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Harsh immigration policies have always been present, public now noticing

Daniel Reyes and Yazmin Domingue

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The American public is well versed on President Donald Trump’s own unique methods of leading the country. A month of presidency has displayed him as a painfully honest politician who has so far kept all of his campaign promises. On that agenda was the well known topic of immigration and the rhetoric surrounding it.

Painting the common immigrant as “bringing drugs, bringing crime (and being) rapists,” as Trump stated in his presidential announcement speech in June 2015, set the platform for all immigrants to be considered as a threat to Americans. He created the misrepresentation that immigrants are to be considered a threat to the American people by associating them with crime.

Following the statements made from Trump, the world reacted with distaste. With the country already battling racially charged violence, it seemed as though Trump appealed to those that were oppressing rather than those that were oppressed.

Picking up where former President Barack Obama left off, Trump widened the countries that would be affected by the travel ban from three to seven.

The restrictions were much harsher with Trump’s policies, by halting travel all together. A week later, Trump is tackling another major issue in his original list of grievances: immigration as a ground threat to the American people.

Trump’s trend of associating immigrants as “other” is creating a false representation of the actual role immigrants play in America, but it needs to be recognized that trend has been ongoing by previous administrations. The popularity of deportations and the topic of immigration are simply more prevalent now than ever. In order to combat the aggression towards this demographic of people, it must be recognized how aggressive the treatment and rhetoric towards undocumented immigrants will increase throughout the next four years. Dissociating undocumented people from this rhetoric is crucial to mobilize for immigration reform.

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Cook County Commissioner, Jesus Chuy Garcia, was among those marching on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of BRANDON GARCIA)

“Trump’s rhetoric is part of a long term trend of demonizing Latinos in general as illegal,” immigration law and politics professor Daniel Morales said. “Prior Republican politicians have been slightly more careful about the way they characterize Latinos although their policies have been relatively similar. He has revealed some underlying forces that have been operating in the background that we have not been paying attention to as much as we might have otherwise.”

One of those forces is the Secure Fence Act, drafted by the Bush administration in 2006, which led to the creation of the current wall along the Mexican-U.S. border. Govtrack, a website dedicated to following passed legislations, stated the goal of the act was to “make our borders more secure.”

This rhetoric is very similar to what littered Trump’s campaign.

What cannot be forgotten is former President Obama’s reputation as “Deporter in Chief.” Under his presidency, 2.5 million undocumented immigrants were deported. This is more than all 20th century presidents combined, according to Al Jazeera.

“Obama has done much of the same, if not worse, with his bombings, his indifference toward American interest in the world and his lack of assertiveness when it came to other countries taking advantage of our kind of disposition,” senior Tom Med said. “I think it’s fair to say that policies act as a pendulum and it swings back and forth from right to left as time moves forward. It is very important for this to happen so that our country can develop a compromise of the best of everyone’s interest. It’s like taking turns with the microphone.”

Therefore, the recent immigration roundups taking place under Trump’s administration throughout the country comes as no surprise; it was only due time. According to John F. Kelly, secretary of Homeland Security, ICE detained 680 undocumented people throughout 11 states in the past week. The high number of deportations in a week is being responded to with a sudden up rise in resistance in concerned citizens and fear among undocumented immigrants.

But, as Morales stated, many American citizens are just now beginning to notice.

This became apparent throughout the past week when concerned students at DePaul took to Facebook to copy and paste a status that CTA officials were allegedly checking for identification of people with Hispanic and Middle Eastern appearances. The post also stated CTA and CPD as being funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

“I think, we are all living under some type of fear (…) I find myself walking around campus with my head down most of the time. My family hesitates to travel anywhere because of fear of getting deported,” senior Yadira Gomez said. “It’s all due to the false information that goes around, such as the CTA ID check, which was all over social media and everyone believed it. However, CTA took it upon themselves to correct everyone. We just don’t know what to believe anymore and that is causing more stress, fear and dilemma.”

The report was later confirmed as false after the CTA responded to the controversy in their own statement: “It’s important to us that everyone, no matter who they are or how they identify, or where they’re from feel comfortable and confident riding transit in Chicago.”

The statement ended in larger, bolder font size stating, “You are welcome here.” Having to include that everyone is welcome is concerning in its own right, since it plays into the growing fear of separation of people based on race that Trump has been creating with his rhetoric.

Fear continued into Friday morning after a report released by AP stated the White House was considering sending 100,000 National Guard troops to track undocumented immigrants along the border and in non-bordered states. The same morning, the Trump administration refuted the statement claiming it as false, only adding more to the fear and concern.

“For pro immigration enforcement the symbolism is very important (…) Trump is trying to show symbolically a seriousness of immigration enforcement so people who are anti-immigrant feel as is something is being done,” Morales said. “The basic problem is that there is no way for the public to accurately perceive what undocumented immigration is, what it means for them and often undocumented immigration is just conflated with racial pluralism. One question I’ve posed is, what amount of immigration is enough?”

Contrary to the anti-immigrant rhetoric taking place, 72 percent of citizens, in a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, believe immigrants who meet requirements should find a pathway to citizenship.

Thursday, Feb. 16, came to be known as a “Day Without An Immigrant.” Taking place nationally, the march brought attention to the necessity of undocumented people in this country.

Undocumented workers were encouraged to stay home Thursday in order to make their presence in everyday America known. By restaurants closing down to show support of their undocumented workers, it became visible on a national scale how critical American businesses rely on the undocumented workforce.

It is time to leverage this national attention to call for the necessity of immigration reform. However, at this point, it seems far from possible.

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Harsh immigration policies have always been present, public now noticing