My name is Tasha Balkaran, and I am the Editor-in-Chief of The Bridge. I joined The Bridge in January of 2017 with no experience or knowledge of how to write articles. Thanks to The Bridge’s staff, I was able to absorb the principles needed to be a reporter, and have taken on the responsibility to […]
The United States of America is known as a melting pot. Every year immigrants come to this country searching for the American dream, looking for freedom and opportunities of growth. This country was built on immigrants.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” said Donald Trump on June 16th, 2016. Latinos, like any other ethnic group, came to this country looking for a better opportunity than they could have had in their countries of origin. Some of them do not know anyone in this country. Many Latinos work three jobs in order to support their families and provide a better future for their children. Latino students are breaking barriers of stereotyping in order for the world to see that not all Latinos are drug dealers, criminals, or rapists.
One brave young adult, Ricardo Aca, with the help of a friend, Chase Whiteside, decided to make a YouTube video titled, “Meet the Undocumented Immigrant Who Works in a Trump Hotel.” This video was created to show that not all Mexicans are lazy or criminals.
Mr. Aca works three jobs in order to support himself. The video reached 300,000 views in 24 hours. Since the video had such an affirmative response, Mr. Aca interviewed with New York Times, Los Angeles Times, NBC and etc. Aca was a former student of LaGuardia Community College, received an Associate Degree in Photography and works as a runner at Koi in SoHo.
On April 18, Mr. Aca worked on a project to support Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) in the case U.S. vs. Texas. DAPA is a “prosecutorial discretion program administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on an individual applicant basis that provides temporary relief from deportation and parents will have the opportunity to apply for a work permit.” This program would benefit about five million undocumented parents.
Aca is an example of a hardworking immigrant who has worked towards his dreams. Aca is not a criminal or drug dealer, but a leader. He has inspired undocumented immigrants not to be afraid of their legal status but to strive for their dreams and always remember they can be anything they desire to be.
Trump’s aformentioned words had a strong impact on the Latino community. Mr. Aca expressed his feelings on how these words made him feel. “Mr. Trump is widely known for Miss Universe and nobody expected him to say such hard comments towards the Latino community. Even though Trump was directing his words towards Mexicans, he was saying about Latinos in general.”
When asked Mr. Aca if he believed his video had an impact on people, “It takes an entire movement to change what people believe about undocumented immigrants in the United States.” He said that he did not have any influence when he was growing up in Ridgewood, Queens.
Cesar Vargas, an undocumented immigrant from Puebla, Mexico, who is now a lawyer, hopes to inspire other undocumented immigrants to follow their dreams and become leaders of their communities regardless of their legal statuses.
The primaries were recently held in New York and Donald Trump won. Mr. Aca’s thoughts are that it was obvious that Trump was going to win because the news has given him a lot of free publicity. The community made this happen, and this is not just in New York but it is everywhere. Mr. Aca commented on the matter, “what people watch is what people buy.” He also said, “It is terrible but you kind of want Donald Trump to be against Clinton, who is most likely to win the primaries. There are more chances for Clinton to defeat Trump then there is for Cruz.”
When asked what was the scariest part of what Trump said, he answered, “We think that we lived in a country that is very progressive. The scariest part is that people have started to see all these people who are resentful about having the first black president. Americans thought they lost their power when Obama became president. They want that back. They want to be the number one ethnicity. He added, “Trump is promising to make America great again, which means let’s make America white again. However, this is impossible because we are country based on immigrants. In the news the term immigrants is used to refer to Latinos, but is this word being overused? This is a country founded by immigrants. If we go back the real Americans are Native Americans. Even Trump is an immigrant just because he was born here does not make him less of an immigrant.”
Mr. Aca has worked on many projects, and recently worked for LaGuardia Community College in February. The event was an appreciation for donors, people that give money to the college. Mr. Aca decided to incorporate pictures with people holding signs, reading that they are not drug dealers, not rapists or criminals. Mr. Aca said the reason behind why he decided to incorporate these pictures was a response to Trump’s comments: “People will know that these are the Mexican families and wanted them to hold signs that read that they are not drug dealers, nor criminals nor rapists.”
Do college students have the ability to change the view of people? Do they realize the big impact they have in this country, and not just this country but the future of the world?
Mr. Aca said, “The problem is that it is really hard to change someone’s mind. Students from Harvard are supporting immigrants which is showing that immigrants are not bad people and we are not really what Donald Trump was portraying us to be. They are aware of the power they have in their hands and want to spread the word that we are not what Trump labeled us to be. Harvard students wanted Ricardo Aca to send the message on how immigration affects them and how Donald Trump’s comments made them feel.”
Using the power of photography, Aca hopes to portray the reality of the lives of undocumented immigrants in the United States, not only families going to soccer or Harvard students. He wants to show every side of immigrants; not just Latinos, but also Asians, and African Americans. His purpose is to dispel stereotypes of undocumented immigrants in the United States. It does not matter what someone studies or does for living, everyone deserves the same amount of respect.