When I was leaving El Salvador in 2000, after the civil war, I came to the United States for a better life for my family. Long Island has become my home, but, as a working, immigrant mother and grandmother, it has not been easy. The economy sputters and the cost of living goes up. Our wages stagnate, with the minimum wage remaining a paltry $8 per hour. And politicians want to cut school budgets in high-need communities to make up for unaffordable tax-cuts for millionaires. Things like this make us worried about our future.
But I’m committed to making a change with my community, and that’s why I’m voting on Tuesday, November 4th.
I’m voting to send a message that my community demands good schools. When I think about my six-year old granddaughter, who goes to school in a district whose funding has been on the chopping block in Albany year after year because of Republican proposed cuts, I get the chills.
I’m voting to send a message that my community demands a fair minimum wage that Long Islanders can actually live on. Allegedly “pro-business” conservative politicians stand in the way year after year, because they refuse to see many of us as deserving of a chance to make it.
I’m voting to send a message that my community demands the NY DREAM Act, so all students, regardless of immigration status, can go to college. Like increasing the minimum wage, the DREAM Act would help improve economic opportunity on Long Island because it would help young people to get the education they need to realize their dreams and help our economy grow.
For these reasons and more, this Tuesday, November 4th, I’m voting for my family and my community tomorrow. With our community coming together to vote, we can safeguard Long Island’s future by fighting against school cuts, working to raise the minimum wage, and passing the NY State DREAM Act. If we stand united as a community, vote on our issues, and come out in force, we can be the deciding factor in this midterm year, and our voice will be heard.
Maria Magdalena Hernández is a member of Make the Road Action Fund. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Long Island Wins.