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  • Mugdha Gurram

The Stigma Attacking DACA

A recent meeting occurred between Donald Trump and a bipartisan group of six senators, who aimed to reach a compromise in immigration talks. As Senator Durbin explained the deal to remove visa lottery systems and allow Temporary Protected Status for immigrants from Haiti and El Salvador, President Trump commented on not wanting people from “s***hole countries” and suggested that the U.S. should focus on taking more immigrants from countries like Norway, a primarily white country.

Trump later defended himself by claiming his remarks had been misreported by Senator Durbin and assuring reporters that he was “the least racist” person they’d ever interviewed. But this is not the first time that president has had to defend himself against charges of racism. Last year Trump came under fire for his attacks on a federal judge who was of Mexican heritage and his comments about Mexican immigrants being “rapists,” as well as his previous comments against Haitian immigrants, who, he said, “all have AIDS”.

Such a pattern is cause for concern for anyone and particularly so when the source of the pattern is coming from the President of the United States . The president’s actions have consequences, both in shaping policy and shaping the attitudes surrounding policy, as well as the image that the United States portrays to the world. Already, Trump’s latest comment halted immigration talks to the point of a government shutdown and will later be influential in the way Congress handles immigration policy.

The president’s comments highlight a greater concern when it comes to immigration: the idea that the stigma associated with immigration lies not with all immigrants, but specifically with immigrants of color, and that the U.S.’s immigration policy might reflect that. They also bring up the concern that this administration is propagating a deliberate stigma for immigrants based on the their religion, skin color, and place of ethnicity.

For immigrants of color, particularly black immigrants, staying in the U.S. is accompanied by a whole host of problems associated with racism. Over 20% of immigrants facing deportation for criminal misdemeanors are black, according to a a 2016 report by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI) and New York University School of Law. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that they face deportation at a higher rate than any other immigrant group.

Beyond the issues with the racially charged comments, Trump’s slur also demonstrates a deep unwillingness to view these immigrants as people. He refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the countries they come from and refuses to be straightforward in his attitude towards DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and the people it protects. The DACA deliberations have left many Dreamers uncertain about their future in the United States; these fears have been worse as Trump has scrapped the progress made in DACA talks.

His comments mark not only the latest in a string of troubling remarks toward immigrants and people of color, but also yet another contribution to the air of uncertainty regarding the future of DACA and the people it protects.

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