question in my mind. And, her answer was clear and unequivocal in its message of inclusivity.

“We have a message that resonates with all Americans – truth, opportunity, justice for all people, affordable healthcare and protecting all immigrants.” A positive message that aims to connect with all voters across the political spectrum. Her message was hopeful and inclusive – so I paused and asked her about her thoughts on the Republican message. Here, her answer was again clear and straightforward. “Hateful rhetoric has no place in our party; in fact, no party should appeal to our fear. When one group is attacked, we need to remember that no one is protected. This message stokes people’s fears about all sorts of immigrants.”

Seema Nanda pictured front row, middle

Seema says that she is so heartened with the woke community of South Asians working all over the country on behalf of Democratic candidates. “What I saw in Michigan shortly before the midterm elections resonated with me deeply. I was campaigning for candidates up and down the ballot. South asian community members were actively engaged in campaigning – many had never been politically engaged, but now they were signing up for shifts to knock on neighbors’ doors. They are also signing up to run for office at so many levels – from city councils to school boards to congressional seats. And, even if the South Asian candidate does not end up winning the primary, large numbers of community members are stepping up and doing their part.” This, she said, was a “positive development like none other.”

Also, as voters, she said, “Asian-Americans can ensure a critical margin for victory in countless races in the 2020 elections. They voted overwhelmingly for Democrats in the midterm election in 2018. We need to get the message out to all Asian Americans that we are indeed the party of opportunity; we are a pro-business party,” she declared.

Seema Nanda pictured second from left

When I asked her about the slate of candidates who have launched primary presidential campaigns in the Democratic party, she proudly said, “We have an embarrassment of riches with fantastic candidates on our side. At the DNC, my job is to make sure that the American people hear what they stand for, loud and clear. They are talking about issues that Americans truly care about – healthcare, the environment, gun violence – these are the issues that we should all care about. The fact that we have so many candidates is a very healthy process for the party.”

In focus groups, Americans continue to point out healthcare as being a crucial issue for them. “The availability of affordable healthcare threatens the economic security of millions of people, and the Republican party has been chipping away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without having an alternative plan in place.” Moving to issue based policymaking, I ask her about the setback because of the defeat of the new Green Deal. “In fact, the failure of the new Green deal is not really a failure, because we are the only party that is even talking about climate change – the other party is not even at the table. They are denying the findings of climate science.”

Moving to the hot button issue that fills our media channels day in an day out – she says, “Immigration – we have always lead on immigration, and lobbied for comprehensive immigration reform, and our efforts have been scuttled by the Republicans. The President has used his large bully pulpit  to confuse and mislead the American public. Our asylum policies comply with international law. Instead, today those seeking asylum are being treated in a despicable and inhumane manner.” When I pushed her saying that the obfuscation of issues has definitely led to a sea change in opinions of what immigrants contribute in our country, she said, “I agree with you – there are concerted efforts to confuse the issue. But, we are standing by the side of immigrants – we continue to ask about the children in detention. Even lawful immigration has been targeted. For instance, family based immigration which is perfectly legal is now being referred to as ‘chain migration’ an absolutely disgusting term. We need to unite around these issues, not be divided.”

As for nuts and bolts strategies in the coming months, the Rust Belt states are being organized differently this time. “We are on the ground organizing earlier than we did the last time around. One of the challenges we face when we are the opposition party is that after the nominating convention, we only have 5 to 6 months of national campaigning time before we go to the polls. This time, starting this summer, we are training 1000 young people in a special program, and once the nominee is decided, we will be able to ramp up dramatically soon to reach all segments of the population with our message. We are also campaigning for voter access all over the country, including on college campuses so that we hear from all segments, including young voters. Our challenge will be to counteract untruths from entering the election debate. We are on the lookout in cyberspace and we will counteract immediately that appears as lies to discredit our candidates and our policies.”

And, so ends my chat with Seema Nanda – with her articulating a clear, positive message – a message of inclusivity and of opportunity. As the weeks and months roll on, her ability to serve as the backbone in organizing a successful campaign on behalf of the Demoacratic party is sure to be tested at many levels. The American people will be watching the campaign and the party as they take the message of inclusivity and opportunity out to voters.

Nirupama Vaidhyanathan is the Managing editor of India Currents magazine.


