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Immigrant Groups Ask "Now What?"

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Yana Paskova for NPR

Teary-eyed Rebecca Canalija, 57, waits for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to address the crowd in New York City on Tuesday. Canalija called Donald Trump's win "tragic" and said she is feeling depressed over it.

President-elect Donald Trump is visiting the White House Thursday to meet with President Barack Obama.

It is one of the first steps toward a transition of power. 

While supporters of Donald Trump are elated at his win, there are many in the nation's large and diverse immigrant community who are concerned.

Trump's rhetoric during the election about building a wall along the border with Mexico, deporting undocumented workers and banning Muslims from immigrating to the United States has worried people.

We'll talk to people from the immigrant community in Nevada about those fears and what they will do next.

DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS:

You are talking to people who are undocumented and some are under DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. What are they thinking?

Brenda Hernandez: They’re scared. I think we’re all scared. I don’t know what to say to them. I hope there is still that fire to do something about not letting Trump bully us. I hope that energy still exists in our community and that we won’t let him… we’ll put up a fight.

DACA protected people who were brought here as children from deportation. But President-Elect Trump could rescind that order. What do people covered under it do?

Support comes from

Mike Kagan: It is hard to say right now because we don’t know exactly what he’s going to do. But nothing that I can conceive of would be good for immigrants. I would actually say that the wall is the least of our problems. It became a very symbolic issue. But for those us who are immigrants or who care about immigrants and want this to be a tolerant society in the United States, we are on defense for the next four years.

Annette Magnus, Battle Born Progress

This wasn’t a red wave. This was a racist wave that swept through our country. Similar to what happened with Brexit. I’m scared and I have all the white privilege in the world and I’m scared. I’m scared for my friends. I’m scared for my immigrant friends. I’m scared for my undocumented friends. I’m scared for my LGBTQI friends. I’m scared for women.

I woke up in a world yesterday that reminded me as a woman, as a woman who is a leader, that I’m still not truly equal in this country because a woman was not able to be the highest leader in the land because I don’t think men wanted her to be.

There is a lot that went wrong on Tuesday night, and I’m very scared. But there is also a lot in Nevada that went right. In Nevada, we elected the first Latina senator ever in the history of the Senate. In Nevada, we elected man who is an immigrant from Mexico to go to Congress for us. In Nevada, we elected a woman who is Jewish to represent us in Congressional District 3. 

Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Temple Sinai

I honestly see my job as a religious leader, I know I share this with clergy all around the valley and beyond, that we’re trying to create a safe space for people who virulently disagree with each, nevertheless, to be in the same room with each other.

One of the worrying things is the two sides are putting down the other folks. If Democrats want to understand folks who voted for Trump then they really need to try to get in their shoes not just intellectually and objectively but really emotionally. 

What are the people the mosque telling you right now?

Athar Haseebullah: I think based on the stages of grief I don’t know if most people are in the anger stage or the bargaining stage or if we’ve already moved onto the depression stage.

I would say the mood and the morale is at an all-time low… I think most people view this as largely rural America and white America voting against us as individuals.

Caller Jade was unhappy that other women felt she had to vote for Hillary Clinton because is a woman.

Magnus: I totally agree with her. I think people who legitimately didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton and didn’t agree that’s very different than voting for or against her because she was a woman.

I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. I voted for Hillary Clinton because she was a candidate that I felt most strongly represented the values that I hold near and dear to my heart and she also happened to be a woman. 

You spoke to me the other day about creating an app to help people of color find a place to be safe. Inherent in that statement is that people of color are not safe:

Brent Holmes: As an African American there is a long history in this country of both marginalization and abuse and with the rise of Donald Trump there’s been very coded and less coded statements from him about the African-American community. There’s been a rise in hate groups, white nationalist groups.

This is not new to us, and because it is not new, pre-Civil Rights era we had things like the Green Book that would tell us where we could travel, if you going on vacation in America, free from groups that want to persecute you. This was just the way of life for black people and if we need to return to then we need to design structure around that.  

