Calling undocumented immigrants criminals is distasteful and misleading

In Opinion
(Anita Huor / Daily Titan)

Jeffrey Monroe was just doing his job driving Indianapolis Colts linebacker, Edwin Jackson, home safely, but both men died that morning at the hands of a drunk driver. In any other circumstance this event would be followed by mourning families, empathetic media and saddened fans, except this drunk driver was an undocumented immigrant.

Stereotyping all immigrants in a negative light is just as irresponsible as generalizing all citizens of the United States in a positive one.

Rather than mourning the death of the striving player and working man, the Twitter feed focused on the person who killed them — an undocumented immigrant. Sharing distasteful and ignorant thoughts for the entire internet to see.

To share his distasteful and ignorant thoughts for the entire internet to see, President Donald Trump quickly turned to Twitter to respond to the tragedy, but not to focus on the deaths.

Immediately the loss of two lives became political and controversial, leaving room for generalizations. One immigrant’s careless mistake became every immigrant’s new obstacle.

Disgraceful. Preventable. Illegal immigration. The three issues Trump zeroed in on. He used the tragedy as ammo to attack immigrants in one large blanket statement.

It’s true, there are undocumented individuals that commit crimes, but amount has been largely overstated.

Data shows that from 2001 to 2015, 60 percent of deported immigrants were not convicted of a crime, according to 2017 research from the Pew Research Center.

Those who truly seek a better life in the land of opportunity are often ignored.

Most undocumented individuals are students, entrepreneurs, hard workers and goal chasers. Many second-generation students can pursue their dreams because of the bravery of their parents. Thirty-six percent of college graduates are raised by immigrant parents, according to a 2013 research study from the Pew Research Center.

A tremendous number of immigrants are taking strides to learn and make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. But even with hundreds trying to better themselves, it takes only one isolated incident to flip the script.

Comparisons being made between this one reckless driver and hardworking Dreamers are reckless around the country. On Twitter, people began to follow Trump’s lead.

Unfortunately, it’s these kinds of generalizations that leave prosperous immigrant students living in fear. Since Trump’s campaign, supporters have taken terrible incidents and used them to generalize foreigners as ill intentioned.

“The Mexican legal system is corrupt, as is much of Mexico. Pay me the money that is owed me now – and stop sending criminals over our border,” Trump tweeted in 2015.

America’s leader has created a toxic identity for people who come from places outside of the United States; criminalizing all of Mexico’s natives is belittling and careless.

Powerful leaders should invite optimistic attitudes, not negative ones. The alternative idea would be to punish criminals on an individual basis, and use this incident as a reminder of the dangers of drunk driving, the actual issue at hand.

In situations as horrible as drinking and driving accidents, now is the time to show empathy, not anger and frustration. By using this situation as a way to criminalize all immigrants, Americans are foregoing important discussions for asinine debates.

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