Immigrants and Trump's First 100 Days as President

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezApril 28, 2017

Although many minority communities have been in the crosshairs, I will venture to say that no other community has been more affected by Trump’s first one hundred days than immigrant communities throughout this nation.  Illegal Immigration was Trump’s  signature promise while he was campaigning for the White House.  He often talked about illegal immigration in vitriolic tones.  Okay, he used vitriol for most of his speeches.

White working-class voters blamed illegal immigration for their woes.  Candidate Trump managed to successfully tapped into these voters’ dissatisfaction with this issue.  These voters believed that candidate Trump was going to stop or at least restrict illegal immigration.  Political pundits argued that this was the very reason as to why Trump was able to win the Industrial Midwest, a geographical area that had been controlled by Democrats for decades.

It is not hyperbole or exaggeration, but immigrant communities have been destabilized by Trump’s first one-hundred days.  All the anxieties and fears undocumented folks were bracing for came to fruition when this man was inaugurated back in January.  ICE agents have been aggressively showing up in immigrant communities yanking out undocumented immigrant of their homes where they live where their families.  Undocumented parents have been arrested by ICE while dropping off their kids at schools or while dealing with a legal matter at courthouses and others had been detained for being nearby places where undocumented immigrants with criminal records were being sought.  The anxieties and fears are palpable in many immigrant communities.  Major newspapers have reported that approximately 22,000 undocumented immigrants have been deported so far this year. Under Obama administration, this number was around 5,400 last year.
One might argue that we have an incoherent President with incoherent policy proposals, Indeed, President Trump told reporters that he first was going to start deporting “criminal aliens.”  He calculated that there were around two or three million “bad hombres” in the country who had committed violent and grave crimes.  The following week, the man who runs Homeland Security for him, Secretary Kelly told the host of “Face the Nation” that any alien who has had some encounter with any law enforcement agency, regardless the degree of the offense, was subject to deportation.  Then, Attorney General, Jeff Session also told reporters that the mere fact of an individual having come here illegally was a misdemeanor.  Therefore, whether or not an immigrant has committed crimes here in the US, said “alien” was subject to deportation.  There is no cohesiveness of message being sent by this administration to immigrant communities. Hence, there is agony, fear, and anxiety among undocumented families.

In light of the aggressive immigration enforcement approach currently used by this administration, many immigrant families have begun to prepare for that potential day in which they might not come home.  It truly is sad seeing many immigrant families seeking legal assistance from community organizations where they can draw up plans and sign legal papers that will allow close relatives or friends to have custody of their children.  These undocumented parents are being pro-active, in the event that doesn’t make it back home because they have been detained by ICE.   No parent should be living in the shadows and under this agony in this country.  Most of these immigrants have been here for years and they have contributed to the well-being of their communities.  Children shouldn’t be separated from their parents, we shouldn’t separate families who wish to be together.   These actions are inconsistent with the values that represent this country.  This ruthless enforcement is inhumane and mocks these very same values.

We should fix this immigration problem with a policy that is fair and inclusive.
Regardless how you feel about the issue of immigration, it is important to acknowledge that eleven million of undocumented immigrants can’t just be rolled into buses and be deported.  If you feel that this can be done and that Trump will do it, you must be living in “alternative reality.”   Immigration in this country has been debated for too long in Washington.  It started back in 2000.  Then, the events of September 11 of 2001 happened and everything changed.  In the aftermath of 9/11, we learned that some of the 19 hijackers had violated federal immigration laws while they were in the United States.

Literally and figuratively every election whether presidential or congressional, the issue of immigration has taken front and center.  Both political parties mostly focused on the enforcement aspect of this matter.  Obama as a candidate promised a proposal for immigration reform in his first year in office.  He never fulfilled that promise and instead of getting comprehensive immigration reform we got comprehensive immigration enforcement. The Obama’s administration set records for deporting hard-working immigrants with no criminal records.  He was even dubbed “the deporter in chief.”

To those conservatives who are influencing the President on this issue, I understand your concerns in not wanting to reward immigrants who came here illegally. Okay, make us earn that citizenship, make us pay fines and taxes and make us learn English.  But give us some sort of legalization.  So, our undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows and become full-fledged members of their communities.  Study after study shows that legalizing these law-abiding immigrants makes sense economically as they will contribute more to the output of this nation.  We just want an opportunity.

Two positive things that I would like to highlight in these one hundred days about this administration: First, it is great to see that this president has not reversed President Obama’s executive order that protected the “Dreamers” from being deported.    These “Dreamers” as they are being called were brought to this country when they were children by their parents. President Trump has told reporters that as long as these young people don’t engage in any illegal activity they shouldn’t be concerned about being deported.  Although it has been reported that one or two of these dreamers have been detained and one has been deported for allegations of having committed crimes.  Second, the level of activism that I have witnessed in these first one hundred days has given me hope.  I have seen people from all walks of life marching literally every other weekend since this president got inaugurated in January.  The forces of activism have been ignited and the challenge here is to continue organizing and agitating for true radical progressive change.

Finally, leaders in immigrant communities need to bring a vibrant passion whenever advocating for undocumented immigrants in this debate about immigration reform.  They have to be as intense, organized, and adamant about immigration reform as the anti-immigrant forces on the other side. Taking it to the streets and marching is great but there must also be some sort of legislative endeavors being pursued in Washington.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
4/27/2017

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Works used.

Bannon, Brad. “Trump’s first 100 days anything but presidential.”  The Hill 24 April 2017. Web. 25 April 2017

Camarota, Steven. “The Case Against Immigration:  Why the United States should look out for itself.” Foreign Affairs 31 March 2017. Web. 24n April 2017.

Horsey, David. “Trump should claim victory on the border and abandon his foolish wall.” Los Angeles Times 12 April 2017. Web. 24 April 2017.

Krikorian, Mark. “On Immigration, Fighting the Last War.” National Review. 1 Oct. 2015.

McManus, Doyle. “Trump’s populist revolution is already over — for now.” Los Angeles Times 16, April 2017. Web. 25 April 2017.
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