Coachella Valley Region
"Even having a conversation about the wall makes people incredibly nervous," says Karen Borja.
Borja is with Inland Congregations for Change, a non profit community action group that operates out of Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella. She says there’s a large undocumented community living among us who are afraid of what President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration could mean for them and their families.
"From Palm Springs all the way to North Shore and Oasis there are undocumented families that are working very hard and when we mention something like a wall it sends fear to our families it sends a message that we are trying to separate who belongs and who does not belong even though they are already here," adding that the undocumented population contribute greatly to the economy as many work on local farms, "Riverside County receives more than half a billion dollars worth of revenue from the agriculture that is generated just in the Coachella Valley alone and so that is one of the big economic impacts that our families … make.
Borja says right now families should not be worried about the wall, instead act on DACA, the policy that deferred deportation to students who came to the U.S. as children, "The wall is not incredibly tangible but something like a DACA program that already exists that is where we should be putting some concern and focus."
For now she advises undocumented immigrants to have a plan, like extra savings and emergency contacts, "In case of deportations, in case DACA gets pulled out."
Despite the fears Borja says the community is united and full of hope and the Guadalupe Day march where many dedicated their walk for the undocumented is proof, "Having a public display of faith in such a strong way like a 26 mile march with thousands of people is a very profound message to our communities that you do not stand alone."
Borja says those living in the shadows do belong, "They are part of this America, they are building our country and they are contributing locally to our community."