America’s racism and immigration issues didn’t start with Trump

America’s racism and immigration issues didn’t start with Trump

America’s racism and immigration issues didn’t start with Trump
July 07
12:10 2018

We’ve all seen the pictures. We’ve heard the audio of children wailing in Spanish for their parents. We’ve been forced to listen to the leader of our once “free and just nation” antagonize and dehumanize immigrants on a global scale.

It’s easy to say that Trump has ignited a storm of racism and intolerance because it’s true. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near as truthful to claim that these same nationalistic, xenophobic tendencies have sprung up suddenly, or were newly fabricated by the current administration. Racism and discrimination are as American as apple pie.

This is important to note because many believe that voting for the “correct” party, placing complete and total faith in partisan politics, will somehow fix all of the injustices we’re facing in this country.

As much as I love President Obama and believe he did amazing work for this country, his administration deported more undocumented immigrants than any other combined.

The response to the evidence of border mistreatment and separation of families has been inspiring, and the millions of dollars raised to reunite these children with their parents make me hopeful. But it rubs me the wrong way that it took actual footage of mistreated children for this country to empathize with the undocumented struggle. It took the traumatization of children for the citizens of this country to realize the significant problems regarding border immigration.

But these issues have persisted through years and various administrations, Democrat and Republican.

It’s tempting to think that supporting one particular party will solve our problems, but having complete faith in anything can be counterproductive. Being blinded by loyalty to an idea or promise is dangerous — not only on an individual, intellectual level but on a larger, national level. As citizens, we have the responsibility to constantly check those in power, and if we find they are putting their own interests ahead of the interests of the people, we displace them.

As of now, America is fundamentally struggling to assert the political and human rights of its citizens. Trump has just made this battle hypervisual in a way we haven’t experienced in a while. He is neither the origin nor the end.

We have to hold everyone accountable and care for everyone who is being dehumanized and abused by our government. We have to care when the racism and the abuse aren’t as loud or as obviously upsetting. We have to care enough to comb through every crevice of our own country’s protocols, laws and procedures, where the traces of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia still remain. Once found, we must change them.

We cannot wait until immigration incarceration issues become so bad that we are constantly bombarded with video evidence of the irreversible damage it is causing families.

The children you’ve seen in the media are the children of people who have braved deserts and jungles and trains for a chance to offer them a real life. They came for refuge and instead were detained, separated and criminalized. No human being is illegal, and it is up to us to finally and definitively revamp our country’s harmful immigration detention processes.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Maritza Ramos

Maritza Ramos

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