As I watched the election results, my wife went to bed saying, “I hope I am not waking up under Trump’s presidency.”
At 4 a.m. when I went to bed, I told her, “Trump is the new president.” She looked at me and then closed her eyes without any reaction.
Seconds later, she asked, “What did you say?” I calmed her down and said “Let’s just sleep.” She did, but I couldn’t, as I was creating scenarios in my mind about what would happen to my family in the next few months.
My wife does not have legal status here because she and her parents overstayed their tourist visas when her uncle, an American citizen, had an accident in 2001 and lost the right half of his brain. He was completely paralyzed. He had no one to take care of him; my wife became his legal guardian at the age of 18, and her family decided to stay here to take care of her uncle at the expense of their legal status.
I was imagining what I would do if officials showed up one day at the door to deport her. I decided to prepare an emergency deportation pack for the whole family with important documents, some cash, medicine, clothes, etc. We have two small kids born here. I would tell the officials to deport us all together in such a case.
We are a Muslim family and my wife wears a hijab. I had to tell her to carry some sprays or maybe even a small knife in her bag. I also I remembered an advertisement for a self-defense course for women in our neighborhood. I had to find it in the morning.
What about moving out of the country for a new job? In Canada or Australia?
“What if” scenarios kept coming until I fell asleep. When I awoke later that morning, I felt hopeless, and with a long list of things to do. As it is written at the beginning of my daughter’s favorite book, “The sun did not shine” that morning.
Assistant Professor, School of Education and Human
University of Miami