This past Election Day, I voted for the first time!

This past Tuesday, I voted for the first time! After 12 years of living in the United States, I’m incredibly proud to say I was one of the new voters who participated in the highest midterm election turn out in the past 50 years.

As a new citizen, there was no doubt in my mind over whether I was going to vote or not in the midterm elections: the right to vote was one of my main motivators for applying for citizenship. Whenever I hear a citizen say they don’t vote because they are “not into politics,” it forces me to explain how not voting affects me and my community directly. It’s hard to be a queer immigrant and ignore the daily attacks that Trump and his administration direct towards my friends and family.

I especially think that us millennials have no excuse for not showing up to vote every election. We have technology in our hands most of the day, we are exposed to so many stories coming from social media that cannot be ignored. Every day I read about people being deported or detained, transgender folks being murdered for no reason, people of color falling victims of discriminatory policies or hate crimes and all I can think about is: “I have to do something.” The least I can do is vote, and it has such a big impact on our communities.

I’m not taking my right to vote for granted. I realize that there are 750,000 people like me who are still waiting to get their citizenship applications processed. USCIS hasn’t explained why there is a citizenship backlog, in spite of requests for information and even a lawsuit from advocacy groups. These people were denied the opportunity to vote in this election.

When I became a citizen, I thought of my experience as a win for all of us, for every person in my community. When I cast my first vote this week, I felt empowered because there are thousands of people voting for the same reasons as me, and we won’t be stopped anytime soon.