Caller Jaqueline is disappointed in the election. She is fearful because is Latina and is the mother to a biracial child. She wonders if things like education and healthcare will become privileges. She wonders if she and her family are going to be safe:

Holmes: As far as being afraid, there is a lot of unknown and that always inspires fear. This has always been the undercurrent of this country. The original sin of this country has always been bigotry, racial hatred. If it’s now just coming to the surface… it always comes up anytime we have any progress. If we have to look it in the eye again and we have to beat it back again, that’s how it works in America.

Caller Dennis said he has friends who came to the United States illegally from Asia, but he says if they’re here illegally and deported that is a risk they know about and should understand.

Kagan: That is probably sound legal advice but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the personal circumstances. I think that depends a lot on why you came here. I’ve had clients in this situation where going home is not so bad.

But if you have fled from gang violence in [Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador], if you have fled from extreme poverty or if all of your family is here. Your mother is here and she’s getting old. You realize: ‘If I don’t come now I’ll miss the last years of her life.” It becomes a lot hard to say I’ll just go home.  

Caller Karen wants to know why there was such distain for political correctness during the campaign. She believes political correctness disallows speech towards ‘the other.’:

Cohen: In the case of political correctness, then I would absolutely stand up for political correctness. If you’re think about an argument to make with someone sitting opposite from you who doesn’t believe in political correctness, the essence of the argument is that when you’re being politically correct you’re essentially saying that you actually care about words, you care about speech, you care about how other people feel emotionally. 

Caller Tony said that voters didn’t care about Hillary Clinton’s emails or Donald Trump’s controversial statements. He said they didn’t care but were so angry that they elected an unpredictable man into the White House:  

Haseebullah: Absolutely! I don’t even think it was a question about they didn’t care and they were just angry. These are people who in large part had deep-seeded xenophobic views and the benefit for those of us who live in urban cities like Las Vegas… we’re in a melting pot. We have exposure to other groups. We have diverse environments. These are our friends and neighbors.

If you go out into rural American, which is largely Trump’s base, these are largely individuals who don’t have that exposure and then went based on the rhetoric. 

Caller Alex is the son of an illegal immigrant and served the military. He said he voted for Donald Trump. He said he is frustrated with people who want to help the Hispanic community but end up doing more damage. He feels that DACA lead to waves of unaccompanied children crossing the border. And he feels that a secure border will create the economic pressure needed to create immigration reform in this country:

Kagan: I do appreciate Alex’s question. We get this question a lot. I can see why people perceive there is a connection between DACA and the influx of unaccompanied children, but if you look closely at it, they’re clearly not related. Those children are not eligible for DACA. They’re recent arrivals. The influx is from three specific countries that have especially horrendous levels of violence. If it were triggered by the DACA annoucement we would be seeing people from all parts of Central America and Mexico, but we're not. 

Caller Rosita said many of her family who voted for Trump echo a problem in the Latino community that they made it across the border now shut the doors. She said they don’t care about the people who are crossing the border right now or about the people who are undocumented and in the shadows.

Kagan: Many people may not realize – especially in a city as diverse as Las Vegas – how much they are interacting with undocumented immigrants every day because they are so much a part of our daily life here.

I’ve heard people say: ‘you should tell people they’re going to be safe.’ I can’t as a lawyer say that they are. 

Caller Martha said she is Latina and voted for Trump. She responded to another caller who said Trump supporters were ‘haters.’ She said they are not haters and she doesn’t want to see anyone deported. :

Hernandez: I know and I realize there are some Trump supporters that don’t feel the same way Trump feels and a lot of his supporters. If you look at the rallies that happened, there were lots of people – especially Trump supporters who said: Get out of my country.

Although there are some Trump supporters who don’t feel that way, there are lot of people that do and that’s why it is so scary because there are people who do feel that we don’t belong.   

 

Guests

Brenda Hernandez, Planned Parenthood; Mike Kagan, law professor, UNLV Boyd School of Law; Annette Magnus, Battle Born Progress; Rabbi Malcolm Cohen, Temple Sinai; Athar Haseebullah, attorney at trustee, Masjid Ibrahim mosque; Brent Holmes, graphic artist, Desert Companion 

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