The Alliance of Latin American Students at Haverford College has traditionally been a place for students to come together to explore complex issues, find support with others, and celebrate moments of success. Although the issues we discuss are commonly facilitated within the context of our own group setting, the Alliance of Latin American Students’ Board feels that it is necessary to speak out against the rhetoric being used in the presidential election and policy positions of some of the candidates. It is important to note that this letter is not entirely reflective of the diverse opinions of our group. Our group has a range of opinions and some may not agree with an official endorsement for the reasons we outline here. However, in this political climate the ALAS Board felt it necessary to make an official statement that we support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
We are not blind to Hillary Clinton’s challenges as a candidate for president. Though Hillary Clinton did not understand the use of the word undocumented years ago, though she referred to groups of people as “superpredators” in the past, though her foreign policy as Secretary of State heavily focused on neoliberal policies that exploited Latin American people for economic gains of the wealthy, and even though she contributed to the overthrow of a Honduran leader who was supported by the LGBTQ community, unionists, land reformers, and feminist leaders in the country; we have decided to look at this election pragmatically because we cannot live with the alternative choice for candidate for president.
We need a president who uses the word undocumented. We want to set the record straight. In the words of Maria Hinojosa, “‘illegals’ is not a noun.” It is an adjective. Stretching its use to refer to a segment of the U.S. population is repulsive because, first: there is no such thing as an illegal individual, no one’s humanity can ever be defined by a law. And second: because it is dehumanizing to the millions of undocumented people in the United States living their daily lives like all of us. The use of this creates a divide between us when in reality we walk and shop alongside each other. We need someone who understands that undocumented is the proper term. It’s not political correctness, it’s a basic understanding of our humanity.
We need a president who understands basic diplomacy and how international cooperation works. As the President of Mexico has repeatedly said, Mexico will never pay for a wall. Or, as the ex-President of Mexico, Vicente Fox once said: “No pienso pagar por ese puto muro.” Continuing to base the first point of a ten-point immigration plan under a false pretense is not only lying to the American people, but will completely ruin America’s ability to effectively cooperate with other countries abroad. We need a president with the experience to cooperate with our political allies logically and that will not put up walls between us.
We need a president who understands that we cannot establish a deportation regime based on fear that would serve to increase our national deficit by half a trillion dollars and leave our economy in ruin. When 75% of our national farmworkers are born in Mexico or Central America, we should stop and consider economic impact deportations would have on agricultural production. That is not to say we should not reform the farmworker’s conditions as they are outstandingly horrendous. It is no wonder why U.S. born farmworkers who are actively recruited before foreign labor is sought would not participate in this form of labor. We need someone who will approach the 16% of undocumented people working in these sectors with respect and offer a productive plan forward.
We need a president who understands that we cannot tear apart the families of our U.S. born children. Instead we need to bring our country’s undocumented population out of the shadows and bring comprehensive immigration reform that will give equal rights to the millions of undocumented families that live in fear of our system. A pathway to citizenship is the only way to keep our families safe and truly unafraid.
We need a president who will continue to advance a progressive agenda that will take care of our communities here in the United States. The alternative candidate would not only fail to institute any progressive policy, but would be a total disaster with his threats of mass deportation and the continuing polarization of our society. The language and rhetoric employed during this election, especially by a right-wing candidate and his supporters has had a direct impact on our own communities. People are truly afraid. He has normalized racism in ways that we haven’t seen for years; demonizing immigrants from all backgrounds causing cultural and social repercussions seen even here at Haverford.
We cannot afford have a leader without morals who brags about sexually harassing women in the workplace then turns around and labels an entire country of people “rapists.” We cannot have a leader who makes fun of alternatively abled people and disrespects this country’s veterans. We need a leader with morals.
We are confident that Hillary Clinton can help steer the conversation away from polarization and work on a plan that will bring progress. Hillary Clinton proposes evidence-based policy proposals, not trailing thoughts full of empty promises. Though she may not be our first-choice, this election has provided us with a clear choice. We need a president who has experience working diplomatic ties, an understanding of the legislative process, basic respect for other human beings.
We as a group do not forget the 2000 Presidential Election, where a liberal third party candidate took hundreds of thousands of votes from the Democratic Candidate for President, specifically over 90,000 votes in Florida where the Democratic candidate lost by only 567 votes. We cannot sit this one out and let this happen again. Yes, we acknowledge that there are third party candidates and write-in options that may be closer our ideological perspectives, but they will only serve to give votes to the wrong candidate.
It truly is under these extraordinary circumstances that we, as the Alliance of Latin American Students have chosen to speak out against the campaign rhetoric brought on by politicians who thrive on fear. We want to be clear. Many members in our group are uncomfortable and disillusioned by both of our presidential candidates. But it is with an eye to the future and a pragmatic approach to the welfare of the United States and the Latinx identified people who exist within it that we support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.
ALAS Board, Members, and Allies
Sergio Diaz Luna ‘17, Rafael Moreno ’17, Jesús Hernandez ‘17, Mónica Marie Zorrilla ‘17, Miguel Wise ‘18, Tania Ortega ‘19, Vanessa Morales ‘19, Rosa Urquiza ‘20, Joseph Spir ‘20, Victoria Merino ‘20, Gabe Delabra ‘17, Gilbert Orta Portillo ‘17, Hubert Skertchly ‘17, Lucia Herrmann ‘17, Abby Cox ‘17, Alliyah Allen ‘18, Alondra Gomez ‘18, George Avecillas ‘18, Kerry Rodriguez ‘18, Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe ‘18, Lauren De La Ossa ‘20, Rudolf Hernandez ‘20