They spent the first hours of Donald Trump's presidency waiting.
First they were in the cold, snaked outside McCaw Hall. A little boy seemed desperate to splash in a nearby water feature. Then they waited inside—for hours—as volunteers distributed snacks, waiting themselves for instructions.
They waited for one-on-one legal advice offered at a special event organized by the City of Seattle. They were waiting to become citizens.
Here’s what event attendees and volunteers we spoke to said:
“I could always leave but I want to stay here and fight for the rights of immigrants, minorities and women.”
—Phillip Harris of Seattle. He is a citizen of the United Kingdom.
“I think it’s going to be the same [under a Trump presidency]. No point in freaking out. There’s not much we can do but raise a family. In 2007 or ’08, we couldn’t find jobs. Right now there’s work. That may change.”
—Jesus of Marysville. He told us he is a permanent resident from Mexico. He declined to give his last name.
“I’m saving more money and spending less, in case the economy goes bad.”
—Jamie Garcia of Issaquah, permanent resident. He came to the U.S. from Guatemala in 1996 seeking asylum.
“If they come for one of us, they come for all of us!”
—Briana Frenchmore of Rainier Valley. She is an immigration paralegal and activist.
“My wife is such a big Trump supporter because she has sisters who have had to wait like 10 years to get their visas to immigrate to the US [from France]. She hates to see people who just come across the borders. It’s not really fair to those that wait and come in legally.”
—Bill Abrigo of Snohomish. His daughters are applying for citizenship.
“I don’t want to take my chances with the new president.”
—Luis Sombrano of Seattle. A permanent resident from Mexico, he is applying for U.S. citizenship after 30 years.
“I have a lot of family that is undocumented…I fear for them.”
—Luis from Mexico. He is applying for citizenship.
“I’m terrified…I’m terrified. The only real hope I have is that…we come together.”
—Wimsey Cherrington of Seattle. A U.S. citizen, she came to this event as a volunteer.
“I’m not worried. It’s easy for me to get a job. I don’t really prefer [Trump’s] personality, but I think he’s going to do a good job. I think so. […] Hopefully they will give us a chance, especially for people that want to go to school like me.”
—Voltaire Belleza of Seattle. He is a permanent resident from the Philippines