The fears of the un­doc­u­mented in the time of Trump

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

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