A mother asks me, a New York City public school administrator, “Is Mr. Trump really racist, or just racist against Hispanics? ″
This NYC mom, who prefers to stay anonymous, is worried about her status in this country. Her story started a long time ago when she was only 6 years old. She was born at a time when the Guerilla war was at its worse in her native El Salvador. Like many other people, her parents decided to flee in order to pursue the American dream. While fleeing the country, her parents were shot in front of her as they crossed the Guatemala/Salvadorian border.
She tells me that a couple, whom she now calls parents, witnessed her biological parents’ murder. Feeling sorry for her and seeing her alone, they took her in and raised her as their own.
She grew up in El Salvador with the sadness of knowing what had happened to her parents and, although her adopted parents were kind to her, she missed her biological parents and always wondered how life would have been different if her parents were still alive.
She eventually married and thought that she had reached total happiness, until her husband decided ten years ago that they too needed to follow the American dream. She was horrified at the news. All the bad memories of her parents’ murder rushed back in and she feared for her and her husband’s safety.
Needless to say, they made it and set their roots in Brooklyn, NY. They have three children, all American citizens. Her husband, also an American citizen, was able to secure a decent paying job as taxi driver. And although she has been battling breast cancer for more than two years, she says, “Life is good. My husband was right. We have achieved the American dream! My kids are healthy and getting a good education.”
She says that that happy feeling changed after the election. “When Mr. Trump won, I started to cry,” she says. She now lives in fear of being deported. She has no legal papers and although is trying to obtain them, her process is more difficult than most because all of legal papers were lost in El Salvador. She has no birth certificate, and because her biological parents are dead and she does not know any aunts or uncles who can verify who she really is, she has been in limbo for quite some time.
During our conversation with tears in her eyes she says, “I really don’t know what I am going to do. Why does Mr. Trump hate Hispanic people? I don’t really think he is racist against all immigrants because two of his three wives are immigrants, Ivanna from the Czech Republic and his new wife from, Slovenia. I am at a loss. If I am deported, my children would have to move to Guatemala with me. I can’t leave them behind. They are doing well in school, their life is here.”
I am at a loss too. As an educator, what do I tell her? I have no real answers for her, except to hope that the powers that be don’t allow President-Elect Trump to put in place an immigration plan that would split so many families that are fully-contributing members of this society.