Words Matter: Immigrants Are Not “Animals”

Yesterday, during an immigration roundtable at the White House, President Trump referred to certain undocumented immigrants as “animals.” Specifically, he said, “These aren’t people. These are animals.” He said this in reference to specific undocumented immigrants the government is working to expel from the country whom he feels are particularly bad people. He said, “…you wouldn’t believe how bad these people are.”

My problem with Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is that it is another in a growing list of ways he has disparaged immigrants and people of color since announcing his bid for the presidency. By calling a select group of undocumented immigrants “animals” he is acting to further create an us vs. them mentality in the American people toward undocumented immigrants and people of Latin descent. He is fomenting rage toward a class of people who are already having a hard time being seen as whole, worthy, and just people by some Americans.

I suppose one could argue that the President was merely playing to his base, as many who voted to put him in office probably already hold these views toward many undocumented immigrants. But the fact remains, our President’s rhetoric toward immigrants and people of color is bad and is not improving. For me, this comes down to respect. Our President seems to lack a proper amount of respect for many people in the world – be they American citizens of citizens of South American countries, South African countries, or others.

Once again, I am calling upon President Trump to cultivate within himself respect for all people – regardless of race, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. It is never too late to change. Mr. Trump needs to learn to empathize with people who are different than himself, just as we all need to develop our ability to do this.

Perhaps President Trump is providing us all with a learning opportunity. We all can learn to grow our tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness towards all people, especially those who are different from us. In the end we are all human beings. We all have essentially the same needs and desires.

Immigrants to the United States, regardless of legal status, come here seeking what all human beings desire – safety, security, the basic necessities of life, and the opportunity to become their best expressions of themselves. We are all human. We all desire to be loved, accepted, and respected.

Let’s all work to make this a nation and a world we can be proud of. Let’s all strive to treat one another with tolerance, respect, empathy, compassion, and kindness.

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