The Lost Language of Progressive Patriotism

By M. Steven Fish

The investigation into Donald Trump’s alleged dealings with Russia presents the Democrats with their best chance in a half-century to become the natural party of government. The unfolding story hands them a rare opportunity to erase the Republicans’ perceived edge on patriotism and national security. It empowers them to take back the flag on behalf of all Americans. It carves a channel to voters who treasure their country’s security, global standing, and democratic institutions but who do not find traditional liberal appeals compelling. It primes some centrists and traditional conservatives to desert the party of Trump for a generation — if only the liberal party could speak their language.

But it cannot.

The Democrats eloquently speak the language of compassion, but they refrain from the patois of national interests and honor. If their foes’ actions are cowardly rather than callous, or disloyal rather than barbarous, liberals lack the vocabulary to assail them.

Idiom reflects political instincts, and threats to national institutions and interests do not evoke the gut loathing among liberals that social injustice does. Jonathan Haidt and colleagues provide insight. (See herehere, here, and here.) They outline five “moral foundations of politics.” While their labels have evolved, they may be summarized as care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. Haidt and company find that only the first two (care and fairness) strongly resonate with contemporary liberals. Their moral foundations are more “human” and universal, while conservatives’ affinities for the other three categories (loyalty, authority, sanctity) incline them toward particularistic allegiances, including nationalism.

Trump/Russia is thus not a natural issue for liberals. Running on mercy and social justice while ceding national defense and the flag to the Republicans is ingrained in the Democrats’ post-LBJ muscle memory. When Democrats focus on foreign affairs, they usually aim to wind down wars rather than confront foreign foes. This approach appears consistently, from George McGovern’s 1972 pledge to bring our boys home from Vietnam to Barack Obama’s 2008 plan to withdraw from George W. Bush’s wars.

Since Vietnam, liberals have also lost their taste for running on love of country. The Republicans have wrapped themselves in the flag for so long that some progressives have come to identify it with imperial bullying, electoral blustering, and even ethnic bigotry.

Since Trump/Russia is less about care and fairness than it is about betrayal, subversion, and degradation, progressives are less likely to feel it than they are to feel tax-code rips-offs by the rich. Trump/Russia is also more of an assault on the country as a whole than on vulnerable groups in society. Liberals indeed detest Putin because they see him as supporting Trump, and some know that the Russian president espouses homophobia. But they hardly know how to talk about the penetrationsubversion, and degradation of America’s institutionsnational security, and honor by a foreign enemy and its domestic abettors.

Forceful truth-telling on Trump’s Russia ties comes hard to liberals, most of whom shrink from even calling Putin an enemyTheir discourse leaves them rhetorically unprepared to confront tyrants who beset American institutions, values, and security.

What Would JFK Say?

Liberals used to know how to speak this language. America’s mid-20th Century progressive patriotic patriarchs would take on Putin and Trump as a national security imperative as well as a political no-brainer. Associating nativism with national betrayal in rhetoric and in policy would come naturally to them. While FDR invented Social Security, he smashed fascism. While Harry Truman shored up New Deal reforms, he forged NATO. While JFK enforced desegregation, he stared down Nikita Khrushchev. While LBJ ensured voting rights and created Medicare, he fought the expansion of Soviet influence. These leaders treated the fight against tyranny and inequality as a unified liberal project. Their language conveyed a compelling narrative of progressive patriotism that current liberals lack — one that would resonate in the time of Trump/Russia at least as strongly as it did in the mid-20th Century.

Kennedy habitually tied foreign and domestic threats together, often in the same breath. The parlance of loyalty, authority, and sanctity came as easily to him as the language of fairness and care. In his inaugural address he spoke of “tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself” as “the common enemy of man.” On the campaign trail he inveighed against “the spread of Communist influence, until it festers 90 miles off the coast of Florida, the humiliating treatment of our president and vice president by those who no longer respect our power, the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their farms — an America with too many slums, too few schools, and too late to the moon and outer space.”

Security and honor are tied in these words to compassion. Defeating the tyranny of poverty and the tyranny of communism went hand-in-hand. In touting his program of aid for Latin America, the Alliance for Progress, Kennedy pledged “to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty” while warning “hostile powers” that the United States would “oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas.”

Khrushchev drew Kennedy’s admonitions by merely threatening to subvert the election of free governments in Latin America. Putin has already attacked the election of free governments in the United States and its closest allies in EuropeMany analysts believe that Russia’s intervention may have tilted the election to Trump. Yet too many Democrats stop short of calling it subversion or sabotage. They use the insipid term “meddling.”

