Immigrants first, nativism second

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Immigrants from Central American have been a source of political and social debate for the past few years [Jorge Duenes/Reuters] 

 The influx of Central American immigrants in the past few years has been politicized and used for political gains election after election. For President Trump, the rejection of Central American immigrants has served as one of the foundations of his successful “America First” campaign. Millions of Americans have subscribed to President Trump’s campaign, even though the Central American immigrants coming to the U.S. southern border are fleeing violence and instability. Therefore, President Trump’s campaign can be more accurately described as a nativism-first-immigrants-second campaign that is not suitable for a country like the United States. 

 The influx of Central American immigrants is a not a new phenomenon. During the Obama administration, thousands of Central Americans came to the southern border to claim asylum, many of them women and children. To deal with this large influx, President Obama created the Central American Minors Program, which helped minors apply for parole or refugee status so they could be reunited with their parents in the United States. In 2017, President Trump terminated the program and rescinded parole for partially approved applications. However, on March 1 of this year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler ordered the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service to resume about 2700 applications

 In another attempt to deter Central American migrants, President Trump tried to send asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for court hearings. However, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg from San Francisco recently ruled that President Trump’s policy is illegal, since U.S. law does not authorize the Department of Homeland Security to take such action. This is one of many cases in which the courts have intervened to protect immigrants from President Trump’s harmful and illegal immigration policies. 

 It is important to note that there is a disparity between the President’s nativism and American values. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2018, 51 percent of Americans approve of admitting Central American refugees into the U.S. This is well above the historical average of 36 percent and includes a slight majority of Americans. The international community is with the 51 percent of Americans who support Central American refugees, recently reaffirming refugees’ right to seek asylum in U.S. 

 President Trump should reconsider his stance on the question of Central American immigrants, whether he does it out of compassion or for compliance with domestic and international law. In a nation built on the backs of immigrants and their descendants, how can a U.S. President promote a nativist stance towards immigrants seeking refuge? There is no other reason other than the political gain that rejecting immigrants promises. Unfortunately, President Trump’s political gains are at the expense of Central American migrants. Instead of promoting nativism and harming people, President Trump’s campaign should be transformed into an immigrants-first-nativism-second campaign that welcomes Central American immigrants. 


Michael Hernandez is a contributor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at michael.g.2.hernandez@uconn.edu.

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