Things That Matter

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Made Me Second Guess My Choice To Get My Master’s Abroad But I Persist

This Election Day I watched in disbelief as the candidate who I thought had no chance clinched the presidency of the United States. I was in China completing my second master’s degree as a Schwarzman Scholar when the polls closed. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, tears ran down my face as I thought about what the results could mean for my family and me.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Donald Trump vowed to rescind DACA on day one. I took his word and returned to the United States before his inauguration. I had been paroled six times into the United States, entering through five different cities. My level of anxiety was higher this time because of the vitriolic rhetoric directed at “illegal” immigrants like me during the presidential campaign. My heart raced as the customs officers summoned me for questioning. That moment I understood that I had grown complacent as the inspection process became routine to me.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

DACA brought stability to young lives marked by uncertainty, emancipating over 750,000 dreamers like me from the threat of deportation and allowing us to gain legal employment. For many of us, DACA also became the push we needed to rise above the limitations imposed by our immigration and socio-economic status to accomplish extraordinary things. Propelled by curiosity and a desire to improve myself, I sought a place in academic programs that took me to ten different countries in four continents in the past three years. I have visited iconic sites like the Great Wall Of China, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia, and Big Ben in London.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

I have walked on the same grounds as Aristotle in The Acropolis of Athens, the birthplace of democracy. I basked in the grandeur of the Forbidden City of China, a place rarely seen by people for four hundred years. I walked the same cobble streets as Isaac Newton once did, and I enjoyed three-course meals draped in traditional college robes inside centuries-old buildings as a student at the University of Cambridge. As I traveled, I often thought about the improbability of my position. I felt the weight of my privilege when I thought about the thousands of students who applied for these opportunities and of the many more who did not. Yet, here I was.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Reentry into the United States was never guaranteed. I knew I was taking an enormous risk every time I boarded an outbound flight. However, the thought of the impact I would be able to have on the lives of those less privileged empowered with the experiences, knowledge, and relationships I would gain abroad filled my spirit with courage.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

It is now clear that we have entered a new political environment. President Trump’s executive orders are already taking a toll on immigrant and refugee families. Could DACA be his next target? Forget the detrimental economic impact on the nation if DACA is repealed. The intangible impact of repeal is equally as important. We are no longer children. We are young adults with the capacity and the desire to positively contribute. Without work authorization, what are we to do? Continue accumulating college degrees in hopes of one day being able to put them to use? President Trump and the congressional Republican leadership must cease mercilessly playing with our futures.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

Being selected a Schwarzman Scholar was the culmination of a lifetime of academic preparation and persistence in the face of linguistic, financial, and legal challenges. Now I am confronted with the choice of continuing my hard-earned education in China or risk losing my life in the United States. As frustrating as this situation is, it is not unique for me. Like other undocumented students, I have had to take detours on my path to realizing my dreams. Nothing has been easy or given to me. This is no different. The familiarity of this situation does not make it any less frustrating. With or without DACA, we must not desist demanding a permanent place in this country. The alternative is simply inconceivable.

Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra
CREDIT: Carlos Adolfo Gonzalez Sierra

The recent protests in support of refugees and immigrant families have strengthened my conviction that, despite the actions of the president, the majority of Americans believe that we belong. The fight for American’s soul is only beginning. For my undocumented friends still in the shadows, now it is not the time to hide. We must do our part to support those at the vanguard of this struggle by organizing ourselves and giving others the strength to do the same through the power of our stories.


READ: My Name Is Cindy. I’m Undocumented. I Can Make A Difference.

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Here Are The Executive Actions That President Biden Is Signing His First Day In Office

Things That Matter

Here Are The Executive Actions That President Biden Is Signing His First Day In Office

Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool / Getty Images

President Joe Biden has a lot of work ahead of him and he is hitting the ground running. On his first day in office, President Biden has a series of executive actions he is signing to reverse a lot of the damage created by the Trump administration. Here are some of the things President Biden will do with these actions.

The border wall on the southern border is done, y’all.

President Biden is saving the taxpayers billions of dollars by halting the construction of President Trump’s border wall. The border wall is one of former President Trump’s several unfulfilled promises at the expense of the taxpayers.

Despite his unrelenting campaign, Mexico never paid a dime to the wall. President Biden’s action to halt the border wall is a humanitarian and conservationist move that will save billions of tax dollars. According to estimates, there would be $3.3 billion in unused funds in the projects accounts.

