OPED: We're marching to defeat Donald Trump

Tribune News Service

We are husband and wife, and this week, we are in Cleveland, protesting the Republican National Convention and the Republican Party's pick for president.

Immigrant rights activists hold up a fabric wall protesting against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as law enforcement officers look on, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.

We both came to this country from Mexico almost 20 years ago in search of a better life. We met in Waukesha, Wis., and together have four beautiful children. In that time, things have gotten harder for undocumented people like us. More immigrants have been deported under President Barack Obama than during any other presidency. Just last month, the Supreme Court blocked a program that would have kept families like ours together and brought hard-working immigrants into the economy legally.

And now there's Trump.

Since Donald Trump declared his candidacy, our family has felt the open racial hostility his campaign encourages. Extremist white supremacist groups are flocking to Trump, whom they credit for bringing their fringe ideas into the mainstream. Racist organizations are also traveling to Cleveland, some even carrying guns. But we will not be intimidated.

We are undocumented, but today we march unafraid. We march to send a message to Trump and the Republican Party: We are going to keep fighting for our families, for our people and for the future of this whole country.

Immigrants pick the food everyone eats. We pay taxes even though we are not eligible for many of the services our taxes provide. A 2009 study found that 40 percent of Wisconsin's dairy workers were immigrants. Working families, including immigrants, not Trump, are who make this country great.

For us, this campaign is very personal. Trump's election would be a disaster for our family and for millions like us. And it's not only immigrants he has sought to scapegoat.

Immigrant rights activists protest against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Wednesday, July 20, 2016, in Cleveland, during the third day of the Republican convention.

We also have a message for Muslims, African-Americans, for women and the LGBT community, for those concerned about global warming, and for all people disgusted by Trump's bigotry: Let's stand together. Let's fight together for a world where no one is discriminated against.

We also want to reach the white people Trump is targeting with the old divide-and-conquer rhetoric of past demagogues. We want to tell white working-class people that we are not your enemy. So-called free trade policies have caused economic hardship in rural Mexico similar to that seen in former industrial strongholds like Milwaukee. Trump himself profits from cheap goods made overseas.

Trump preaches racism instead of responding to the real needs of working families. He has no plan to create well-paying jobs, support underfunded schools or expand access to college and health care. All working-class people, regardless of background, need a government that responds to the needs of our families.

Our message has a second part: Vote! We are marching today to save our country, and on Nov. 8, we want you to vote. For the sake of all our children, we must defeat this racist man and the dangerous ideas he represents.

— Jose Flores, a 38-year-old factory worker, and his wife, Maria, a 39-year-old stay-at-home mom, are both undocumented immigrants from Mexico who have four children — all U.S. citizens — and are longtime residents of Waukesha, Wis. They are active in their church and in the movement for immigrant and worker rights.