In light of the debate surrounding flaws in the migratory system, the controversial approval of DACA during the Obama administration and the rising intolerance –or, xenophobia in many cases– throughout the US towards immigrants, immigration has become a key aspect on current political agendas. The politicization of the topic on the grounds of speculation, and ill-informed opinions guided by biases and prejudices has been inevitable.
It is no secret that the majority of immigrants in the US are Latinos. Despite the wider spectrum of ethnicities that conform the immigrant population, Latinos have suffered a significant backlash from those who have risen to advocate against the protection of their rights. The term Latino encompasses a heterogeneous group of people originating from any of the 20 countries that comprise Latin America (Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Dominican Republic, Honduras, etc.). But even within a large group like that one, there are specific collectivities that political rhetoric and the prevalent prejudices target:
“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 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.”
Despite the diversity that underlies the term Latino, the prevalent reductionist rhetoric has associated it mainly with people originally from Mexico. Ignorance and prejudice are the pillars of this posture, that seeks to find a group of people to demonize. It is all part of the clockwork functioning of this administration’s politics of hate. Disgracefully, it is a pathological tendency. Take for instance the case of Middle-Eastern immigrants, or the criminalization of African-American people.
There’s so much these politicians and people have to say when it comes to Latino immigrants, and yet so little they understand about them.
They do not understand the Latino spirit, su sangre combativa [their combative blood]. Latinos are combative when it comes to hardship and struggle. Their hope remains strong, and their dreams untouched by adversity. They rely on the visions of their futures as a motivation to leave their families, and homes behind and endure the challenges beyond their comfort zone. Su fuerza [their strength] and resilience to work and fight honorably in an unknown country comes from their intense desire to thrive and seize the opportunities they could not even imagine before their exodus. Latinos constantly embrace their dreams hoping that if they are unable to fulfill them, their sons and daughters will do so. Nonetheless, politicians seem to forget that the latter, dreaming and not settling for second bests, is not illegal.
Politicians have forgotten that never-ending kindness of heart, nobility and altruistic desire to better serve society have earned Latinos a special place in their cities and communities. It is therefore not a surprise that entire cities constantly seek to protect them from the detrimental policies that the White House has recently presented. For such policies are a threat not only to immigrants but also to the very identity and heart of the communities to which they belong.
There are policy makers that do not seem to understand or value su agradecimiento [how grateful they feel] towards America, the country that restored their hope. While Latinos feel proud of their roots, they celebrate and uphold the nation that adopted them. Since America gave them hope, they seek to reciprocate it every day by being hardworking law-abiding citizens. The trust that hundreds of thousands placed on the Obama administration when it came to the enforcement of DACA prove it. Without a doubt, Trump's violation of their trust on the system is a cruel move that allows for the perpetuation of its failure to the people.
Furthermore, from an academic stance, politicians and people ignore that immigration is actually positive. Economists like David Card have proven the galvanizing effect that hardworking immigrants have on the economy. What’s more, Card’s studies revealed that immigration has not been a significant source of unemployment in the US.
Trump’s decision on DACA is by all means against the spirit of the United States, a threat not only to Latinos but to immigrants in general regardless of their countries of birth. The US has always been a nation of immigrants, a country built upon the invaluable support that waves of immigrants have contributed in every imaginable way. After all, “For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities.” Those who refuse to acknowledge the latter and dare to support Trump's repeal on DACA are undoubtedly betraying the principles that lie at the heart of the nation they claim to love.