'I Want Someone To Say, 'OK, Don’t Be Afraid''
Alejandra Muñoz
Madison, WI

Alejandra Muñoz immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2011.

While she had a green card and was authorized to live and work in the U.S., she was unable to vote.

She remembers when former President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012. Her friends were ecstatic.

"I heard so many people that were so happy when Obama won," Muñoz said, adding that she likely would have voted for him if she could have.

It made her think: "I would like my vote to count someday."

Five years later, Muñoz applied for and became a U.S. citizen.

She was eligible to vote in the 2016 presidential election, and she did.

"It was my first election after becoming a citizen," Muñoz said. "It was a good way to start to count my voice, my vote."

Muñoz, now 29, works as an office coordinator for the Madison-based nonprofit the Literacy Network.

"It was my first election after becoming a citizen," Alejandra Muñoz said. "It was a good way to start to count my voice, my vote."

As another election season comes around the corner, Muñoz is looking for a candidate who is involved in the community, someone who talks to his or her constituents.

Most importantly, she wants to see someone in office who will fulfill the promises they make.

"If they’re taking this position, think of us," Muñoz said. "Whatever they do, think of our community because we elect them to represent us ... it doesn’t matter who you are, if we are Latinos, or if we are U.S. citizens, or residents, it doesn’t matter."

On a state level Muñoz has been frustrated by changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as FoodShare in Wisconsin.

When the FoodShare work requirement was reinstated in 2015, Muñoz noticed the amount she and her four children received each month went down. The reduction has made it so Muñoz has to choose between basic necessities for her family each month.

"We have restrictions because if you want to buy food, you’re not (able) to buy clothes or something like that ... because if the benefits are less, you need to choose," she said. "OK, I need to buy this food, instead of buying a pair of shoes or a dress for your daughter."

When asked what is going on in your community that no one is talking about? Muñoz quickly said immigration.

She said people aren’t avoiding the topic because they don’t care, but because they’re afraid to broach the subject.

"I want someone to say, 'OK, don’t be afraid,'" Muñoz said. "Your voice can count."

"Many people are afraid to talk about it ... because of what they hear about the government," Muñoz said, referring to recent deportations and the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal border crossings into the U.S.

She continued: "We see more deportation in this time than other times ... I know some people who come here and do bad things and I think it’s fair to deport them to their own countries if they do that, but we have other people here who want to work and improve their skills, improve their work, improve their life and these people I think are good. They help our community."

Muñoz would like her elected officials to engage in conversations with those struggling with documentation, without consequence.

"I want someone to say, 'OK, don’t be afraid,'" she said. "Your voice can count."



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