Kennedy of course rejected Khrushchev’s denials of involvement in Latin America. Trump and Congressional backers such as Rep. Devin Nunes parrot Putin’s repudiations and show no inclination to prevent further attacks. Kennedy would call that collusion, or much worse. But Trump intones “no collusion” and Democrats wait for Mueller to cue them when it is safe to use the term.

Trump/Russia and Progressive Politics

America’s mid-20th Century Democratic leaders would have little trouble leveraging Trump/Russia to discredit Trumpism as well as Trump. Confronted with formidable external threats, they held fast to the flag while leveraging Americans’ national pride and loathing of foreign tyrants to bolster progressive agendas. Today’s Democrats lack such an overarching progressive-patriotic narrative within which to frame core issues like voter suppression, corruption, and immigration.

To hard-edged, security-minded liberals like JFK and LBJ, the actions of politicians like Trump and Rep. Jim Jordan would make discrediting ethno-national populism almost embarrassingly easy. Jordan does not just ally closely with Trump on restricting immigration and purging voters; he also spearheads House Republicans’ efforts to shut down the Mueller investigation.

In his defense of House Republicans’ successful effort to vote down funding to protect elections from Russian sabotage, which occurred as the Director of National intelligence warned that “the digital infrastructure that serves this country is literally under attack” by Putin’s agents, Jordan proclaimed: “I know what we need for safe and secure elections, and that’s voter ID.”

Not safeguards against Russian interference, said Jordan. Instead, “voter ID” — which in practice reduces voting among nonwhite citizens. The ongoing menace of Russian attacks on American elections (an established fact) merited no special pushback, while the mere possibility of illegal immigrants voting en masse (a Trumpian chimera) required drastic legal action.

Trumpian populism speaks: American sovereignty, security, and greatness in the world can wait, at least until native-born whites recover their supposedly lost greatness at home. Today’s Democrats, lacking the language of loyalty/betrayal and patriotic devotion, do not effectively connect the dots for voters.

Kennedy tied every progressive cause to a jaunty vision of national mission and interests. His bold addresses on civil rights appealed to national pride as well as compassion. Lyndon Johnson attacked color-coded immigration policy as “un-American in the highest sense” as he abolished it with the 1965 Immigration Act.

Current-day Democrats’ mentality and manner of speaking prevents them from spelling out a compelling patriotic logic for liberal immigration policy. Instead, they focus on how it expresses benevolence and promotes diversity.

Consequently, the foreign-born Americans and aspiring citizens who power the nation’s economy and sustain its security from their cubicles at Google and the Pentagon figure far less prominently in the Democrats’ immigration imagery than do undocumented migrant laborers who meet with rough treatment at the hands of ICE. Articulate in critiquing cruelty but tongue-tied in the face of threats to national power and prestige, the liberals struggle to articulate a xenophilic patriotism that exposes how Trump’s commitments to Putin, “voter ID,” and religion-based travel bans disgrace the American nation and compromise its competitiveness.

Responding effectively to Trump/Russia and color-coded nativism does not require that liberals abandon a discourse of compassion and inclusion. It does demand that they articulate a narrative of progressive patriotism that marries the language of care to the harder argot of national interest. Doing so could enable them to effect a deeper blue realignment that would place affordable healthcare and voting rights beyond the next biennial partisan swing. It could also help them discredit rather than merely bemoan white nationalism by casting it as part of a tapestry of Trump’s betrayals.

The fathers of Social Security, NATO, the race to space, civil rights, and Medicare — victors in eight of 10 presidential elections between 1932 and 1968 — provide inspiring clues on how to do it.

M. Steven Fish is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. The views expressed are those of the author alone.

Sizing Up Immigrant Rights—Best Hope In Ballot Box

Less than two weeks after the Trump administration’s arbitrary deadline for Congress to take action on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) came and went with no solution, four veterans of the immigrant rights movement agreed that the outlook is bleak and the challenges are significant. The greatest hope lies in the voting booth –a shift of power out of Republican hands after the November elections – and the fact that those most impacted are taking action to protect themselves and inform others in their communities.

“It’s highly unlikely that Congress is going to pass any relief to benefit young people who make a huge contribution to the country they call home,” said Frank Sharry, Director of America’s Voice in Washington DC.   “Congress and the White House are no friends.”

Sharry was joined by attorney Joshua Rosenthal of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) deputy director Sally Kinoshita, and California Labor Federation field coordinator for southern California Hector Saldivar. The four spoke on a national telebriefing for ethnic media on March 13, hosted by ILRC’s Ready California.

