By Anthony Cifuentes, guest writer
Fear, worry, starvation, loneliness and a lack of wealth accompanied my mother and father as they migrated from Guatemala to California. My parents said the trip to get from Guatemala to America was approximately $15,000 per person, with no guarantee of safely arriving to America. During the month-long journey, my mother was pregnant. My parents sacrificed their culture, family and homeland to provide me and my brothers with a prosperous future. That was their American dream.
Without the ability to speak English, my parents weren’t able to find jobs right away, but they eventually found good paying work. At home, we are oftentimes limited in space and resources, but my mother’s motto has helped us cope: “God will provide, mijo.”
Now that my parents have achieved their American dream, they encourage us to do the same in pursuing higher education, finding a good job, a car and securing an apartment or house.
I’ve always believed in the American dream’s ability to lift my family out of our difficulty until our nation’s recent presidential election. Following the election results, I called my mom to hear her sobs through the telephone. My entire family cried on that day. I shed tears with them.
Prior to the election, my family, church, friends and I all agreed to pray for our nation’s future president. My extended family stayed up Tuesday night watching the news. My mother fears that Trump can revoke any government aid that low-income Latinos are receiving. My family is fortunate to have something to eat every day because of government-aid programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps to families in need, Medicare and the Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service. Without these resources, survival will literally be a daily challenge for my family, which consists of six people surviving on an income of under $20,000 per year. We are very thankful for our government and God.
Following the election results, my Facebook feed consisted of negative comments about Donald Trump. All my Hispanic friends from Los Angeles expressed their anger, frustration, worry and fear by posting threats and hate comments toward Trump including: “Donald Trump is not my president,” “I HATE Donald Trump” and “Donald Trump is not our president; it is a disease.” Though this language is volatile, and I do not support hate crimes of any kind, the anger behind these statements should be seen as valid.
In the third presidential debate, Trump referred to immigrants as “bad hombres” or bad men who “we’re going to get out.” It took until the third presidential debate for Trump to invoke Spanish culture and language, but unfortunately, his use of it only devalued, labeled and enhanced the typical stereotype for Latinos as lazy and dangerous criminals.
I am deeply broken by all the hatred Trump has expressed toward Hispanic people. I am worried about the future laws he will create. I am fearful of what he will do with the “bad hombres.” And I am frightened of what he will do with my immigrant family.
As a Christian, I understand that we are called to suffer on Earth. We will never be able to find peace, simply because we are not from here. We live on Earth but John 17:14 says we “are not of this world.” This verse has helped me keep my chin above water during the election season.
As we enter into a new year with a new President, the voice of my mother still echoes in my mind: “God will provide, mijo.”