Being Hispanic in Trump's America
For me, growing up Hispanic has made a lasting impact on my life. I’ve always been proud of being able to live as both a proud American and Mexican. I reap of the opportunities and the benefits that identifying as a Mexican American gives me in the world. I am able to live and understand the inner workings of both cultures and benefit from being bilingual. I have never doubted my pride and appreciation of being a Mexican American, until now.
Before I begin let me say this, I was born in the United States, I didn’t have to work as hard as my parents did to make it in America. I never endured a language barrier or any type of discrimination in my hometown. I’ve never even realized I could be discriminated against, as naive as that sounds, until Trump took office.
During Trump’s entire presidential run, for the first time in my seventeen years of life, I stayed on top of what was said during those debates regarding minorities. And when he said, as part of his run to be selected as the Republican nominee, “[Mexican immigrants] are bringing drugs, crime, and are rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”, I felt a seed of fear, that I had never once beheld, lodge into my mind. I then knew that what would be our future president, had nothing but hate for people like me, like my parents, like my family, and like a vast majority of the United States. And that fear was unlike any other, that fear caused me to take special care in noticing other’s reactions towards me and those like me. Then I saw what I never thought I’d see, an accumulation of people who shared in Mr. Trump’s hateful opinions begin to emerge, almost out of thin air. What even surprised me more is that I began seeing people I had known my entire life personally knew share in those opinions. And those same people had not recognized me as part of that group, instead choosing to alienate me from my culture, which I am proud of, and only recognizing me as an American. Because of this I was appalled, I didn’t know what to think or to believe. I thought hard from then on about why that was. Why is it that my people are considered as “wretched” and “vile”? Why am I and others like me so hated?
Although in the past, it is evident that there has been a rocky relationship between Mexico and the US. But this tension does not explain why an amalgamation of people hold such hate in their hearts for a group of people. Maybe it’s because of the illegal immigrants, but to be fair, we are not the only illegal immigrants coming in and we are not ALL illegal immigrants. The majority of Hispanics present in America are and have been legal citizens/residents for generations. In fact, Hispanics account for 18% of the US population at 58 million in 2016. In addition, Hispanics are the largest ethnic/non-white majority in the States. In that 18%, 63% of that includes Mexicans, which is the largest Hispanic sub-group. For most Mexican immigrants the wait time to apply for legal residency is approximately 20 years, if there are no special ties/reasons for this person to be present in the US. And contrary to Mr. Trump’s statement, immigrants don’t usually come to an unknown land, far removed from their families and the only home they’ve ever known, where they don’t speak the language, and have no connections to choose to participate in crime in a place where that they know they are not liked. They come to find hope when they are hopeless, prosperity from a place where there is none. They come to have the chance at success that is not forseeable to them as Mexican citizens. They come to live a better life, give a better future for their children, to give them a chance of unbridled success.
So to say that all Mexican immigrants are rapists, drug-lords, and criminals is such an outrageous statement to make. Living in Trump’s America, especially in light of recent events like the enforcement of the “zero-tolerance policy”, which subsequently led to the separation of families, has created feelings of unease and fear. And the sad thing is, is that many people are either too afraid to speak up, or just don’t care. I don’t personally condone or condemn illegal immigration, I don’t agree with people breaking laws to get here but I understand that there are dire circumstances that call for these extreme measures to be taken. But that gives our government no right to separate families like that. We are living, breathing, and feeling humans. We are just like you and everyone else in this world. Decisions don’t and should not define people, especially those made in difficult situations. Doing something when you are stuck in between a rock and a hard place, full of desperation, should not define you. So why is it that prejudice has taken over the description of an entire group of people?
I don’t think anyone can explain it without contention, and I don’t think that I could ever come to understand hate like that. What I do hold onto though, is hope. I hope that in light of events like these, that people begin to rise up and express their opinions. I hope that people are understanding and have discussions over topics like these, instead of fights and arguments over who is wrong or right. Conversation is the key to a better tomorrow, to progress, and to what is in store for the future.