Donald Trump misunderstands immigrants’ motivations

Christina Gaspar
Oceanside, Calif.

Donald Trump started his surprisingly successful presidential campaign by pointing a finger at Mexico. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists and some, I assume, are good people,” Trump argues that building a wall, paid by Mexico, would stop the influx of immigrants.

Mexican immigrants moved in large numbers toward the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Of course, Mexican immigrants still continue to migrate, but now in smaller numbers. In the past few years most immigrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico have been from other Central American countries.

These immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes than the general populace, but Trump doesn’t admit that. Like every human being, they are in search of a better life for themselves and their families and often are literally running to escape gang violence. Others are in search of an opportunity to make their kids’ lives better. My parents are an example of this. Like many immigrants, they came to the U.S. from Mexico in order to change the patterns of oppression that still keep too many people stuck in poverty.

They are not unlike the Pilgrims who came to America in order to live their faith without being judged. Though Trump acts as though the country belongs to European Americans like him, he forgets that his ancestors were also immigrants.

“I’m pretty sure Trump is not Native American,” 61-year-old Mitchell Polestin, a New Yorker, said in an interview with the Princeton Summer Journal.

My parents, like the majority of immigrants, came to America to work and earn a decent living. If people like us are considered “its worst,” then I don’t know what Trump considers its best. Is it a failed businessman who fundamentally misunderstands the American dream?

Trump implies that Mexico is the main cause of America’s domestic problems. The truth of the matter is that Mexican drug cartels continue to operate because of demand in the U.S. In an article in The Christian Science Monitor, “Guns, drugs, and La Barbie: Why America is responsible for Mexican drug cartels,” Jacob Bronsther argues that the demand of new, effective, and cheap drugs from American citizens is what causes drug cartels in poorer countries to keep inventing new drugs and running drug farms.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, 90 percent out of 11,700 firearms recovered by Mexican officials can be traced back to the U.S. By indirectly providing illegal guns to Mexican cartels, America is contributing to the issue. Mexico and the U.S. have to work together in order to stop drug smuggling to the U.S. and decrease the violence and corruption in Mexico caused by the cartels. Trump has to realize that he can’t blame Mexico but rather must seek to improve the situation together.

As a Mexican and an American, I’m glad to know that the majority of people we interviewed didn’t think like Trump. Six out of seven individuals interviewed on a recent afternoon for the Princeton Summer Journal were not in favor of Trump’s comments.

“Everyone in America started out as immigrants,” Gara Sommers, another New Yorker, said.

If Trump’s immigrant ancestors could see him now, what would they feel? Would they be proud? Or would they be ashamed?

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