Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Immigrants Deserve Respect From Our President

Courtesy of Furman Athletics

Folk legend Woody Guthrie wrote his iconic song “This Land is Your Land” in Feb. 1940. Initially, Guthrie wrote the toon in quip to “God Bless America,” and his politically charged lyrics became an anthem for the counterculture movements of the 50’s and 60’s. Today they ring true more than ever before, as controversial words from President Trump have undermined American principles.

On Jan. 11th, in a meeting concerning the controversial Dream Act (DACA), President Trump reportedly questioned “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

Despite denying the ignorant comments, Trump has nearly no credibility with American citizens outside of his core base of supporters. Since stepping onto the political stage, Trump has resorted to constant, outright denial of any negative opinion, and he has continuously attacked the minority to strengthen his own position.

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” he said in regard to Mexican immigrants on Jun. 16, 2015.

What’s more, according to the “failing” New York Times, Trump has gone as far as to claim that Haitians “all have AIDS” and that people from Nigeria would never “go back to their huts” if they came to the United States. In any other presidency, such remarks would make headlines. However, under Trump, they are hardly surprising.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people,” Dr. Martin Luther King said during the Civil Rights movement.

We, as American citizens, must not be silent. More than strident clamor, Trump’s rhetoric reveals a xenophobic worldview that has real consequences. To be blunt, President Trump is a powerful, racist man.

These consequences include a ban on immigrants from various Muslim-majority countries, efforts to terminate DACA—a program protecting nearly 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants from deportation—criticism of NFL players for peacefully protesting the national anthem, and a refusal to condemn white supremacists that marched in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In Nov., the Trump administration rescinded protection from deportation for 60,000 Haitians who entered the United States after the catastrophic earthquake in 2010. Now, provisional residency permits for nearly 200,000 Salvadorians who have lived in the United States since at least 2001 are also on the chopping block.

“It is scary, you know. You can’t predict the future, but my family and I are scared,” admitted Rocky Guerrero, a Furman student and Salvadorian affected by the Dream Act.

“El Salvador is not perfect, it has crime like any other place, but you get a different perspective when you visit. It really is a beautiful country,” he said concerning Trump’s latest statement.

Trump’s conduct is a call to action, a reminder that in this new year we must continue to oppose Trump when he distorts and perverts American values. Why? Because Trump is damaging the international reputation of the United States. The United Nations and the African Union labeled Trump’s “shithole” outburst as racist, and even the Vatican criticized his words as “harsh and offensive.” In addition, Trump has undermined the values America was founded on, values that embraced immigrants as important contributors to democracy.

“We are a nation of immigrants who brought their love for America with them to this country. They have fought and continue to fight for educational and economic opportunities, and by doing so remind us that America must make room for all peoples regardless of faith, skin color or national origin. Their presence has the potential to create an enormous impact on our government and institutions by pushing us to constantly assess who we are as a nation and what our values are as a democracy,” said Dr. Diane Vecchio in a correspondence.

Long before Trump, Dr. King or Willy Guthrie came along, America was founded by immigrants. Today, immigrants remain one of our democracy’s greatest strengths. Trump, in contrast, threatens our democracy. His ignorant tone and intolerant policy are damaging America’s reputation as the land for you and me. For that reason, we cannot afford to stay silent.

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