Los Angeles High School of the Arts

Trump’s election: Finding a voice for undocumented immigrants

The importance of giving undocumented immigrants an audience to talk about who they are and not just rely on the mainstream depictions of immigrants is important in the battle against prejudice. When Donald J. Trump said, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists…” and we can’t forget “calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…” He speaks intense and irrational dislike and fear of people from other countries and he’s expressing racism, which leads to anyone else that’s xenophobic being racist towards immigrants and other minorities.

On Nov. 4, 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama gave undocumented immigrants and minorities a sense of hope. Undocumented immigrants hope to be equal with all human beings. Even with their hope, we fear to lose all they have: their families, homes, and rights. This isn’t all they fear. They also fear discrimination, deportation, and a number of other things. Many undocumented have a dream of being seen as people who are a part of the United States, but undocumented immigrants aren’t the only ones that fear all these possible outcomes; their U.S. born children or undocumented children also share these fears.

Undocumented people don’t come to the U.S. to commit crimes. They come to find opportunities that aren’t offered in their countries. People forget that it’s the same situation from 1607 when the English came to the “New World” when the population was growing in England and jobs where hard to find, which established James Town. Immigrants come to the U.S. to seek a better life for themselves and their children. Others come to find work to send money back to their home countries. They come with the hope to find opportunities just like anybody else.

The children of undocumented parents have feared the 2016 presidential election because of racism, sexism, and the over all prejudice. Trump has called women pigs, categorized all Latinos as “ Mexicans,” and referred to all Muslims as terrorist. As an American student who attends an LAUSD school, I was able to realize that the U.S. was a place for all people. There are over 42.4 million immigrants in the U.S. according to U.S. Senses Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS).

Throughout the interviews with undocumented parents, children, and U.S. born children, their responses emphasized the same idea: the majority of the fears children have were to see their families be deported despite working hard to get a livelihood in America.

“If they get deported, I wouldn’t know what to do without them. They would be forced to leave me while I stay behind, not knowing what to do with myself,” one teen said, who wished to not be identified.

Children also desired to give their undocumented parents their documents and legal status because they wish to visit their home country to see their families. Some children said their parents have been waiting for more than 17 years for their documents. The only thing they can is hope for the best for their families and relatives.

Among the many fears of undocumented parents, is the fear of being deported and having to leave their children behind. They hope to get their documents and “papeles” or legal status in this country. They also believed that the U.S. was a place for opportunities and a place of hope, but after the presidential election results, that hope may falter.

“Go back from where you came from” or “speak English, this is America,” one parent, who wished not to be identified, said she has been told. “It was such a disappointment because I’m here doing a job they wouldn’t like to do. U.S. Hispanics will be in the fields picking food, selling ice cream in 90-100 degree weather, selling fruit or flowers on the streets just to make a couple of dollars to keep a roof over our heads and have food on the table.”

Most Latinos work two part-time jobs or just one but most of the time it’s serving others in a restaurants, which includes cooking or washing dishes; babysitting, house cleaning, or other minimum wage jobs.

Throughout the interviews they all asked me “could he [Trump] deport us? Can he actually build that wall?” Their faces concerned, and eyes filled with fear, the only thing I could tell them was that it would take a long time for that to happen.

“It’s absurd how he refers to all the Hispanic races as ‘Mexicans’, we aren’t all the same. Why label us as something we aren’t, assuming we are all from the same country,” another parent, who wished not be identified, said. “I don’t understand why he would say we bring crime, drugs, and are rapists. It would be like if I said all whites: abuse women, murder, are robbers, and commit aggravated assault.”

Despite the fear in these families, they still have hope that one day things will change and they’ll be accepted. The election results seem very grim, but what’s important for people is to stay strong and stick together through whatever may happen.

Though many face tremendous fear, many have a tremendous amount of hope. We are all human beings and we shouldn’t be judged for who we are or how we live. No one deserves to live in fear based on who we are, whether that’s Latino, Asian, African, Muslim, LGBT, or female, we are all here to live a good life, not to be stereotyped by comments like, “Mexicans are drug dealers, Africans should be in the fields, women are weak, Muslims are terrorists,” because race doesn’t prescribe crime or career, gender and sex doesn’t assign strength or beauty, and terrorism has no religion. American immigrants are what make America great and not by discrimination, but by working together.