Despite the immense amount of anti-immigrant rhetoric from the new president-elect, one good thing came out of Election Day this year: the largest ever Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Understandably, the election of Donald Trump has caused much of the Latino population to feel worried about the future. Throughout his campaign, Trump characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists, drug dealers, criminals, and all-around “bad hombres.” He made promises to deport all illegal immigrants — an estimated 11 million — and build a border wall to keep them out.
Back in August, Trump also said he wanted to deny citizenship to U.S.-born babies of illegal immigrants. If children of immigrants — even illegal ones — are born in America, they are considered to be American citizens under the 14th Amendment, which was adopted in 1868.
Trump has claimed he has nothing against immigrants and wants to deport only those who are here illegally. But even those who are lucky enough to obtain one of the 480,000 family-based immigrant visas that are available every year may very well face increasing backlash and violence as a result of the election.
But there is also hope and encouragement. Due to strong voter turnout within the Hispanic community, the first Latina senator, Nevada’s Catherine Cortez Masto, was elected. And the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will now grow from 26 members to 31.
More than a third of these members are from California. This is not surprising, as nearly 40% of California’s population is Latino. The caucus’s representatives are already asking for a meeting with Trump, due to his flawed policies.
Although Trump’s stance on the deportation of immigrants appeared to soften during his recent “60 Minutes” broadcast, members of both the caucus and the community are still very concerned. Many constituents are fearful, and representatives feel action must be taken.
But how big an impact these lawmakers will have remains to be seen. Because the Republican party now has control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, it’s unknown how much clout Democratic representatives will have.
For now, representatives are hopeful that Trump’s rigid policies will continue to ease — he’s already said he’s concerned only with those undocumented immigrants who have criminal backgrounds — but are staying alert and skeptical, and are ready to fight for the issues at hand.