Every so often I hear a question that just infuriates me until I remember that not everyone works with immigrants and refugees on a daily basis. It's one of the many things that brings out the mama lion in me.
The question is this:
“If immigrants and refugees are here legally, they have nothing to worry about, right?”
There are two major elements to keep in mind in order to answer this question:
Hate crimes. Of the 7,121 victims of hate crimes reported to the FBI in 2015 (statistics for 2016 have not yet been released as of this writing), 59.2% of them were targeted because of race, ethnicity or ancestry. A further 19.7% were targeted because of their religion. (“2015 Hate Crime Statistics Released”) It is unknown how many crimes have gone unreported.
In addition, there are any number of smaller indignities and cases of harassment that occur every day that make immigrants and refugees feel that they are not welcome in their new home. Anyone who works with them would be able to provide a multitude of examples that have happened to people they know personally.
The past meeting the present. Many refugees and immigrants grown up fearing their own oppressive government and its army and/or police force. Such deep-rooted fears cannot be easily forgotten. Further, when they see someone seeking a high position in the government telling them they are unwelcome, it is disconcerting, to say the least. When they later see that same person changing established law with a sweep of the pen, it is not surprising if they are concerned about what might happen next.
"2015 Hate Crime Statistics Released." FBI. FBI, 14 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.