I’m an LGBT, First-Generation Asian-American voting for Hillary Clinton. Here’s why.
My parents fled from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the late 1980s. They fled a beautiful home torn asunder by war, famine, and disease, with nearly 4 million of its roughly 7 million citizens lost within a span of two decades.
I was born when they had settled in California. Although Cambodia was far across the Pacific Ocean, my parents still carried with them all the traumas. This made life difficult for them, particularly my mom – who raised me and my four siblings alone until we were placed in foster care and later adopted by a family in Maine.
I can only imagine what would have happened had Trump been president when hundreds of thousands of refugees looked to America for refuge. But based on what he has said thus far, I have an educated guess.
Trump’s deportation-centric, anti-immigration policy would have made it extremely hard for my parents to find refuge here. According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are nearly 1.5 million undocumented Asian-American immigrants and that, since 2000, Asians outpace Mexicans in terms of undocumented immigration. When Trump talks about deporting 1.5 million undocumented immigrants… he is also talking about tearing hundreds of thousands of families apart.
Trump’s isolationist economic policies would have imposed undue hardship, making jobs more scarce by instigating a trade war and making American products harder to access and less attractive abroad. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian-American businesses reported just over $600 billion in sales/receipts in 2012. Trump’s economic policies would lay waste to many Asian-American businesses, many of which import and export goods overseas.
Trump’s tax policies also weigh heavily in favor of people like him – white and wealthy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, 16.1% of Asian-Americans live in poverty. Trump’s proposed tax cuts and regressive tax proposals disproportionately favor those at the top, while also leaving little funding for programs that help keep people, especially people of color, out of poverty.
Trump’s foreign policy would have likely further damaged America’s reputation abroad, and pushed many Asian countries toward China’s fold. This would have furthered anti-Asian and xenophobic sentiments domestically and lead to more damaging policies that would lead to more disastrous foreign, immigration, tax and economic policies.
If Trump was President in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I highly doubt that my parents would have made it here safely and timely. Even if they had, by some miracle, made it to America, Trump’s policies would have made it extremely difficult for them to make it in America.
This also gives me concern about my own existence. Would I have been born at all? Would I be American? Would I have graduated college with honors? Would I currently be pursuing a dual degree in law and policy?
Trump’s lies about immigrants, no matter their country of origin, is laid bare by the evidence that, if given the opportunity and the resources, immigrants and first-generation Americans would love nothing more than to give back to the country that gave them a second chance at a dream of brighter future.