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Young, undocumented, and getting out the vote

Walking the streets of Coachella, California, Maria Jose Rodriguez is canvassing for an election in which she can't vote.

Rodriguez is 24 years old, old enough to cast a ballot, but her immigration status means she can't take part.

That's not stopping her from a mission to mobilize her community to get out and vote.

"It feels like you're shouting at the top of your lungs, but nobody can hear you. You know, because I know for a lot of undocumented people, it's kind of normalize for us to be like in the shadows, you know. Just keep your head down, go to work, mind your own business."

Coachella is an area largely home to Latinos and mixed status families.

Rodriguez herself was born in Michoacan, Mexico and brought into the U.S when she was four.

Her status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or 'DACA', gives temporary relief from deportation for some young undocumented immigrants and it allows them authorization for work.

Rodriguez is able to work and go to school and she's currently purusing a career in psychology at UC Riverside.

But she says being shut out of decisions that affect all Americans is disheartening.

Fellow canvasser Vanessa Moreno is also a DACA benficiary and she agrees it's not easy.

"It is frustrating because it's that, you know, like paper, that just piece of paper that is preventing me from, you know, voting. But I feel I'm also hopeful that in the future, I will, I will vote. And I know that. But, I know right now I'm not going to wait for that moment. I'm gonna do whatever it takes to make sure that other communities are voting."

Lesly Figueroa is running for Mayor of the City of Coachella in November.

She says she that the work that Rodriguez and Moreno are doing as volunteers in her campaign is critical, since historically the region has a low voter turnout.

"I think it means a lot to me for them to be so active and so, you know, wanting to make sure that other residents who can vote participate in their local democracy, right?"

And Moreno has a message for U.S President Donald Trump, who says people like her make up a movement that he may have underestimated.

"We can't vote, but we have a voice and we are able to use our voice to push others, to motivate others to vote for us."