By Frances Aquino
When I turned 18, I cried because I couldn’t vote. Despite being a green card holder, which did not allow me to vote, I had been one of the most vocal and political people at my school. It hurt me so bad that I was not legally “invited” to speak for myself and for people like me in the elections.
Growing up in Chula Vista as an undocumented Filipina immigrant, I was surrounded by family and classmates who lived in fear. People on TV, even at school, would say that “illegal immigrants” should leave the country. We were forced to be invisible and lacked the rights to make major change in our community. I often wondered what life would be like if we could vote. Would we still live in fear of deportation? Would we finally be recognized and appreciated by our country?
I have lived in the United States for most of my life, followed politics obsessively and even interned in Congress. From kindergarten to 12th grade, I stood up to pledge allegiance to the flag. No matter what I did to prove that I was committed to this country, the U.S. government only saw me as an “alien”.
Today I am 22 years old, and after finally becoming a U.S. citizen, I plan to vote for the first time --or as I like to say, I plan to crash the party that I was never invited to! It’s a party I’ve been wanting to go for many years.
This Tuesday, November 8, I will be crashing the party and voting because there are people, like undocumented immigrants, who can’t vote, who are not invited to the party. They don’t have a say on leaders or laws that affect them, their family, and their loved ones. I know that because that had been me.
This election, I am voting because I don’t want others who don’t care about me and my people to make decisions for us. I’m tired of screaming and shouting while being silenced at the voting booth.
From now on, you can count on me to crash the party every single election.
Frances Aquino has been knocking on doors across San Diego to encourage people to vote as part of Alliance San Diego’s voter mobilization program. She is an undergraduate of Brown University where she studied science and society.