By Karla Perez
February 25, 2016
The University of Houston (my alma mater) will be hosting the GOP Debate tonight. The crowded GOP presidential race has now been whittled down to 5 candidates — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, and John Kasich.
Over the past week, I have watched our campus prepare for this event: giving out debate t-shirts, setting up spaces for media, and getting students excited about their university hosting a presidential debate. And I get it, I really do. I know how much our school has worked to become a nationally competitive university and how much dedication our administration, faculty, staff and students has put in over the years to keep the University of Houston excelling at a Tier 1 level. I am a proud University of Houston alumni (I mean, I worked really hard to stay here for law school!) and I have also worked hard to make our university more inclusive of its undocumented students.
But I will not and cannot ignore the dangerous environment these GOP candidates have created for immigrants, Muslims, women, disabled Americans, and people of color. I cannot ignore the fact that tonight, at my home away from home, candidates will probably speak about mass deportation of undocumented immigrants and eliminating DACA. These candidates are talking about me, my immigrant family and my community.
When Marco Rubio promises to end DACA, he is saying he wants to deport me and 700,000 immigrant youth who are protected from deportation by DACA. Our immigrant community knows Rubio cannot be trusted to have our best interests at heart and this feeling extends to the rest of the GOP candidates. Houston is home to 1.4 million foreign-born Houstonians and we are well-aware of the Republican party’s embrace of anti-immigrant laws and policies during this 2016 election cycle.
It is unsettling, to say the least, that my peers could even be hyped up about hearing these candidates speak. I’ve even gotten called out for “ruining UH’s spotlight” by protesting the debate. Didn’t these students hear Donald Trump call Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals? Or realize that Ted Cruz proposed legislation to block Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.? Let’s not forget that even the most “moderate” GOP candidate at this point, John Kasich, joined the lawsuit as governor of Ohio that has stalled the 2014 executive actions on immigration, which would protect the parents of millions of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents from deportation.
I hope that many of my fellow students and Houstonians will join us tonight in standing against the hatred GOP candidates have incited for months. Already, my friends have been hard at work to show the country that Houston does not welcome these anti-immigrant candidates.
We cannot ignore that hateful speech leads to hateful action. As one of my personal heroes, Audre Lorde once said: Your silence will not protect you.
We must not remain silent when the humanity of our immigrant community is under attack.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com