Claudia Galicia was one of thousands of demonstrators who marched in protest of Donald Trump and his immigration proposals on Sunday.
Wearing a NY Giants cap and holding a pink "Sunset Park, Brooklyn" sign, she described the "half and half" nature of her family's documentation. Some had papers, some didn't.
Galicia, 35, says she moved here from Mexico when she was 13 and eventually got a green card. She says she made calls to Florida Hispanic voters and knocked on doors in Pennsylvania for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Now she’s reconciling herself to the reality of a Trump presidency.
She didn't know yet exactly what Trump intends for the undocumented portions of her family, but she said her children — citizens — were concerned their mother or grandmother might be deported.
"What we're going through, it's more psychological," she said.
Just then, a demonstrator marching behind looked up from his cellphone. "Oh wow," he said — Trump had announced Republican Party chairman Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, and Stephen Bannon, former head of alt-right, white nationalist favorite Breitbart News as key advisor.
Trying to read the tea leaves
Over the weekend, some details about the Trump administration started falling into place, even as thousands took to the streets across the city and country. Trump seems to be continuing his practice of talking out of both sides of his mouth, giving just enough to mollify both moderate and radical supporters. That strategy isn't calming people in the streets.
In naming Priebus his chief of staff, for example, he placed the Republican party loyalist in the traditional power seat, hinting at a business-as-usual, if very conservative, Republican administration. Yet Bannon, whose ex-wife alleged in court records that he was concerned about his daughters going to school with Jews, will serve in a prominent — and possibly equal — role in the administration.
As the NYC march, organized in part by immigration advocacy groups, approached Trump Tower, news was still filtering throughout the crowd about the president-elect’s most recent comments on immigration.
In a pre-taped segment for CBS News’s “60 Minutes,” Trump vowed to deport what he said were the two or three million immigrants with criminal records beyond living in the country without documents. He said he’d come to a decision about the rest of the approximately 11 million after dealing with border security.
To Galicia, that sounded somewhat similar to what Obama was already doing, with further action ominous but deferred. But with Trump’s promises during the election, she wasn’t inclined to wish for the best. She said she and other Sunset Park-based organizers were “working to inform people of their rights,” when dealing with immigration agents.
“This election was a wakeup call.”
Wondering what to do now
Demonstrators and organizers at the march discussed the importance of preparing legal resources and organizing the Hispanic community. They applauded Mayor Bill de Blasio's affirmation of NYC's status as a sanctuary city offering protections to immigrants. But it’s difficult for many to know exactly what to do now, as Trump continues oscillating back and forth in tone and promises.
The Sunday march, more organized than others since Election Day, had a similar feel to the People’s Climate March in 2014. Both were shows of organizational power, diverse constituencies and resolve. Perhaps such displays will have the desired warning effect. We’ve already seen the more agile, loosely framed #notmypresident street takeovers have gotten under Trump’s skin.
For some at the march on Sunday, it was about just showing up, for themselves or those who couldn’t.
A 24-year-old woman who gave only an acronym of her name, Amy, said she had benefited from Obama’s immigration relief, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She was brought here as an infant and has been able to work a legal job at a university due to DACA. During the campaign Trump opposed the program, which Amy says would mean she’d “once again be invisible”: Working off the books, paperless.
For Brian Garrido, who also benefited from DACA, he and his girlfriend and brother represented the rest of their large family, many of them undocumented and too afraid ICE agents would be at the march itself.
On election night, he says he came home from work as a cashier at Taco Bell to find his family discussing the future, gathering papers and documentation information so they’d be prepared to go back to Mexico if Trump made it impossible to stay.
“I would go with my family,” Garrido, 21, says. “I’m not going to be in a country where people don’t like Spanish people.”
His girlfriend nervously chewed her scarf as the march circled back to Columbus Circle, heading into day six of the Trump ascendancy.