Since Donald Trump began his presidency less than three months ago, hundreds of people have been taken away from their families, forbidden to go back to their homes, and labeled in our society as illegal. The real problem that we see is the dehumanization of people, from the government, and how the language that they use is detrimental to the way that these people are treated.
Donald Trump made very clear his stance on illegal immigration during his campaign. His campaign promises were to keep the bad “hombres” in Mexico by forcing them out of our country. He would get Mexico to pay for a wall that would have no benefit to them, and all of a sudden all of the problems that our “bigly” great country faced before would be alleviated. Donald Trump is just in phase one of his task to keep his promise to his supporters. We see the new legislation proposed by President Trump, and not only how much it would cost, but also how many of our 11 million undocumented immigrants would be captured, sent to ICE detention centers, and sent back to the country in which they fled for a better opportunity at life. An example that was brought to the world’s attention was when a woman with a brain tumor was taken from her hospital bed, sent to a detention center, separated from other detainees, and was not receiving adequate medical attention. What does this mean? It means that we’ve gotten to a point where we value citizenship over humanity. We’ve finally reached the point where we stop caring that these are living breathing people, and care more about our own selfish needs as a country. We’ve become the very monsters that fear from other countries.
The language that Donald Trump uses to talk about undocumented immigrants has always been a problem. He called them rapists and criminals at the jump off of his very controversial campaign. Even on twitter during his presidency, he still talks about these people as if they themselves are illegal. The dehumanizing rhetoric that Donald Trump uses on these people is deplorable. A person, just for existing, cannot be illegal. A person in the United States, however, can be undocumented, which is extremely easy in our country to get confused by especially when our president doesn’t even acknowledge them as people. A February tweet acknowledging his plans for immigration enforcement was extremely troubling. It said, “The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers & others are being removed!
Within the tweet he categorizes normal law abiding citizens, possibly with families, as “& others” as if, because they hadn’t committed an actual crime they don’t deserve a shout out. This type of talk is hurtful and should not be tolerated by American people that support equality. The vile language that he used is precisely how to single out and oppress a certain group of people. Portray them in the media as less than human, play into people’s fears of how those “criminals” and “bad dudes” are, persuade the people that have no interaction with them in their everyday lives so that they will begin to think that “that is what they actually act like,” “this is how most of them act.” Sound familiar? This means that people, who would otherwise have had no interaction with an immigrant, draw a one-sided and bias conclusion about the integrity of an entire group of people, similar to the portrayal of black men and women in social and news media. Donald Trump is using propaganda of how these people act to persuade us into being on his side. However, we have to neglect that type of rhetoric because it is that that turns us into the monsters that we all fear to be.
Along with the catastrophic rhetoric he used, he also is implementing real laws to get them out. This is no longer our entertainment, but what is ACTUALLY happening. Before Donald Trump’s newest proposed law, the only immigrants the government ICE agents were looking vividly to find and deport were those undocumented immigrants that had committed crime. In order for Donald Trump to deliver on his campaign promises, that he continues to push through, he is going to have deport all 11 million+ of our immigrants. He plans on adding additional 10,000 border patrol agents and another 5,000 ICE agents within the next couple of years, he also wants new detention facilities for them, while simultaneously raising our defense budget, cutting taxes, and fulfilling all his other promises to the American people. This could end up being just like the “great wall” we’re promised that the price would be little to nothing to the average American; but then we find out that we’re taking the entire bill ourselves, with no help from other countries, a multitude of broken promises exist, and not only that, but we end up facing the problem that our tax dollars are forcing us to support the expulsion of these people.
So what’s the way to reject the rhetoric? By getting out and protesting to protect those that cannot protect themselves. By making them feel as safe as possible because they should be protected. By asking yourself “if I were to change out the phrase “illegal immigrant” and add “Jew” would I sound like a Nazi?” If the answer is yes, refrain from saying whatever you would say. We as a people have to draw the very distinctive line between where capitalism just is not worth it anymore. We as a people have to encourage equality. I think frequently about the rhetoric that I use and how I can change it to be more inclusive. I try to wipe the word “illegal” out of my vocabulary when talking about people. The way that undocumented immigrants are treated is bad enough. Parents are being taken from their children, children are watching their parents be taken away as if they are animals, they are forced into detention camps that have been described as worse than American prison, they’re labeled as criminals and taunted because of their status; the least we could do as half decent human beings is quit calling them illegal or anything other than something that acknowledges their humanity. It does not only affect them, it has significant effects on their children also. Try growing up as a second class citizen. The least we can do is quit calling them “aliens” as if they aren’t bred from the same planet and share the same genetic makeup as any other human.
Thank you for taking the time to read, “The Dehumanization of Immigrants in America” by Kara Smith. If you enjoyed this article or it has moved you in any way, please consider supporting the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at www.loweryinstitute.org. Let us be the change!