Calling it a “war on immigrants,” Sharry said the  administration aims to “slash immigration by 50%, turbocharge deportations and construct a border wall as wasteful as it is insulting,” He counted five failed bipartisan efforts to provide the “bill of love” the president claimed to want while decreeing the end of DACA.

Democratic leadership, for its part, “despite a lot of effort, a lot of back and forth,” simply “couldn’t cut a deal with a leadership that doesn’t want to make a deal.”

“It’s a cynical, cruel strategy that the White House has pursued,” Sharry said. “Our best hope is that litigation will allow Dreamers to keep their status until hopefully we get a new Congress (in November’s elections).”  If power shifts out of Republican hands, there will be “a much better chance – although not a slam dunk – that legislation will be able to move forward.”

In the meantime, people are forced into “a horrible decision, to stay without papers or leave. We’re hoping to protect as many people as possible, buy them as much time as possible.”

NILC lawyer Rosenthal was also cautious in his assessment of efforts to challenge the Trump campaign through the courts.   “Courts are only able to go so far. They’re not going to be the final answer. We can’t ignore the role of Congress and the states in providing protection for immigrants.”

He cited as good news rulings in California and New York this year that found the Trump administration’s Sept. 5 announcement it would cut off DACA applications a month later to be “arbitrary and capricious.”   When the government tried to fast-track an appeal of those rulings to the Supreme Court, the justices refused to consider taking the case until they had gone through the remaining lower-level appeals courts, meaning that those eligible to renew their DACA status can continue to do so. If they do eventually review the case, their decision wouldn’t arrive until the spring of 2019.

Even then, he added, the injunction “is a limited, temporary form of relief.” It leaves out an important set of people, those unable to receive DACA status prior to the Trump administration’s decision to end the program.

Rosenthal recommended visiting informedimmigrant.com and its Spanish version, immigranteinformado.com, for lists of trustworthy service providers sorted by location for help in applying for DACA, and other information.

With almost a third of  the country’s undocumented immigrants, California has mounted the most comprehensive effort to resist the Trump administration’s “war on immigrants,” declaring itself a sanctuary state.

Sally Kinoshita of ILRC noted that there is no legal definition of the term “sanctuary.” But she cited several state measures that provide some resistance to federal efforts against immigrant communities.   These include SB 54, AB103 and AB540 which respectively restrict the ability of local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement); require the state attorney general to inspect detention facilities operated under contract with the federal government; and require judicial warrants in advance of detentions.

“These laws help to make clear that California is much safer for immigrants,” Kinoshita said.  Despite that, ICE recently launched a four-day campaign in Northern California in which 40% of the more than 200 arrested had no criminal records.  The raids aim to stoke public fear by portraying immigrants as a threat.

Kinoshita noted that the state has budgeted $45 million for immigration education, outreach and legal services.

The state’s Department of Social Services’ website lists 100 nonprofits that receive state funding and have either free or low cost services.  She recommended those in California refer to ready-california.org, with its lists of trusted service providers, trainings and events.

For those all-important screenings, Kinoshita recommended the website immi.org, which enables people to do them anonymously and online.

Hector Saldivar, who coordinates field activities for the California Labor Federation, spoke of increased fear and anxiety throughout immigrant communities. Himself a DACA recipient, he described his own family’s agonizing situation when his mother was recently denied re-entry into the country.

Like Kinoshita, Saldivar praised AB540 for its role in curtailing ICE’s ability to enter work places at will without a judicial warrant. On the ground, he said, forming a network of rapid response units has “provided solidarity and support” for workers facing ICE raids and “silent raids” – audits of a workplace’s I-9 forms that verify workers’ identity and employment authorization.

“This is the most crucial time to go out and show our support,” he said, “particularly for those whose status is secure.  We’re not going to allow them to be picked up or detained and then forgotten.”

Kinoshita agreed. “We can no longer ask those who are most vulnerable to take the most risk.  People who are eligible to naturalize need to do it now,” she said, even if only to vote.

Voting, she said, falls “on the less risky side” of actions people can take and “is so critical.”  “We need Congress to step up. We’re relying heavily on the judiciary and can’t take it for granted.”

Calling the current political climate “one of the darkest chapters in American history,” Frank Sharry said his biggest worry going forward is that “Republicans will maintain control of Congress.”

He’s hopeful, though, that immigration activists are going to prevail, not only in the courts and on the streets, but at the ballot box.

“We’re on the right side of history.”