Indiana Daily Student

Latino community reacts to Trump’s immigration policy

A campaign sign in the yard of a Donald Trump supporter.
A campaign sign in the yard of a Donald Trump supporter.

As of 2014, there were an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center. More than half of these are Mexican immigrants.

In June 2015, Donald Trump discussed the dilemma of immigration in the U.S. and accused Mexico of sending drugs, crime and rapists to the country in his campaign announcement speech.

This statement has caused controversy among members of the Latino community. Sylvia Martinez, director of the IU Latino Studies Program, said she was shocked by Trump’s comments on 

“It was completely ridiculous and out of touch with reality,” Martinez said.

According to another study by the Pew Research Center, first-generation immigrants are less likely to engage in criminal activity than native-born citizens or second-generation 

Martinez, whose own parents were once illegal immigrants from Mexico, said the accusations made by Trump affected her 

“For me, it was impactful because it was suggesting that my parents are criminals, rapists and murderers, which they are not,” Martinez said. “They came here illegally in the ‘70s to pursue opportunities.”

Martinez’s parents are now U.S. citizens, she said.

In his announcement speech, Trump also said he will build a wall along the Mexican border in order to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country. Martinez said she believes this idea is too unrealistic and expensive to actually be successful. She said it may make the journey past the border more difficult, but not impossible, so it would also be unsuccessful at keeping out illegal immigrants.

Last year, Trump said he would deport all illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. Martinez said she believes the deportation to be unfair to immigrants who have been productive during their time in the U.S.

Martinez said she also believes the deportations would break up families where the children are citizens but not their parents and vice-versa.

Overall, Martinez said she is not a fan of our current immigration policy, which she considers to be “broken” and in need of 

“There needs to be some legislation where if you’ve shown that you worked a stable job, you pursued education or military service or whatever that is that shows you’ve been a productive citizen, there should be a pathway towards citizenship,” Martinez said.

In the 2016 presidential election, Martinez said she will be supporting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. While Martinez said she doesn’t know what Clinton will do specifically to help Latino culture, she said cannot allow herself to vote for Trump.

Martinez said she still doesn’t understand how the Republican candidate has been this successful with his campaign.

Martinez said she believes these statements have had a negative influence on Trump’s 

She said a man shouted at her mother from his truck to “go back to her country,” and her husband was threatened by a man who said the government was going to build a wall.

Martinez said one of the things she wants to teach people through the Latino Studies Program is that the Latino community is composed of more than just illegal immigrants.

“The Latino and Hispanic population in the U.S. is really diverse,” Martinez said. “So the majority of Latinos in the U.S. really are U.S.-born.”

In order to better understand the Latino community and combat stereotypes, Martinez said she encourages others to expose themselves to its culture.

“Read a book, take a class,” Martinez said. “Always be critical of what you read.”

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