The 2016 US presidential election
I’m a Canadian and I’m Applying for U.S. Citizenship
The 2016 presidential election was one of the most divisive events in recent U.S. history. For the first time since 2000, the president elect did not win the popular vote. Numbers aside, Trump’s opinions and policies have ignited several debates surrounding racism, immigration and citizenship. In Kachroo-Levine’s “I’m a Canadian and I’m Applying for U.S. Citizenship”, she voices her hesitation with being sworn in as a citizen while Trump is in power. She mentions his plans to deport millions, his record of sexual assault accusations, and fears being stopped on the street for merely being a person of color (Kachroo-Levine, 1-2). Trump’s hateful and racist rhetoric has fueled white nationalist groups, increased racial-based violence, and threatened potential citizenship for immigrants from countries perceived to be dangerous.
White nationalist groups were already on the rise during Obama’s presidency; Trump merely emboldened them. Trump’s ability to get away with hate speech and anti-immigration sentiment, to the point of virtual celebration, has encouraged white nationalists to assemble at an alarming rate. Richard Spencer, white supremacist and leader of the National Policy Institute proclaims they have been “legitimized” by the election and that the election of Trump has brought the so-called Alt-Right to “…a new level” (Posner). In fact, The growth of hate groups has made the U.S. an increasingly unsafe place for people of color, especially immigrants.
The surge of hate groups in America since the Obama administration directly correlates with the escalation of race-based hate crimes. According to a 2016 study by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism, there was a 20% increase of hate crimes within nine U.S. metropolitan areas (Smith, Trotta). Trump’s anti-immigration stance, coupled with his overt threats of deportation, are inciting record high levels of violence against people of color. His words and actions are not merely making America unsafe for immigrants and non-citizens, but for anyone who could stereotypically be perceived as such. Specifically, America is becoming increasingly dangerous for Muslims, regardless of their citizenship or country of birth. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported anti-muslim hate groups rose from 34 in 2015, to 101 in 2016 (SPLC). In 2015, which is the year that Trump began his campaign, the FBI reported a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims (SPLC). To make matters worse, Trump issued executive order 13769 on January 27, 2017; also known as the Muslim Ban. Although the ban on travel from seven counties was rescinded on March 16, Muslim travellers continue to face residual consequences, in and outside of airports.
In addition to the dangers faced by the rise in hate crimes, many of society’s most vulnerable immigrant groups now face the threat of deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was rescinded by the Trump administration in September 2017. DACA allowed undocumented immigrants who entered the United States to gain a work permit and a renewable deferred action from deportation. Those immigrants who are protected under DACA are currently unsure of their future in this country. Hate crimes, immigration and the right to obtain citizenship are further linked due in large part to white nationalist groups. William Regnery, the founder of the white supremacist National Policy Institute, credits Trump for making “…it more acceptable to talk about ‘white dispossession,’” (Posner). White nationalists are genuinely afraid of people of color (re: immigrants) “replacing” them in America. This ridiculous and imagined threat is the source for many of the hate crimes and speech that are currently affecting non-white Americans, as well as immigrants.
Although America is lauded as a “melting pot”, many groups have differing opinions on who does or does not belong. Trump’s election to office has undeniably caused an increase in racism, white nationalism, and hate crimes. Kachroo-Levine explains her fears while Trump is in power: “Conceivably, in the Trump era, I could be stopped in the street as a nonwhite person and asked to produce proof of residency,” (Kachroo-Levine). Although the American political climate is tumultuous at best, all hope is not lost for a more inclusive future. A poll conducted by Gallup reveals that only 35% of the U.S. population wants immigration to be decreased: “Though preventing illegal immigration was one of the president’s key campaign promises, the general desire to decrease immigration is near its historic low in Gallup’s trend over more than half a century.” (McCarthy).
“Hate Groups Increse For Second Consecutive Year as Trump Electrifies Radical Right.”
Southern Poverty Law Center, 15 Feb. 2017, https://www.splcenter.org/news /2017/ 02/
Accessed November 11, 2017.
Kachroo-Levine, Maya. “I’m a Canadian and I’m Applying for U.S. Citizenship.” Time, 10 Nov.
2016, time.com/4566968/canadian-us-citizenship/. Accessed November 11, 2017.
McCarthy, Justin. “Overall U.S. Desire to Decrease Immigration Unchanged in 2017.” Gallup, 27
June 2017, http://news.gallup.com/poll/212846/overall-desire- decrease-immigration-
Unchanged-2017.aspx. Accessed November 11, 2017.
Posner, Sarah. “’Radically Mainstream’: Why the Alt-Right Is Celebrating Trump’s Win.” Rolling
Stone, 28 Nov. 2016, www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/ why-the -alt-right- is-
Celebrating-trumps-win-w452493. Accessed November 11, 2017.
Smith, Grant, and Daniel Trotta.” U.S. hate crimes up 20 percent in 2016 fueled by election
campaign-Report.” Reuters, 13 Mar. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-crime-hate/
0BO. Accessed Novemeber 11, 2017.