“I don’t think they have American citizenship and if you speak to some very, very good lawyers–you’re going to find out they do not have American citizenship.”
–Donald Trump on babies born in the United States to undocumented immigrant parents
Like everyone across the United States, I’ve been inundated with images of Donald Trump spouting hostile warnings to the American public–if you don’t elect me president and let me transform immigration policies, the Mexicans are going to take over this country. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve grown not only disgusted with his red hat and squinty eyes, but disturbed that the lowest common denominator in the United States is finding inspiration in his vitriolic ramblings.
How did hate speech (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.) become acceptable fodder for political debate? And what does it say about the American public that his poll numbers rise the more he digs his feet in the ground and refuses to apologize for his remarks?
In a New Yorker article from July titled “American Limbo,” Jeffery Toobin describes the plight of Olga Flores, a Mexican immigrant that moved to the United States in search for a better life. Though Trump might refer to her as one of the “good people,” hearing her story allowed me to see the complexities of this issue and the humanity at stake. If we simply refer to human beings as “illegals” or the children born on American soil as “anchor babies,” we’re sacrificing our human decency and allowing hate to swallow our culture.
Toobin’s objective in writing the article is to reveal that Obama has been tougher on immigrants than the Republicans were under Bush. And though Obama is attempting to institute an initiative called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), he’s met great resistance since Trump made immigration a hot button issue. If DAPA were to pass, undocumented parents of American citizens would be able to file for work permits and would have the potential to raise their children while maintaining a living wage.
The future of DAPA hangs in the next presidential election. Hillary Clinton would support it and then some, stating that, “We can’t wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship.” Young people need to realize that their futures and their families’ futures hang in the next election and vote accordingly.
The focus of my groups project, On the Precipice of Hope, is “J,” an American citizen with undocumented parents. If DAPA were to pass, her mother would be able to legally work in the United States and wouldn’t have to manage three jobs to keep her family functioning. J would be able to focus on school without worrying about her mother’s potential breakdown.
In a strange way, I wish Donald Trump or even just his supporters could sit in a room with J and the many other students I have that work harder and have overcome more than the privledged class they come from. Their cowardly words only have power on a stage full of like-minded people. Trump and those that agree with him would eat their words and backtrack. The immigrants I know work their tails to the bone to raise children that will most definitely contribute to society in fantastic and wonderful ways.
I hope the voting public comes out loud and proud in 2016, standing up against this sort of blanket racism that has somehow become a rallying cry. And I hope that my students that have to face off against this sort of hate on a day to day basis will be able to prove their naysayers wrong.
What do you think about the potential of DAPA passing? Please tweet #DAPA to @cullinational on Twitter.