These immigrants can’t vote. So they’re working hard to influence those who can


On Sept. 5 2017, the Trump administration announced the end of a program that protects undocumented immigrants who arrived as children, known as DACA and started by the Obama administration in 2012.

That date was crucial for Maria, a domestic worker and native of Argentina who lives in Miami-Dade and has two children, 21 and 23 years old, who are among the 800,000 beneficiaries of DACA.

“That Sept. 5 I said, ‘I have to do something. I have to contribute my two cents for the change I want to see,” said Maria, who asked to be identified only by her first name because she’s undocumented. “There’s a big risk for us. The risk of losing my children’s education, the house, everything we have built here.”

That’s how Maria, who arrived on a tourist visa in 2000 and overstayed it to settle in Miami because of an economic crisis in Argentina, wound up working to turn out the vote in the midterm elections.

Maria cannot vote, but has knocked on dozens of doors around Miami to urge those who can to vote.

She’s part of a growing number of people who cannot vote because they are undocumented or green card holders but are hitting the streets to urge voters to cast their ballots.

Their goal is to persuade voters to support candidates who promise to protect immigrants, because they understand that their future in this country is at risk and depends on those votes. Although President Donald Trump is not on the ballot, they are working to turn the midterm elections into a referendum on presidential policies and rhetoric they view as anti-immigrant.

“It’s something we have seen before, people who cannot vote working to get out the vote. But this year, we’re seeing impressive numbers,” said Andrea Cristina Mercado, executive director of New Florida Majority, which works to increase electoral participation among communities of color.

More from the Miami Herald