DACA Recipient Who Can’t Vote Encourages Others Who Can

As a DACA recipient, Maria Marquez may not be able to cast a vote herself, but that hasn’t stopped her from being a voting activist in her own community. Maria works with CSPL to educate and inform voters, encouraging people to not take their right to vote for granted.

“There are so many people that are in my situation, and we’ve been waiting for so many years to be important,” Maria shares. “What do we have left? I think encouraging our peers who can vote to do so.”

Video Transcript

Meet Maria: community activist

Maywood, a west Chicago neighborhood

Maria Marquez: So what we’re doing is webinars on Facebook Live, teaching people of the perspectives of different communities and why voting is important for them.

CSPL registers and informs first-time voters, especially if they are Latinx.

Woman on webinar: The last day to register to vote online is October 18th.

Maria: We’re also doing a voter registration pledge, kind of like doing little incentives. 

[Holding up tote bag with quote from Pope Francis] This is one of many. We try to do men and women who have been iconic in activism. Getting people to be engaged and make it fun, you know? It’s encouraging people like, “Yes, you’ve got this. You have the power.”

As a DACA recipient, Maria herself cannot vote.

It’s really frustrating to know that we’re fighting to do something as simple as voting for many years, and there are people who have that privilege and the right to do so, and they don’t care about it.

I know pretty much everything about the country. I went to school here. I graduated college from here. This is literally where I’ve lived my whole life, and so it’s sad that I kind of see this as home, but then I can’t really quite see it as home, because it’s kind of like it ignores me. There are so many people that are in my situation, and we’ve been waiting for so many years to be important. It’s the time now because we see that we are at risk. What do we have left? I think encouraging our peers who can vote to do so.

Maria, speaking in Spanish at census event: I also know that I am tired of hearing people say that as minorities, we don’t count.

Maria was also involved in CSPL’s 2020 census efforts.

The numbers were low 10 years ago, but now I think they’re either reached or almost reached to where the communities need full funding. That’s a really gratifying thing that we were able to help, and we brought the communities together to do so.

[Maria scrolls through Instagram page of UIA] This is your UIA, the Undocumented Immigrant Alliance at Dominican University. This is the organization that I was involved in when I was at Dominican. We were very activist-oriented.

It’s important to remember, especially to those people that can vote, we do not work for those people in power. We do not work for the government. They are supposed to work for us. We have to hold them accountable, and if they’re not doing their job, then the next person is going to do their job, and stuff like that until we get what we need because that’s the power that we have.

Something that we do here at CSPL is building leaders and teaching them how to stand up for themselves if they don’t know, and giving them the voice that they need by doing something about it and not keeping quiet.

Research your candidates, make sure they align with your morals and what you need them to do. And then you’re going to feel accomplished because you know you’re going to give the vote to the person that’s going to do their job correctly in your eyes.

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