Voices of the New Majority ~ Mario Castillo

Mario Castillo


How Trump’s election is affecting the immigrant community

Posted on December 3, 2016 by Mario Castillo

The morning of November 9 here in Sonoma you could breathe the air of uncertainty as people learned that Donald Trump had been elected to the presidency of the United States. It was unmistakably a harsh blow to the Hispanic community, who throughout the electoral campaign had maintained the hope that this man who from the outset had shown his racism toward minorities would not win.

The real estate magnate entered the race in June of 2015 with a speech in which he called undocumented Mexicans “criminals” and “rapists.”

The Republican had delighted his followers since the beginning of his campaign with his promise of building a wall on the Mexican border which he would make the Mexican government pay for. The biggest ovations during his campaigning came when he talked about the wall, and promised to expel from the country all the undocumented, estimated to be 11 million.

He also proposes to rescind president Barack Obama’s executive orders that protect from deportation the undocumented young people who were brought to this country as children (the “dreamers”), as well as parents of children who are U.S. citizens or have legal status here. Furthermore he proposes to get rid of everyone who is living in the U.S. without legal status by forcing them to “self-deport.”

How will this all affect emigrants living here in Sonoma Valley? In truth, the effects have been felt since the day he won the election. Some joke about it, others share their concerns, but the worry is palpable.

Conversation about what’s going to happen is inevitable on the social networks. Talk about which of the threats will he act on, and how it will affect the immigrant community. Some people are commenting about how difficult it is to be prepared when you don’t know when or how the “attack” will be launched.

Organizations and individuals who work with emigrants find themselves under the same cloud of concern and uncertainty.

A week after the election La Luz Center organized a meeting to give people the opportunity to share their feelings. Attendees included business and store owners, law enforcement officers, immigration lawyers and community leaders. Unquestionably the gathering served to demonstrate that there is an interested and concerned community. But at the same time it showed the frustration at not knowing what will happen.

Some of the participants suggested various ways we could prepare ourselves, such as better educating people about their rights, developing more connections with people in the larger community, and looking out for each other.

It’s my belief that the best solution is for the city of Sonoma to declare itself a sanctuary city for immigrants. Such an action, even though it is symbolic, sends a clear message to anyone who threatens to attack the immigrant community. It is taking the unequivocal position that in this community not only are immigrants welcome, but that everyone, starting with our political leaders, will do everything within their reach to protect them.

 –translated by Anna Pier

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA