Hispanics and Muslims in North Texas reacted with fear to news Wednesday of Donald Trump’s victory, but that emotion was soon replaced by resolve to protect the rights of people in their communities.
“We have that much more work to do,” said Gloria Gonzalez-Garcia, a Fort Worth mother whose parents and grandparents were immigrants from Mexico. “We have to stand up and defend these people. We can’t just leave them.”
Trump’s presidential campaign was described by many Hispanics, immigrants and Muslim advocates as a show of bigotry. His vows to “build a wall” and tighten the nation’s borders united many of his supporters but alienated many in the Hispanic community. Trump also called for banning all Muslims from entering the United States and in the days before the election garnered media attention by singling out Somali refugees in Minnesota.
“We were getting absolute rejection,” said Gonzalez-Garcia. “We were getting the message, ‘If you are not white, you don’t belong here.’ ”
Gonzalez-Garcia is among Hispanics worried that the Trump administration will move to target immigrants by terminating a program that has allowed young people who were raised in this country without legal status to live and work legally.
Many Muslims share similar fears. “We are under no illusions that a Trump presidency will look any different than a Trump campaign,” said Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Dallas-Fort Worth chapter.
1.3 million the estimated number of young people ages 15 and up who are eligible for DACA, according to the Migration Policy Institute
Manochehr Dorraj, a professor of international affairs at TCU who teaches Islam studies and politics, said there is understandably anxiety and uncertainty in these communities based on the political rhetoric that characterized Trump’s campaign. But he pointed out that candidates often move to the political center once elected because they must govern everyone.
“He is now president of all Americans,” Dorraj said, adding that in upcoming weeks people should listen for a softening of the rhetoric and watch whom Trump considers for his Cabinet positions.
Trump himself urged unity during his victory speech early Wednesday.
“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
But his immigration platform during his campaign stated that he would “immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties.”
It added: “All immigration laws will be enforced — we will triple the number of ICE agents. Anyone who enters the U.S. illegally is subject to deportation. That is what it means to have laws and to have a country.”
The main programs in question referred to executive orders by President Barack Obama that allowed hundreds of thousands of young people to work and live in this country without fear of deportation. The first program focused on young people who arrived in this country without legal status as children but who now protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, commonly known as DACA.
The road to freedom is an uphill one. Successes are never given. They are won. We will continue our fight and we will continue to keep the American dream alive in this country.
Jonathan Ryan, executive director of RAICES in San Antonio
Obama expanded that program in 2014, removing the age 30 limit, allowing those who have lived in the U.S. since 2010 to apply, and increasing the length of work permits from two years to three.
Obama also added, DAPA, or Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, which aims to protect about 4.1 million unauthorized immigrants nationwide. It is designed to allow them to apply for work permits, provided they are either parents of U.S.-born children or legal permanent residents, have passed a background check and have paid fees.
3.3 million Muslims of all ages were estimated to be living in the United States in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center.
Jonathan Ryan, an immigration attorney in San Antonio, said removing the two programs would have “titanic political and economic ramifications.” It would mean separating families and taking away the work permits of productive young people.
The Migration Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., estimates that more than 728,000 people have protection under DACA.
José Manuel Santoyo, a student at Southern Methodist University, can study and live in the United States because of DACA. Even though he couldn’t vote, he helped Hispanic immigrants get registered and be informed about where to go vote.
“It was personal to us,” he said.
Maria Robles, an immigration advocate in Arlington, said hers is typical of many immigrant families. Some members are now born in the United States. Some, like Robles work with the protection of a permit, while others have no status.
As the election results turned in Trump’s favor, Robles’ 11-year-old daughter was scared.
“I don’t want our family to be separated,” she told Robles.
Salem said people in the North Texas’ Muslim community were broken and contacting her organization. “We are getting people who are really scared. A lot of parents are really worried because their kids are scared.”
Still, she said, the Muslim community is forgiving and many will want to work with Trump to have a seat at the table.
“We are getting people who are ready to roll up their sleeves,” Salem said.
This report includes material from the the Star-Telegram archives.