In the days leading up to Trump’s inauguration, Fusion is highlighting some of the issues most important to you. In addition to breaking down where Trump stands on those issues and the organizations and people are battling him, we’ve got a handy guide for how you too can support the fight. Today, we’re tackling immigration.
When Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign in June of 2015, he wasted no time laying bare his feelings about immigration—in fact, he led with it. Trump riled up a crowd by telling them, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you.” He continued, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” though he acknowledged that, “some, I assume, are good people.”
Despite being offered many opportunities to walk his statements back, Trump never did. Instead, he doubled down on his assertion that immigration and crime are linked, a claim that has been refuted multiple times, and whipped his supporters into a frenzy over the promise of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. It was a tried-and-true strategy—harnessing the power of xenophobia to appeal to an electorate insecure about their financial and social status—and it worked. Trump hasn’t wavered in his commitment to building his great wall, but the question of who would pay for it is still up in the air. (That assertion that Mexico would pay for it? Not fucken’ likely.)
But there are other things Trump can do to damage immigration reform. He has promised to deport around 3 million undocumented immigrants—possibly more—and vowed to end employment for undocumented residents. The president-elect could undo substantial progress the Obama administration has made in reversing the U.S. Border Patrol’s “culture of violence and impunity.” Trump could also flex a lot of executive muscle on immigration, including beefing up enforcement of deportation orders and mandating high-level scrutiny of visa applicants from certain countries (aka a “moderate” ban on Muslims entering the U.S., a proposal that gained traction after he falsely claimed Syrian refugees weren’t vetted before entering the country). His Attorney General pick, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, known for his problematic record on immigrants and immigrant rights, signals that Trump’s anti-immigrant proposals weren’t just empty campaign promises.
The fight for immigrant rights will be a battle fought on local fronts through churches, schools, and government reps, and on the national front through a number of nonprofits that have pledged to champion the cause, like Define American, which seeks to improve media portrayals of immigrant issues through thoughtful, fact-based engagement.
Larger, more established organizations like the ACLU have also vowed to take Trump to court should he try to make good on his immigration promises.
Building a wall—or bolstering the fence that already exists—requires an act of Congress, or at the very least a budget line item. Since members on both sides of the aisle have opposed Trump’s immigration proposals, this is one issue your local representative needs to hear from you about. Democratic lawmakers could also block new Trump regulations through lengthy (and costly) legal battles—but these would be fought primarily through your state’s attorney general. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to get in contact with them too.
Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have gained widespread support for their commitment to providing sanctuary for immigrants. Check to see if your city is among them, and if not lobby your mayor or councilperson directly to get them to affirm their support of immigrant residents (it wouldn’t hurt if you circulated their numbers among your friends, either).
Attend your local school board meetings and voice your support for the children of immigrants—both undocumented and otherwise. Ask your teachers, principal, superintendent, or university student government organization what they’re doing to support undocumented students. And if church is your thing, it wouldn’t hurt talking to your pastor (or rabbi, or imam) about community-based campaigns your fellow congregants can take part in.
You can engage in community work and support a nationwide initiative by joining a local chapter of Define American or the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and taking part in one of their campaigns, or become a member of National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Latinx and Asian American orgs are also leading the charge on immigration rights; consider donating to an organization like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund or the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, which specifically addresses the disproportionate impact immigration policies have on women.
- How to find your congressman
- How to contact your attorney general
- Define American
- Fair Immigration Reform Movement
- National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
- Mexican American Legal Defense fund
- National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum
- Trump’s proposed immigration policies
- This Jeff Sessions exchange on immigration shows why people are so scared about him (Fusion)
- Yes, Trump will build his border wall. Most of it is already built. (Washington Post)
Up next on How to Survive Trump’s America: Come back tomorrow to find out how to support inclusive, public education under Trump’s presidency.