The fears of the undocumented in the time of Trump
LOS ANGELES: When would-be immigrants Bernardino and Samuel got word in Mexico of the election of Donald Trump, they immediately gave up their plans to cross illegally into the United States. The rhetoric that originally fueled the billionaire populist’s rise to power was built around his ambitious promises to deport the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US and to build a “big, beautiful, powerful wall” along the border with Mexico. Now, with the New York Republican’s stunning victory Tuesday, fear and uncertainty are surging among undocumented immigrants. Will their workplaces be raided? Will there be mass expulsions? Greater obstacles to gaining legal status? What will happen?
No one knows. Samantha Yanez had not caught a wink of sleep. She arrived in the US at the age of six and now, at 21, she knows no other reality. But she has no papers. Because she arrived as a child, she was granted temporary legal status by executive order of President Barack Obama. But Trump has sharply criticized that program and could end it when he takes office in January. “It’s as if I didn’t have a country; I’m a foreigner in the only country I know,” Samantha said, her voice quaking. “I’m insecure. I feel anger, sadness-betrayed by the American dream,” she added.
Bernardino, a 34-year-old Honduran who declined to give his last name, was looking for a “coyote” to help him slip into the United States near the border city of Tijuana when he abandoned his plan. So did 18-year-old Samuel, a Salvadoran. Both men said they feared that if they are caught, their family members living north of the border might suffer. “Imagine if they stop me, after a while my family living over there would have problems. The truth I never imagined is that the blond man might win,” Samuel said at Padre Chava’s breakfast hall, a soup kitchen in downtown Tijuana that provides food and clothing for more than 1,000 immigrants every day.
‘The Trump tragedy’
Some 65 percent of Hispanic voters supported Democrat Hillary Clinton, but that was not enough to defeat her Republican rival. The election result left many Hispanics-the largest minority in the country, at 55 million strong-with long, tearful, worried faces. “We are living in uncertainty, very worried, because we don’t know what is going to happen,” said Libertad Sanchez, a 50-yearold Ecuadoran hairdresser who lives in New York and, even after 17 years in the country, still has no papers.