Latino leaders: Trump’s hatred goes beyond DACA and throwing kids in cages
Lenita Reason, center, originally from Brazil, stands with her son Michael, left, while displaying a placard, Aug. 14, 2019, during a demonstration outside federal court, in Boston. The protest was held to call attention to the Trump administration's campaign to end temporary protected status, or TPS, for tens of thousands of immigrants nationwide. | Steven Senne / AP

It’s not just DACA. And it’s not just having ICE agents yanking little kids away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border and throwing them into cages.

No, leaders of top Hispanic-American organizations say, GOP President Donald Trump’s hate of anyone with a Hispanic name, the undocumented, migrants, and asylum seekers extends far beyond those two high-profile issues.

And that hurts the U.S. now and will hurt even more so in the future, they warn, as Latinos become one-third of the future workforce, but not if Trump throws them out or bars and scares them from migrating and settling in the first place.

The leaders, convened by Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit organization dedicated to registering Latinos to vote and ensuring they do so, met via Zoom in a side session on Aug. 18 during the Democratic National Convention.

Moderator Hector Sanchez, former executive director of the AFL-CIO constituency group Labor’s Coalition for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), joined Janet Murguía, CEO of UnidosUS, Thomas Saenz, chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, Frederick Isasi of Families USA, and noted actress Cristela Alonso in the discussion.

Alonso’s put her career on hold to devote herself to issues affecting Hispanic-Americans, particularly in her native Rio Grande River valley, including El Paso, and to bring a personal perspective to issues often discussed abstractly.

In just one example, she noted millions rely on the U.S. Postal Service to promptly deliver needed medicines—and Trump is starving the USPS of needed money so that it can’t handle the millions of expected mail ballots this year.

“I’m a type-2 diabetic, and I get my medicine through the mail. I’m afraid it won’t come on time” due to delays imposed by new Trump-named Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major GOP donor. “My life shouldn’t be put aside because someone’s afraid of losing an election.”

And while the organizations are non-partisan and non-political, they all united around the common theme that Trump’s actions hurt Latinos in a wide range of ways, now and in the future. “Under this administration, the level of exclusion is getting worse,” said Sanchez.

Those harms include a “citizens first” mindset and policy which explicitly excludes Spanish-speakers, Saenz said. Trump has “defined his administration by hostility to Latinos,” Saenz said.

There was such a wide range of economic, educational, health, and immigration harms that participants didn’t even mention Trump’s racist Mexican border wall during the first hour of the 90-minute session.

The others noted Trump’s hate predates his oath of office, harkening back to his 2015 candidacy announcement, where he called Mexicans at the border “rapists” and “murderers.” It also predates his presidential run, though the panelists did not say so.

In her book about Trump being the world’s most dangerous man, his niece Mary said racial slurs were common around the Trump dining room table, and unchallenged, when he, his siblings, and their kids were growing up.

And when Trump built several casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., he stiffed construction firms he hired, and their heavily Hispanic workers, of pay. The firms had to sue.

But the panelists instead cited Trump regime policies and statements harming Hispanic-Americans, migrants, asylum seekers, and the undocumented ever since he took the oath of office. Trying to deport all 700,000 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients was only a start.

Then Trump followed it up with trying to force a million Temporary Protected Status (TPS) visa-holders, some of whom have lived in the U.S. for two decades or more, out of the U.S. Not all TPS recipients are Latino, but data show a majority are.

Painters President Kenneth Rigmaiden leads a union coalition defending the TPS recipients, tens of thousands of them union members, especially in the Building Trades.

Trump’s “rhetoric has created an unprecedented level of chaos and fear” in the community, said Saenz. “It was intended and designed to drive people out of our country who are critical to our economy.”

Trump extended his hate, the panelists said, by denying asylum, a nationally and internationally recognized right, to refugees arriving at the Mexican-U.S. border. There, his Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents operate and often split parents from kids. They do the same thing to undocumented people, producing protests, investigations, and lawsuits here and abroad.

His latest spasm of hate came in an executive order, which panelists predicted will be tossed out of court, just like the U.S. Supreme Court tossed Trump’s DACA ban. His order says undocumented people should not be included in census figures used to determine representation in Congress and state legislatures.

That’s unconstitutional, the panel noted. So was his prior attempt to add a nativist question to the 2020 Census questionnaire. It would have chilled Latinos from participating in the decennial national nose count. The justices tossed that scheme out, too.

“The economy is really relevant” added Murguía “and the fallout from the (coronavirus) pandemic has only made the situation much more dire” for Latinos. “The actions of this administration have set us back at least ten years.”

Besides that, she noted, many Latinx people are in “essential” jobs, in grocery stores, warehouses, in slaughterhouses and driving trucks, to keep food on U.S. tables and the economy going. But those workers still lack personal protective equipment (PPE) against the pandemic, thanks to Trump’s refusal to combat the virus, she added.

But even before Trump, economic policies, especially the lack of legal status in the U.S., hurt Latino

people, she explained. The current depression led to disproportionate firings and layoffs of Latinos and other people of color, and it comes on top of a 2017 $2 trillion Trump-GOP tax cut that funneled funds away from those communities and to the ultra-rich and corporations.

“And he’s put a chokehold on loans” that would help people buy homes and start businesses, she noted, by weakening the anti-redlining Community Reinvestment Act and “gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” and its crackdown on payday lenders and high-interest auto loan companies.

The solution to these problems is to register and vote, all the leaders agreed. “We have to vote for leaders who will move our community and our country forward” and against those who don’t, said Murguía.

That means leaders who will pass HR6800, the House-passed HEROES Act, which includes money to solve some of the problems Latinos face, and to expand SNAP aid, also known as food stamps, to hungry families.

HR6800 also continues a ban on evictions from federally-funded housing. It also, Saenz pointed out, would remove another instance of discrimination: The ban on supplemental $600 weekly federal unemployment checks going to all wage-earners in any “mixed” family, where one filed a tax return showing he/she is not a citizen or green-card holder.

And it means ousting not just Trump, but his GOP enablers, Murguía said.

“Congress is supposed to offer leadership” where a president does not, she explained. “But we’ve seen no effort by the Senate Republican leadership to put in check this president’s draconian, immoral policies.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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