Ibenia Bobola, 35, came to the U.S. from El Salvador over a decade ago. She was 21 years old and had a young daughter. With residency papers in hand, Bobola took on multiple jobs; from working at a potato chip factory, to making sushi, to now working at a bank. 

And recently, Bobola became a U.S. citizen.

"Once you do go in front of the judge and you swear to fight for America, you feel that now America is part of me," Bobola said. "You adopt the country and the country adopts you. It's good."

Her decision to apply for citizenship was one that came out of fear after President Trump got elected in 2016. She had another daughter by then and Bobola was scared that Trump’s immigration policies could get her and her kids sent back to El Salvador even though they were legal residents.

But with the security of citizenship, Bobola will be heading to the polls on Tuesday to vote for president for the first time. She was thinking about voting for former Vice President Joe Biden despite being against abortion. And then, she heard Biden’s tax plan.

"Once he said that he was going to higher the tax to whoever [makes over] $400K, which I'm like me and my family, if I think I’m growing in life, it’s something that's not as hard as you think," Bobola said. "That was a deal breaker for me."

Bobola is also disappointed in rising healthcare costs, saying her family pays around $800 a month in health insurance and still doesn’t have doctor visits completely covered. Biden, she said, will keep everything the way it is. 

So now, Bobola, who pushed to get citizenship for her and her child because of fear of a Trump-presidency is considering a vote for President Trump. And it’s not just because he’s the only other option.

Bobola supports some of Trump’s decisions, including those he made around securing the border. 

"There is a lot of people that come to the U.S., because there is bad things happening in their countries, right?," Bobola said. "But there's others that come here to hide. Not everyone that crosses the border are good people. And I do understand him because he was trying to protect his country."

And, she said, the economic boom seen during Trump’s first term has directly benefited her.

"Money-wise, this past four years, it has been a lot better for me," Bobola said. "We’re getting a lot of raises, modifications and all that. And that's because the economy was doing so good. So [President Trump] must be doing something good."

Bobola doesn't agree with all of Trump's policies. She doesn’t think using taxpayer funds to build a wall on the Mexico border will do anything to keep out criminals. And she’s angry that kids at the border were put in cages and separated from their families under his administration. 

It’s why it’s not a sure-deal that she'll vote for him.

"I understand where he's coming from," Bobola said. "He doesn't have the right words, he doesn't express himself the right way. I'm not defending him. I'm not saying he's the best person, not even close. But I do get why people voted him in."

In the end, Bobola believes, the president acts and makes decisions based on the needs of the majority of people who voted for him. 

For Bobola and her family, her priorities will be focused on taxes, healthcare, and economic prosperity.  

But she understands everyone doesn’t have the same priorities.

"It's understandable that they obviously have different point of view in for the election, but it doesn't make anybody stupid," Bobola said. "We have to respect the way everybody wants to live. But at the end of the day is going to win is the majority. And that's why we have to vote to put yourself out there."

Bobola said she could very well vote for a third party candidate on Tuesday. 

All she knows for sure is that her vote won’t be going to Joe Biden. 


Nadine Sebai is the South Coast Bureau Reporter for The Public's Radio. She can be reached at nsebai@thepublicsradio.org or (508) 441-4636.