For the past five years, Fernando Gutierrez has felt like the Trump administration used immigrants like him as a “boogie man” to advance its agenda.
“I’m a special ed teacher, I’m gay and I was born in Mexico,” Gutierrez said. “It felt like for the last five years — that’s how long Trump became relevant — he just used people like me as a scapegoat for his agenda.”
Today, Gutierrez, 41, took the day off from work and wrapped his arms around his husband and cried as they watched from their South Loop living room Joe Biden sworn in as president
“So surreal,” Gutierrez said as he stood in front of the television.
Soon Gutierrez and his husband, Matt Schreck, celebrated by standing on their balcony, waiving rainbow, American and Mexican flags while blasting Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”
After four years of hard-line immigration policies, some immigrants like Gutierrez are hopeful the new Biden administration will bring relief to these communities. Biden walks into the White House promising to create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Ali Sharifi Tarokh, 35, of West Ridge, felt so insecure about his accent and name during the Trump era that he decided to change his name when he became a naturalized citizen. Tarokh, a refugee from Iran who arrived in the U.S. in 2012, was able to vote for president for the first time last year.
“[Trump] reminded us that the shadow of fascism is always close to us,” he said. “And we have to watch our democracy every day.”
He had goosebumps this morning just thinking about the inauguration and the change in leadership. He watched the ceremony from his job and felt a sigh of relief.
“It was great to see some dignity to our nation,” he said.