Nearly five years ago, I remember overhearing President Donald Trump’s remarks against my home country. There was no escaping those words.
“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems,” said then Republican nominee, Donald Trump.
“When Mexico sends its people,” he continued during his campaign, “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.”
His words slithered. His ego boasting.
“They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” he said. And how nice of him to assume that some of us “are good people.”
The mid-2015 election season had started off with derogatory, discriminatory, racist words that only seemed to fuel what was in the underbelly of America.
Mom and Dad brought me up to be thick-skinned — if someone hurts your feelings, let it go, but make sure your voice has been heard.
And in 2015, I didn’t have a voice. Those words stung and hung over my head for years. I was angry and sad. How can someone generalize a whole group of people in such a nasty way? More personally, how can he say that we’re all rapists and criminals? I was a kid in 2015. I worked. I studied. Rinse and repeat.
During his campaign, he also promised to get rid of DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. I was a recipient of that program. It gave me the opportunity to go to school and receive in-state tuition and work. It seemed like a direct attack on me.
If he had been successful at repealing DACA, that’d mean all my dreams and hard work to get to the point I was would be gone.
I panicked. I panicked even more when, on election night, Trump won. What was I going to do? What were some of my friends going to do? What were the thousands of us going to do?
It was undetermined, but we were under fire. But we weren’t rapists. We weren’t criminals. Legally, you couldn’t apply if you had a criminal record and you needed a GED or high school diploma.
Why then were we in the crosshairs of a political campaign? To get more votes? To fire the fuel on a somewhat dormant racist background against Mexicans?
DACA recipients and Mexicans had been collateral damage in a tumultuous election.
But the years passed and DACA remains. That doesn’t mean Trump hasn’t done permanent damage — many DACA recipients refused to reapply in fear of being deported. The fear remains.
Except, this year, the tone has changed. The U.S. Supreme Court has stated that the Trump presidency could not remove the program. And just recently, his tone changed. A “bigly” immigration bill was to come.
They’re working on the legal complexities, he said, and the executive order would include DACA. “ I think people are going to be very happy.”
The statements, to be quite frank, are meritless on his “merit-based bill.” Just this year, he tried to remove the program that nearly 700,000 people are part of — people who are doctors, educators and health care providers. That was a threat to their lives, their livelihood, and now, the program is cool with him?
Though DACA recipients come from all over the world — including South Korea, Colombia, India, etc. — a mass majority of enrollees are Mexican. And a few years ago, he said we were rapists and criminals?
Call me crazy, but I feel like I’m being gaslit. Another crossfire of a political campaign to gain more votes. A prop.
And genuinely, it seems like an empty promise. Much like when he was elected, I hoped that his followers and supporters were right. I wanted them to prove me wrong, that maybe, President Trump would surprise the world. He certainly has — but not in the way we all wanted.
There’s still hope, I guess. Mr. President, I hope you do the right thing.