Not all immigrants are against Trump

Justin Shiu,

Despite President Trump’s mocking attitude towards immigrants and anti-immigrant policies, immigrants in California and other “blue” states continue to support Trump. This confuses me.

I am the son of conservative Chinese-American immigrants, so I questioned a few of my relatives and friends to get some answers about why they support Trump. Their stances are based on notions about the alleged abuse of welfare and government benefits, opposition to illegal immigrants and the boldness of Trump’s statements.

“Trump has the guts to take necessary actions. He’s not scared to do what is needed,” my aunt Amanda Tran told me. “Everyone says he’s a racist but honestly, maybe he is. But what he says is true. He tells it like it is.” Her sister Lynda added, “Why should we be scared of Trump? We came here legally.”

Tran remembers her days spent in a Malaysian camp as she and her family waited for their chance to be screened before being let into the U.S. “We waited in the camp and got in after being screened, so why can’t other immigrants and refugees do the same?” She believes that the U.S. should allow refugees in, but only after screening them. She is proud to have come to this country legally.         

Each one of them came from Vietnam as young children in the mid-1970s, fleeing the communist regime. They have little recollection of life there, but the examples shown by family elders reinforced values like individual responsibility and working hard for a new beginning in America.

“Why should we pay for those who take advantage of the system,” Lynda said, referring to people who receive food stamps and unemployment benefits. “We work hard and pay taxes so that the people who sit out there doing nothing can get money from the government.”

These sentiments are very popular in the conservative Chinese-American immigrant community, many of whom believe that success is based on how clever and hardworking an individual is. Those who abuse the system are considered “parasites.”
“Hard working people make money so they can pay for their own medical insurance but some illegal immigrant can go to the ER and get free healthcare when they get hurt,” Amanda said as an example.

Though they are led by the belief that illegal immigrants drain the system, their contempt for other immigrants and the less fortunate matches their fervor for Trump. Many of the members of this community say they see in him a successful businessman who can provide better opportunities; a bold entrepreneur who does not mince words. They say they think he is smart and successful.

I can understand the reasoning behind my family’s support of Trump. I understand that for my family, it was a struggle to get into this country by legal means. For them, it is like watching the kid who cheated on the test get a special reward, while the ones that studied and worked hard get cheated by the winner.

I see both sides of the argument, but I don’t necessarily agree with the outcome.