Opinion

President Trump: Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You

Growing up on the central coast of California, I come from what is called the “Salad Bowl of the World.”

Lettuce, artichokes, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower and strawberries are just a few of the types of produce grown in California. My daily commute to high school involved driving past fields where thousands of hardworking field workers were bent over picking the food we later put on our plates.

President Donald J. Trump said throughout his campaign that immigrants are stealing jobs from U.S. citizens, but that’s not the case.

Roughly 70 percent of the 1.2 million people employed by the agriculture industry are undocumented; no U.S. industry is more dependent on undocumented immigrants, according to the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS).

The workforce in the agricultural industry is predominantly composed of immigrants, according to the NAWS, with the majority of immigrant farmworkers (95 percent) from Mexico.

These migrant workers are often paid less than minimum wage. Most live in migrant camps where families of eight lived in a one-room shack and often started work before sunrise, according to data from Farmworkers Justice.

It’s laborious, painful work, and most workers cannot afford to even buy the produce they pick.

Trump claims immigrants are taking the jobs of U.S. citizens, but without the hands of immigrant workers, these U.S. citizens that are having their jobs “stolen” would have no food.

I don’t see middle class white men working in those fields.

Instead, I see our food coming from the hands of those who are unlikely to reap its benefits.

President Trump, have you spent 12 hours hunched over in a field that reeks of fertilizer cutting broccoli with a machete? No, because you were fortunate enough to be granted a “small loan” of $1 million and born into the top 1 percent of the United
States’ wealth.

Our country was built on immigrants. Many of our relatives risked the perilous journey to the United States to start a better life. It’s the history of our county and our people. We benefit from immigrants who pay taxes, contribute to the labor force and diversify our country. President Trump, you too descended from immigrants.

The jewel of our country is our diversity, and for decades, our country has taken steps to support and develop this diversity.

Two years ago, a Supreme Court ruling under former President Barack Obama made it unconstitutional to deny a gay marriage license. This past election season, a woman won the popular vote to be the next president.

Although some progress has been arguably slow, our country has taken steps to celebrate diversity. President Trump’s plans and executive orders are halting this progress.

A wall along our southern border is regression, not progression.

A simple review of the history of the Berlin Wall proves the divisive repercussions of building such a prominent barrier.

The wall was intended to slow the movement of migrants from East Berlin, but it failed to acknowledge the reasons people wanted to leave the east in the first place.

Building a wall would only offer temporary relief from tensions that would only become exacerbated by further separation.

A wall speaks a thousand words, many of which Trump has already said.

Trump said Mexicans are “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

The president cannot make vague stereotypes and sweeping generalizations of a group of people, especially when many of those people he is stereotyping and generalizing as rapists supply the food on his plate.