The emotionally devastating Muslim ban will finally come to an end.

Former President Trump famously put an end to travel from predominantly Muslim countries. The order arbitrarily excluded a group of people based on their religion. The order that has kept families apart for years is finally coming to an end thanks to President Biden.

President Biden’s ation will bring families together and safeguards the rights of religious freedom. The ban has kept spouses separated, children apart from parents, and caused real damage. There is more to be done to make up for the stain on American history and the action is the first step.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is toast.

We all remember the terrifying scenes of Native people being brutalized by federal officials under Trump’s command. President Biden will make sure that the permit for the pipeline is revoked and put an end to a project that has been devastating the Native community. Activists have been fighting for years to get this done.

Undocumented people will have to be included in census counts.

President Biden is getting rid of the Trump administration’s terrible policy of ignoring undocumented people in the census. There have been several arguments by officials that the move would work to undermine certain states. The policy would take federal money away from states that did not support the former president and have high undocumented populations.

President Biden is going to preserve DACA.

More than 600,000 people benefit from the Obama-era program. Former President Trump waged a war against DACA and Dreamers for political points. Most Americans support DACA and a pathway to citizenship for DACA beneficiaries. With the new executive action, President Biden will instruct the federal government to restore the program to its fullest.

There is still a lawsuit the Biden administration will have to fight. The lawsuit challenging DACA’s legality was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In total, President Biden will sign 17 executive actions that will roll back several issues created by the previous administration.

“Today, hours after taking the oath of office, President-elect Biden will take a historic number of actions to deliver immediate relief for families across America that are struggling in the face of converging crises. He will sign a combination of executive orders, memoranda, directives, and letters to take initial steps to address these crises, including by changing the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing economic relief, tackling climate change, and advancing racial equity,” reads a statement from the Biden-Harris Transition Team. “President-elect Biden will take action — not just to reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration — but also to start moving our country forward. These actions are bold, begin the work of following through on President-elect Biden’s promises to the American people, and, importantly, fall within the constitutional role for the president.”

READ: President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

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President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

Things That Matter

President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in as the 46th president and the 49th vice president of the United States of America. The new administration has been sworn in and the inauguration was a beautiful representation of America with people of color and women taking center stage.

Lady Gaga kicked off the 59th inauguration by singing the national anthem.

In 2017, Lady Gaga famously participated in the Women’s March the day after former President Trump’s inauguration. Four years later, the singer proudly took to the Capitol to usher in the beginning of the Biden/Harris administration. Dressed in custom Schiaparelli, Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and left people speechless.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

This was a special moment. The first Latina to ever serve on the Supreme Court was the one to swear in the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian vice president. It was a historical moment that will forever change the United States.

Justice Sotomayor has made a name for herself in American pop culture because of her blistering dissents. As the first Latina on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor opened possibilities for Latinas. We basically watched one icon swear in another icon and it is everything.

The most exciting moment of the inauguration might have been Jennifer Lopez and her remix of an American classic.

Lopez sang “This Land Is Your Land” but added a special twist. During the song, Lopez stops and says, “Una nacion, bajo de dios, indivisible con libertad y justicia para todos.” Translated, she said, “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” That’s right. The Puerto Rican pop superstar used her moment at the nation’s Capitol building to give a shout out to all the Latinos who call the U.S. home.

Of course, the most iconic moment was J.Lo shouting “Let’s get loud.”

We all know that song. We are all singing it now after reading those three words. It was truly one of the most impactful moments of her performance. Only an icon could turn “This Land is Your Land” into a greatest hits medley. We are all better for having witnessed it.

However, it was 22-year-old Amanda Gorman that stole the entire show.

The Youth Poet Laureate was chosen to speak at the inauguration and she youngest inaugural poet of all time. She joins the impressive ranks of Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco, and Elizabeth Alexander. Her poem, written right after the Capitol riot. It was relevant, poignant, and moving.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.”

And, of course, Joseph Robinette Biden became the 46th president of the United States of America.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country,” President Biden said. “It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

“The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity.”

Welcome to the White House President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

READ: The TikToker Who Put Fleetwood Mac Back On The Charts Will Perform At The Inauguration’s Virtual Parade

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