An Interview With a Formerly Undocumented Immigrant: Xenophobia, Ignorance, and Trump’s America

“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.”- The 45th President of The United States of America

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“In the audience tonight, we have four mothers whose children have been killed, brutally killed by people that came into the country illegally. You have thousands of mothers and fathers and relatives all over the country. They’re coming in illegally. Drugs are pouring in through the border. We have no country if we have no border.” The 45th President of The United States of America

“We need strong borders. We cannot give amnesty. I want to build the wall. We have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”-The 45th President of The United States of America

“We have to have assimilation–to have a country, we have to have assimilation. I’m not the first one to say this. We’ve had many people over the years, for many, many years, saying the same thing. This is a country where we speak English, not Spanish.”The 45th President of The United States of America

These words, spouted from the mouth of a leader chosen by a subcategory of humans with a particular dislike for anyone that’s not white, have echoed through the gaping holes left in our faith in this nation.  Nationalism and xenophobia are dangerous precursors to terrifying history.  We would be quite stupid to ignore that, don’t you think?

What I can tell you is this: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and galvanization of ICE have sent immigrant communities into a state of panic.  Undocumented people all over the nation are questioning whether to send their children to school, get much needed medical care, go to work, get groceries…

And I don’t know about you, but this isn’t the nation I want to be a part of.  This isn’t the nation I am proud of.  And this isn’t the nation I want to raise my kids in.

My mother was an undocumented immigrant.  I have friends who are undocumented immigrants.  And I can’t stand by and watch the country I call home demonize people that I love… good people who came here in search of safety and opportunity, just like literally every white settler who came here centuries ago.

Today on the blog, I interview a dear friend.  He just got his citizenship and agreed to answer a few questions for us.  Please, read his words.  So many people in this nation need the lens that this man so generously provides, so as you usually do when it comes to the immigrants of this nation, take advantage.

  1. So many people who make the journey to this country have an unbelievable story as to how they and their families got here. What is your immigration story? My mom chose to leave with us to the USA after getting divorced from my father. She wanted to give us the opportunities that the USA was selling: The Land Of Opportunity. It was my mom, my sister and me. I was 2 1/2 years old when we came to America by plane. My mother had the hardest part in this because she had to leave everything and her career (accountant) behind to start over. It was very hard for her to make a living in America where her degree from Ecuador didn’t matter.
  2. As a kid growing up in a nation that has a troubled recent history with immigration, how did your undocumented status impact you (or not)? Honestly, directly it hasn’t necessarily affected me. Luckily, we never had people knock on our door. Maybe my mother protected us from all the evils of the immigration system. But the kids in school would make fun of me.
  3. Do you feel that there is a difference in the way that the US treats immigrants of color vs. white immigrants? Oh most definitely. Once you have that shield of white skin, you automatically are considered a peaceful person versus a threat. I use to work a loss prevention/security job at Sears and we had codes for each race, and black people were the first ones, then hispanics, while whites were 3rd. Yet when I would watch the cameras, I caught a lot of white people stealing merchandise. A lot of them are the ones you “don’t suspect” like old Russian white ladies. Black people are always looked at the number one group of people to commit a crime, when that’s simply not true. They just get caught more often than whites because there is this hidden subliminal urge to point the finger at a black person over a white one.
  4. You mentioned that you just recently got your citizenship. What made you decide to make that choice? To be honest, my mother paid for it. I couldn’t afford it, but I tend to have a very procrastinating attitude so she said she would pay for it. She was hearing about Trump and what he wanted to do with immigrants, so I’m glad I’m now a citizen.
  5. What was the citizenship process like? It was simple and quick for me. The interview/tests went smooth because I studied and I know the english language.  Plus, I don’t have anything on my record. Even the lady interviewing me told me I’m one of the easy ones for her day because some people have so many things that need to be assessed, like criminal records, children, etc. And imagine trying to learn in English about new things you know nothing about? That’s brutal. I feel for non-English speaking families/folks who go through this process.
  6. How has Trump’s win impacted you? Your family? Your community? I was watching the election results come in. I think I opened a bottle of liquor when it was announced that he won. I couldn’t believe it. It was like a sick joke. And I can’t forget watching him walk out to announce that he won and seeing all those white people cheering for him. They literally voted for racism. Plain and simple. So far, it hasn’t impacted my community (at least at first sight. Honestly I’m kinda waiting for the day someone comes at me with some racist crap-that saying “I wish a n*gga would” comes to mind).
  7. Have you faced any discrimination in your career or personal life as a result of either your skin color or your immigration status in this country? All the time. But definitely not as often a person of darker color. Specifically, I was let go from a DJ residency I’ve had for almost 2 years, because one of the managers (white woman) and several of the patrons the owner is friends with (all white as well) have complained about the “urban music” I play. My job ,as a DJ, is to make people happy and dance. That’s my job. I take a lot of pride in that. When I don’t have people dancing, I question my night on the train ride home, thinking of what I could have done better or differently. If there is a party in the venue that is predominantly black and I get them dancing with some 90s hiphop/r&b and some chill Dancehall, the white people start getting nervous. I’m very serious. The white woman manager comes up to me and says “can you play like, top 40, pop music? Just not this.”  It aggravates me.
  8. What do you do? Your career? Your art? Your life? I’m a DJ/Producer/Engineer. I’ve produced a handful of viral remixes on SoundCloud including my Formation Remix (over 570k plays) and my Yoga Remix (over 350k plays). So I’ve been a producer/audio engineer for over 14 years now, but I kinda put that to the side in order to focus 100% on DJing. I’ve DJed in big clubs, casinos, bars, lounges, weddings, and (my proudest accomplishment) I  helped create a dope back-to-basics throwback party called Saved By The Bounce. It’s just a big dance party filled with great music, great vibes, great drinks, and positivity! As a DJ, I take a lot of pride in my sets, filled with a huge variety of genres and party rocking. I’m not a huge MC fan, but I like to talk to the crowd with the music, so I create routines that trigger reactions from the crowd and it always works. My favorite genre to play has to be dirty pop (*NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, S Club 7).
  9. If you could tell Trump’s America three things about undocumented immigrants, what would they be? Undocumented immigrants aren’t bad people. They are scared, and they are desperate for help or guidance towards being in a better position. Immigrants literally take the jobs you guys don’t want to do (do you guys want to be the janitors or do the dishes at a restaurant?) Immigrants have aspirations and dreams. Why are your needs more important than theirs? Everyone should have equal opportunity.
  10. Advice for other undocumented immigrants in this nation right now? Keep your family safe. Keep working hard and keep your fellow immigrant neighbors alert and safe. You guys are the backbone of this country, no matter what anyone says to you. Get the immigration process done with haste because you never know where we might be a few months from now under President Orange Turd.

I can’t thank this friend enough for giving his time, his words, and his perspective to this blog.  This message is full of hope mixed with anger and fear and a desire to help.  That’s the reality of what communities of color and immigrant communities are facing in America today.  And unless you are OK with being complicit in that, then you need to get up and resist.  By any and all means necessary.

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