When Trump was elected, our families were worried about the impact that a possible anti-immigrant crackdown could have on our immigrant friends and neighbors, and in particular the Latina women who care for our children at a neighborhood daycare in Washington DC.
A small group of parents started talking about how we could let the staff know that we appreciate them, were upset by the anti-immigrant rhetoric and promised policies during the election, and that we wanted to support them however we could. I want to share my story of finding the right course of action to encourage others to find theirs.
First, we read and discussed the resources that Hand in Hand put out after the election about how to dialogue with targeted people and offer concrete support. We tried to figure out how to best communicate our support to all of the workers without overstepping with the daycare owner (also a Latina immigrant). We also debated whether or not to discuss the issue with the entire parent group, including people whose positions on immigrant issues we did not know.
We ended up deciding not to go to the broader parent group but decided that those of us who were able (mostly based on our ability to communicate in Spanish) would talk to the owner, and other workers as possible, in person. A number of us also included messages in our holiday cards to all the staff last year. Farah had a good conversation with the owner and later a couple staff members, letting them know what that we wanted to make sure that the staff feels supported by the parents, that we were happy to talk about any concerns, and were also happy to provide any information or resources that we could.
Even though they seemed general at the time, it turns out that these conversations opened the door. A couple months later, when a “Day Without An Immigrant” was organized for February, the daycare owner told us that she wished her team could participate. Our families were new to parenting and to the daycare, but Max quickly sent an email to the other parents at the daycare, some of whom we didn’t know yet, to see if they could keep their kids home. A couple people chimed in with offers to take a turn watching any kids whose parents couldn’t rearrange their work schedules. Farah called the parents who did not respond to the email to ensure that they had both gotten the email and were not annoyed or offended.
The response was more enthusiastic than we could have hoped – nearly all the families made alternate arrangements. Even the parents who didn’t get the message in time and did bring in their kids were able to pick them up early. This quick organizing meant that all of the employees of the daycare were able to take the day to protest or mark it as they wished, with only the owner staying to watch the few children who were there for the morning.
We began with the intention of deepening our relationship with the workers who care for our kids, but this experience also brought us closer to the other parents. I was surprised at how supportive they were, and that they were willing to rearrange their schedules on short notice. It also showed the daycare owner and staff that we were with them. As we’ve become closer, we’ve been able to join forces as parents to mark deaths and births in the families of the daycare providers.
Since then, we have been asked to provide resources to answer people’s questions, including info sheets on what to do if ICE comes to the door, and contact information for local groups that provide legal aid. Both of our families are also organizing and protesting to push for justice at a city and national level. We were glad to have the chance to engage more directly with the people we see every day, and to take a small act in solidarity with them.
— Farah, Max, and Jess