As 2017 officially came to a close, many Latinx advocates looked back on a turbulent year and look forward with mixed emotions. From the Trump administration’s order on DACA to Hurricane Irma’s widespread destruction, this past year was full of challenges for the Latinx community, NBC News reports.
“For Latino immigrants, it was an unfortunate and ominous year,” Cristina M. Rodriguez, a professor at Yale University, told NBC News. “Ultimately the Trump administration may not result in more deportations than the Obama years, but we do know that this administration is trying to sow fear and reject common-sense measures for [undocumented] people who are otherwise law-abiding and contributing.”
In the first 90 days of the Trump presidency, there was a surge of immigration arrests, following an executive order regarding immigration enforcement. NBC News reports that non-criminal immigration arrests went up 250% in 2017. This, along with incidents like the pardon of Joe Arpaio, has created an uneasy feeling in the Latinx community.
And this feeling is closely linked to discrimination. More than six in 10 adults have moved to a new community at least once in their lives, while 37% have never left their hometowns. Regardless of place of residence, a recent poll found that one in threeLatinx workers face discrimination while looking for jobs, seeking equal pay, and applying for promotions.
A Sense Of Hope
As Puerto Rico continues to recover and millions of Latinx people across the country fight for their rights, there is a sense of optimism among some grassroots organizations, NBC News reports. Marcos Martinez, executive director of Casa Latina in Seattle, told NBC News that these feelings of unrest have mobilized communities both in the polls and out on the streets.
“It was a stressful year,” he said. “But we have seen an outpouring of support from people who want to help our Latino immigrant community. It has been a year of increased empathy from the non-immigrant community, wanting to know what they can do.”
As politicians like Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala increase Hispanic representation in government, becoming the first Latinx women to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, the 2018 midterm elections could boost this optimism even more.
“There is cause for optimism because we have great elected leaders, volunteers, donors, and everyday people who turnout and want to support immigrant workers,” Martinez told NBC News. “And those are all things to feel good about.”