As an immigrant, the racist comments made by President Trump over the last few weeks about Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.), have stirred up a tornado of emotions within me.
On the one hand, I'm saddened. On the other hand, I'm frustrated.
I'm saddened because the United States has changed in countless ways over the past few years. When I moved here, now nearly five years ago, President Obama was in office. Another tidbit I should mention, I was moving to Chicago from Hungary. Yes, Hungary all the way in eastern Europe. The messages President Obama relayed and the way in which he portrayed the United States, made any immigrant and visitor alike thrilled when given the opportunity to move to or visit the country. It was this welcoming message that made me excited to get my bachelor's degree at a renowned university while pursuing a career in Chicago.
Now, things have changed. Accountability has fallen to the wayside and the line for what is and isn't acceptable behavior and language are constantly adjusted based on political convenience. We need to understand how dangerous this is because when we become immune to hateful language, we normalize its use. When we use racist language in everyday discourse, it sometimes seeps its way into our lives. Such beliefs have been ignited since the start of President Trump's campaign to run for president in 2016 and have finally reached its peak.
Telling people of color to "go back to where they came from," is a historically racist statement. What's more, is this language constitutes discrimination based on national origin according to Trump's own Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Moreover, the statement is inaccurate in this context. The four women targeted by President Trump are all U.S. citizens.
What makes me saddest is the GOP's unwillingness to, as a whole, condemn President Trump's behavior and label the tweets as racists.
I'm frustrated that this is the direction the country has gone down. My childhood dream was to move to the U.S. and settle here once I attended university. This is still the path I am pursuing. However, the mood has shifted. Deep down I still love being in the U.S. It's where I met some of my best friends, had some of the best road trips and vacations, and it's where I've established myself. I won't be leaving anytime soon, because, at the core of it, I am grateful, each and every day, for the opportunity to live here.
What makes me most frustrated with the GOP's unwillingness to condemn the tweets as racist, is the unwelcoming sentiment they portray about the country towards current and future immigrants.
While I've never received demeaning remarks for being an immigrant, hearing such rhetoric from powerful people in government, capable of changing immigration laws, is much more threatening. The GOP needs to understand the power they are wasting by not standing up to the president to set a precedent.