Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech was bound to make national waves. Seeing as Trump has been known to be pretty polarizing when he speaks, there were worries that he might go “off script” and say something detrimental. I wasn’t sure what he was going to say, but I was almost positive that I wasn’t going to like it. Was that an unfair bias, maybe, but I was right.
I took the opportunity to live tweet the event to all of my 86 followers! While Trump was reiterating his regular rhetoric, I was sharing my opinions to my very few dozens of patrons (btw, follow me on twitter 😊). If you were following along (wishful thinking), you were probably watching the spectacle like this…
Or like this…
Or possibly even like this…
Going I figured he would go his usual spiel of how he’s the best that ever was to do whatever he did that was better than the way anyone else ever did it history. It’s no secret that Trump lives in hyperbole. I also expected him to pat himself on the back for the few legislative wins, the biggest being the enormous tax breaks that will disproportionately benefit the .1%.
Of course, I knew that he was going to throw shady jabs at public causes that oppose him like the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements. And while I’m sure he truly believes that he is the sole reason for the low unemployment rates, particularly in communities largely made up of people of color, his braggadocio of his “accomplishments” was almost more than I could stomach. I found immense pleasure in the fact the members of the Congressional Black Caucus were as unimpressed as I was.
I didn’t even get too upset when he, once again, goaded North Korea into a nuclear war. Believe me when I say, I saw this coming. All of that was fine, gross, but fine. What I found particularly egregious in Trump’s speech was when he chose to exploit victims of some of the worst tragedies imaginable just to push his agenda. He used his usual fear mongering tactics in order to get his talking points across.
He showcased war veterans to emphasize his idea that we need more military funding. He paraded an amputee who lost his legs while he was escaping, you guessed it, North freaking Korea, and used him as an example for his own agenda for immigration reform. Mind you, this wasn’t even 5 minutes after he ranted about how we needed more border security because our immigration problem is out of control.
Which brings to the worst part, the part the literally made me want to vomit where I sat. It is no secret that Trump has very divisive views of the kind of immigrants we allow into the country. It is also no secret that he has used DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act, as a bargaining chip to fund his border wall, as was played out in the impending government shutdown shortly after this address. Trump has made no efforts to hide his disdain for immigrants of Hispanic descent, or any culture in which the population is generally darker than a paper bag.
So when he brought up the parents of 2 young girls that were slain at the hand of one the most ruthless gangs coming out of Mexico as a cautionary tale as to why undocumented immigrants and chain migration are the worst, most dangerous things that could to us in this country, I was too through. Below is an excerpt taken directly from Trump’s speech regarding this tragedy and his reasoning for why it happened:
“Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters — Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens — were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors ‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.”
Ok, first of all, fun fact: according to Snopes.com, MS-13 originated in Los Angeles and they were just a bunch of Latino immigrants that were really into heavy metal music in the 70’s. Eventually, after the crack epidemic in the 80’s and the increased insurgence of violence throughout the 90’s, these headbangers hardened up. That is not to take away from the heinous act that the perpetrated on these two young girls and the pain that it caused their families. However, Trump has a habit of picking out the worst examples of a situation and exploiting it until it becomes the new narrative.
Trump made two very important statements in this section of his speech. He “pointed out” the loopholes in our immigration policy, referring to chain migration, which is a legal form of immigration. Chain migration is the notion that family members can vouch for each other to enter the country and work on a path towards citizenship. He also made sure to say that these people entered the country as “unaccompanied minors.” Clearly referring to DACA recipients who have entered the country as young children. And if that wasn’t clear enough, he concluded that section of his speech by saying, “Because Americans are dreamers too.”
This portion of Trump’s speech was clearly targeted at the people he feels don’t deserve to be here. Mind you, DACA was a fully funded and bipartisan supported bill until Trump rescinded it last year. Since he had rescinded DACA, and so close to the deadline of close to 800,000 of the recipients possibly losing their status and being deported to countries that they never knew, the idea has become all too real for those who will be affected. And before you say, “But they’re illegal immigrants draining our economy,” may I inform you that in order for someone to receive DACA benefits, they must either be enrolled in school or working full time. Many of them pay government taxes, earn high ranking college degrees (i.e. Masters & Doctorates), and many of them even own business and create jobs in their communities. They are law abiding contributors to society but because of their undocumented status, their futures here are not secure, no matter how many degrees they earn or how many jobs they create.
The effects of Trump’s regime have already begun. Since he has been in office, ICE officers have arrested over 140,000 people for immigration status issues. People who have been in this country for 30+ plus years, doing everything right, following every law and guideline, have been uprooted and sent to a country that they do not know. For example, Jorge Garcia, a husband and father of two, Detroit resident for over 30 years, his wife is a US citizen, his children are US citizens. He was checking in with immigration officers regularly regarding his status. Unfortunately, his lawyer filed the wrong paperwork and though he was previously granted multiple stays of deportation, over the Thanksgiving holiday, he deported back to Mexico, despite being in the United States since he was 10 years old, maintained steady employment, and broke no laws.
But it’s not Mexicans and Latin communities this is affecting. In January, ICE officials deported a Palestinian man who had been in the country for almost 40 years. Amer Othman Adi, was a business owner, tax payer, law abiding member of society. He had a wife who was a citizen and four daughters. After being held in a detention center for 2 weeks, his green card was revoked and he was deported. Even the local government representative was fighting against him being deported, but that did nothing to change the outcome.
During his campaign, Donald Trump gained favor among his supporters by playing up immigration reform. He said he would strengthen our borders, but he also said that would only target the worst of worst, the dangerous criminals, the worst society had to offer. Unfortunately, in Trump’s opinion, anyone from one of the countries he deemed as “shitholes” are only the worst of the worst. No one coming from Mexico or Palestine is good enough to be here. Trump’s words have given credence to the underlying racism and bigotry that has been lying dormant underneath the surface. Now, our government has no issue tearing apart working families and positive contributors to society. It seems as though in this administration, everyone is an enemy.