It’s a school night and inside Maria Vargas’ Fresno home -- she asked us not to use her real name -- the sounds of four lively kids fill the kitchen and dining area. The toddler is babbling and dumping pens out of a container. One daughter is taking a break from her homework to retell the story of why her mom is so afraid of snakes (she was taking out the trash when she was little and a snake slithered out). Another is begging her mom to read to her. And the older son is getting ready to go to church with his dad.
But when the topic turns to the recent election, all the kids -- except for the littlest one -- start talking about one person: Donald Trump.
All four kids were born in the United States, but their parents are from Mexico. And they’ve heard Trump say a lot of things about Mexicans.
In fact, Trump has been part of the family conversation for so long that Vargas’ younger daughter thinks her mother knows Trump personally.
“I think my mom knowed him since she was little,” she says. But Vargas gently corrects her. “I knew Donald Duck but not Donald Trump,” she says.
Vargas and her husband are undocumented. And with Trump’s election, they question their future here. They’ve been in the United States for about 15 years. They work hard. They pay taxes.
“We don’t live off the system,” says Vargas. “We work for whatever we have.” They’d like to be residents. But now, she says, that’s unlikely. The family had been hoping that Clinton would be elected and take on immigration reform, and that eventually they could get some kind of residency.
"All those hopes are gone because he said, 'No, I’m just gonna deport all the people. They’re lazy people. Just stealing, drug dealers.' I’m like, ‘really, hmmm, OK.' "
Vargas is afraid of being deported because Trump has made so many references to deporting people from Mexico who aren’t documented. Her 9-year-old daughter says she worries about her parents and other people she knows.
“We don’t know what he might do with them. He might send them back. We just don’t know,” she says. And then she takes a stance. “If he’s gonna do that, we should fight back and we shouldn’t just stand around. Us children need to do something about this world."
In fact, on the night of the election, the 9-year-old started packing a bag. Like her siblings, she’s never even been to Mexico, but she figured she better get ready.
Vargas says she also worries that overt racism will become more common under a Trump presidency. "He just put all this hate toward people coming from other countries because they don’t speak the language or they have different color skin."
The 9-year-old says a former neighbor told her she hated Mexicans. Vargas hopes these kinds of comments don’t increase.
She turns to her daughter. "Nobody has the right to treat you that way. You’re not less than no one. Nobody has the right to treat you like nothing," she says gently.
Vargas’ older son says he’s not scared. He’s taking a wait-and-see approach with Trump.
“We have to see what he’s doing first to understand what his real plan is for the country.”
And maybe that’s the hardest part -- waiting.