Every immigrant is American

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Courtesy of Creative Commons

Charlie Lahud-Zahner

Bringing reality to Trump’s rhetoric

 

President Donald Trump is an infamous man among Mexican-Americans. Sure, most people are familiar with the President of the United States. But Latinos (whom Trump seems to think are only Mexicans) know him differently.

“They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Trump’s public war with Mexican immigration can arguably be traced back to this quote, mentioned in his public declaration of his candidacy for the presidency in June 2015. Since then, he has consistently made disparaging remarks toward the Mexican government and the “crisis” of immigration.

Most recently, the topic of immigration has come into the forefront of American politics as the partial government shutdown rages on. Last week, Trump made a primetime television performance in order to pitch the importance of building a wall on the United States’ southern border.

Within Donald Trump’s presidential address on Jan. 8, he made a small but important, distinction between illegal aliens and legal immigrants.

While a legal immigrant “enrich[es] our society and contribute[s] to our nation,” Trump characterized illegal immigration as a “crisis of the soul” and illegal immigrants as violent murderers, rapists and members of MS-13.

Furthermore, it should be acknowledged that Trump specifically used the word alien as a negative rhetorical device when discussing illegal immigrants. While the legal immigrant is an important ingredient for the melting pot of the United States, aliens are brown invaders intent on murdering innocent, white Americans.

Is there really a noticeable difference between a legal immigrant and an illegal alien? Does the mode of entry determine the worth of an immigrant?

No.

It is true that some illegal immigrants have committed violent crimes, it is true that some are criminals. It is not true that all undocumented immigrants are inherently violent. Donald Trump’s characterization of undocumented immigrants is nauseatingly inaccurate.

According to a June 2018 report done by the libertarian Cato Institute, undocumented immigrants are just half as likely to be incarcerated in comparison to native born Americans.

Also, most immigrants in the United States who are technically undocumented entered through legal means. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that of the 700,000 travelers who overstayed their visas in 2017, 600,000 remain in the United States.

Compounded with the fact that, according to a report by the Center for Migration Studies, “since 2007 visa overstays have outnumbered undocumented border crossers by a half million,” Trump’s fixation with a wall illustrates his ignorance in terms of immigration, not to mention a general ignorance.

I know both undocumented and documented Mexican immigrants and, like most humans, they are more similar than they are different. There are immigrants with the same genetic material, brothers, who differ in their immigration status.

My family includes people of varying immigration statuses. All are my family, and last time I checked, none are murderers, none are rapists.

Legal immigration from Mexico has a lot more to do with timing and financial means than character. In contrast, illegal immigration, usually performed through visa overstays, is a cheaper, more dangerous alternative form of immigration.

Immigration has largely been racialized as a throng of brown Latino men storming into the United States to eat our hamburgers, to take our jobs, and to destroy “our” white American way of life. This is an irrational fear, a moral panic, based off racist rhetoric rather than facts.

I will agree, as will most, that I do not want dangerous criminals in the United States, nor do I want drugs to enter the United States especially in the midst of our country’s struggle with heroin overdoses.

However, an illegal immigrant is not an inherent criminal and they are more than drug smuggling delinquents.

This article is not interested in whether or not Donald Trump is racist (he is), this article is about the inaccurate characterization of illegal immigrants. Donald Trump has used his position of power to turn immigrants into one thing and one thing only: male Mexican criminals.

We need more words to describe undocumented immigrants; I will start.

Uncle, worker, friend, American.