On Jan. 30, Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address. He started the address with these words: “Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission — to make America great again for all Americans.”
Fact-checks have pointed out false and exaggerated statements throughout the speech, but this one seems to me to be the biggest of them all. Last year was not great— not for me, not for communities of color and certainly not for immigrants and refugees who reside in our country. In fact, it’s been awful.
When I look back at this last year, I look back at the ways my community has suffered. At the beginning of the year, Trump signed an executive order to advance the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which directly affected Native communities. The Dakota Access pipeline travels underneath the Missouri River, threatening to contaminate the primary drinking water source for the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota people who live on Standing Rock. The Keystone Pipeline has already leaked 210,000 gallons of oil, contaminating land in South Dakota.
Not only has he impacted my community negatively, but also the communities of my friends. He made my Muslim friends feel unsafe by signing an executive order that prohibited citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days and barred Syrian refugees indefinitely. This reminded them that the president openly discriminates against their faith, and has even instituted policies that embody this prejudice. It also separated Muslims in the United States from their family members abroad.
For my friends who are protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — those who have been in America since the beginning of their lives — the looming threat that their lives may be taken away from them is a fear they have faced everyday since Trump ended the program. In fact, he insulted DACA recipients when introducing Celestino Martinez, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, right after saying, “Americans are dreamers, too.”
That wasn’t the only time he pushed his xenophobic ideologies. He used his guests, Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, whose daughter, Kayla Cuevas, was killed by MS-13 gang members on Long Island in 2016 as an example of bad immigration policy that allowed the members of MS-13 to kill their daughter because they were able to come into the country through what he called, “deadly loopholes.”
It’s clear that the greatness envisioned for America does not include certain groups of people, such as indigenous communities, communities of color, the Muslim community and those immigrants who have called America their home for years. And so I ask: For whom is the Trump administration making America great?