“If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, crawl; but by all means keep moving.” I’ve reflected on this Martin Luther King, Jr. quote a lot over the past few weeks as the Latino and immigrant communities have come together to discuss what the future looks like for immigration reform and how we protect the diversity of our nation. We are a nation of immigrants, after all. That fact is embedded in our founding—it is the crux of America’s story.
In the month that’s passed since the presidential election, we’ve seen an onslaught of hate crimes and what has become commonplace discrimination. While President-elect Trump’s message resonated with some who felt forgotten and sought a leader who would bring dramatic change to Washington, others clung to Mr. Trump’s racist and fear-mongering narrative. He called Mexicans criminals and rapists, he promised to strip Muslim Americans of their Constitutional rights, he bragged about sexually assaulting women, and he mocked disabled Americans. In spewing this hate, Mr. Trump normalized xenophobia, racism, misogyny and all forms of discrimination.
Given this fearful climate created by Mr. Trump, there is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty in our country. This is particularly true among the immigrant community, which was constantly attacked and villainized by Mr. Trump. While I cannot tell you what the Trump Administration will do in the months and years ahead, I can tell you what I will do: I will fight for you. I will not back down, nor will I compromise your futures and your freedom. I will work with our local, state and federal leaders to ensure that families are kept together and that immigrants always have a safe place in our community.
But I’m going to need your help. Going forward, one of our most important responsibilities is to our children, who are watching and listening. We cannot sink to the level that those who try to tear us down would like. As First Lady Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” Our kids are watching us, and that has never been clearer than today. For their sake, we need to rise above.
Over fifty years ago, Dr. King told us we need to “keep moving.” And that is exactly what we’ll do.
–Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino) 31st Congressional District