February 1st was the culmination of everything Cecilia Martinez had put in so many long hours for over the past 6 months. Martinez sits on the floor with other Bernie Sanders supporters and waits for the final results. “Sanders wins with four delegates, followed by Clinton with three. Thank you all for caucusing today.” But after all the work done, Martinez’s vote wasn’t counted.
Martinez is a first- year student here who has taken advantage of the opportunities that have come their way. Martinez doesn’t identify within the gender binary and prefers the pronouns they/them as a neutral option. Martinez got involved in the Bernie Sanders campaign after being introduced to one of the leaders through the College Democrats on campus. They have thrived as a volunteer ever since.
“The reason I’m passionate about being able to elect the right person is because it is going to affect me and so many other people in a big way. I can’t help but be a part of it,” Martinez said.
Martinez doesn’t have the privilege of expressing their hopes for our country in a vote because of their undocumented immigrant status. And depending on who is elected, the opportunity of staying in the country could be taken away, leaving them with few options and high uncertainty.
Martinez’s parents brought both of their children to America when Martinez was just 6 months old. They decided to abandon their home in Mexico in order to pursue a better life for both them and their children.
“The fact that I’m in college right now and doing what I’m doing proves that what my parents did was worth it,” Martinez said.
Currently, Martinez is protected by one of President Obama’s executive orders; the Deferred Act for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Because Martinez was so young when they were brought into the country the President believes that Martinez, and others like them, did not have a choice when entering the country illegally and are therefore granted more privileges. These privileges include a social security card, a work permit, the opportunity for education and the ability to renew these privileges every two years. While the act is controversial, Martinez is thankful for the opportunity, despite its limitations.
Despite the tumultuous climate surrounding her status, Martinez is thriving at Simpson so far and in her work on the Sanders campaign. Martinez volunteers for the campaign by canvassing, making calls and helping to organize a precinct.
“It is a privilege to be this involved,” they said. Martinez even had the honor of introducing Sanders when he was on campus last year.
Martinez looks forward to the future and hopes that Sanders gets the nomination and wins the election in November. They hope to be a career lawyer in order to fight for immigration reform. Although, unfortunately without citizenship, they could not practice law.
Martinez hopes that people will get out and vote in the primaries and in the election. “That’s the opportunity that we, they have as citizens.” Even with the lack of a vote, Martinez contributes more than some citizens to civic engagement. By educating people, volunteering and sharing their story Martinez demonstrates the significance of a vote and the duty that we all have to use it.
By Olivia Samples