3 September 2019
Rapists. Drug Dealers. Criminals. Thugs. Killers. These are all words President Donald Trump has used to describe people of Hispanic race. Even since the early stages of the Trump Campaign, promises of tighter border control and the construction of the infamous “wall” have been at the center of conversation. But the narrative of domestic protection has been cradled in a rhetoric that profiles an entire race of people. These words have bred an astounding level of hate and act as poison to both the political and social climate of the country.
In 2015, when Donald Trump formally announced his candidacy, he said this about the United States’ relationship with Mexico: “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.” His statements were followed by a thunderous MAGA applause.
They were a crowd who could not see the future, and frankly I’m not sure they would care if they did.
They could not know that in 2019, nearly 600,000 people would be taken into custody by border control agents. Roughly 70,000 of which were unaccompanied children according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It has been reported that infant babies have been separated from their parents, hot meals are rarely provided, there is no access to showers and there is an overwhelming smell of urine and feces in the facilities.
Perhaps this is the most appalling part of all this: as babies sit in cages (some illegal, some not) there are still crowds screaming anti-immigration chants like “Send her back!” as an incredibly polarizing American president listens in silence at the podium.
See, that’s the thing about racism: it only takes one powerful figure to publicly acknowledge their bigoted beliefs to wake up the old beast that we thought might have been dead. Mexican Americans and illegal Mexican immigrants have taken the brunt of some incredibly disturbing hate crimes by some MAGA supporters over the last few years as a result.
Arguably the mistreatment of Mexicans at the border and around the country strikes a terrifying resemblance to early Nazi Germany. I wouldn’t go as far to make direct comparisons, but I will say that, similarly, the conditions that many are facing in the detention centers are not about immigration but are rather about dehumanization. In fact, groups of Jewish Americans have come together to launch the campaign “Never Again Action” that aims to shut down border detention centers.
In an interview with i24 News, Never Again Action organizer Sophie Golan said, “We are not waiting for conditions that are happening at the border and around the country to mirror what happened in the Holocaust. We are not going to wait for it to get to that point, we are going to take action now.”
However, Trump and his administration have not only made public enemies of illegal Mexicans, but brown immigrants in general. A person’s legal status in the U.S. is no longer a guarantee of protection, and it’s scary.
Looking forward, it’s time for the nation that has been revered globally for so long to take a hard look at what is happening. How many more people will die in detention centers before they get shut down or reformed? How many more children must report sexual assault by officers before someone stops it all? When will enough, be enough?