Immigrants in America: Fear should never be our new normal
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Just one week after a domestic terrorist targeted and killed 22 Latinx people at an El Paso Walmart and on the heels of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents detaining 680 workers at food processing plants in Mississippi, the Trump administration announced a “public charge” rule that will deny green cards for many immigrants who legally utilize public assistance programs such as Medicaid or food stamps. Make no mistake: these attacks are not just about immigration status -- they are strikes on workers, the poor and all people of color. Unless we get at the core underlying issues of white supremacy that fuel these acts of hate, we will continue to merely deal with the symptoms and not the root cause.

Sadly, the same rhetoric that fueled the hatred of the El Paso shooter and inspired him to take such horrific actions also dictates this administration’s immigration policies. It’s an intentional agenda designed to scare and intimidate immigrants from coming into this country or continuing to call this place home.

Our elected officials should unequivocally and directly renounce xenophobic policies and white supremacy, not just in words and statements, but through actions that assure immigrant families that not only are they safe and welcome in the United States, they belong here. Instead, this administration took the opportunity to execute a detrimental “public charge” rule and a massive raid, both of which stoke the fear and anxiety we live with daily in our communities.


The rapid succession of attacks are part of a systemized, white supremacy agenda, squarely directed at low-income workers. The Mississippi plants had recently unionized, taking steps towards more workers rights. No worker is a "burden on the government” and no immigrant is undeserving of the American dream as Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, would like you to believe.

Our government is failing to live up to the America we believe in: One where our policies should be rooted in dignity and respect for all. These assaults at every level - on their bodies, the people they love and their livelihoods - have sent families reeling.

The boldest long-term solution to reassure our communities that they are safe is to transform our outdated immigration laws and create a roadmap to full citizenship that is fair and equitable for all -- not by attacking the legal process to which all immigrants, no matter their income, have a right to be a part of. Legislators need to put forth concrete solutions that protect families, not fund the agencies that tear them apart.

The Trump administration will continue these hate-driven acts and the gross mistreatment of immigrants unless Congress refuses to give even one more dollar of funding to ICE, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Congress should not be in the business of writing blank checks that empower the administration to execute raids, implement bigoted rules, and strike fear in Latinx people and immigrants across the country. But in June, they approved $4.6 billion for DHS, which went toward additional enforcement agents and the creation of more detention centers. It wasn’t long after that President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly MORE announced that ICE would be conducting raids over the weekend and now we are seeing targeted attacks on legal immigrants.

The administration is not stopping. In fact, they are speeding up. It is past time for Congress to take action and hold the Trump administration accountable for the atrocities they are wreaking on migrant families across the country.

As an immigrant, it is clear to me that I have to show the same strength and resilience now that I had when I was a little girl migrating from El Salvador to the United States. I have to show my daughters, and my family, that despite the fear we are feeling, we are only going to build the America we want by facing it head on. We can and must do better as a country.

We have to use our voices to demand better from our legislators. We have to physically use our bodies to protest when Trump attacks us. It means we have to use our power to ensure that the leaders we elect to represent us -- at every level of government -- share our values and honor our humanity.

Congress should hold President Trump and his cronies accountable for their anti-immigrant rhetoric and racist policies that go against what we, as Americans of all colors and backgrounds, believe.

Sulma Arias is director of immigrant rights for Community Change.