As the Republican candidate race gears up, Donald Trump sits at the forefront of the GOP options. Trump’s plan for immigration reform is high on the list of controversial issues that sets him apart from other candidates. The issue garners strong opinions from both ends of the political spectrum, as well as from Pope Francis. The pope’s stance in support of immigrants has him pitted against Trump’s ideology.
This issue of immigration goes beyond the presidential race, as it hits close to home for some students at the University of Colorado. Nataly Banda, an ethnic studies major, has been paying special attention to the issue. Banda’s mother was born in California and raised in Mexico until she was 13, and her father came to the United States to escape poverty at 18. Banda recognizes the harsh reality for people in similar situations.
“We would have been very poor [in Mexico] and most likely would have had to help out by working [a] side job to make ends meet,” Banda said. “I would have never been given the opportunity to go to college, and neither would my siblings.”
As Trump has been doing well in the polls, his immigration reform plan has been the spotlight of discussions. Trump’s plan involves building a wall across the border between the U.S. and Mexico on Mexico’s dime. Other goals include the mandatory return of illegal aliens, tripling the number of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and ending birthright citizenship.
The Republican party worries this will hurt the chances of widening the party’s base in terms of gaining more Hispanic voters, but the mogul-turned-politician is not backing down.
In his recent visit to the U.S., Pope Francis visited Independence Hall in Philadelphia to speak to an estimated 24,000 people. The ideas he presented regarding immigration stood in stark contrast to those of Trump.
“We remember the great struggles which led to the abolition of slavery,” said Pope Francis in an article by the Guardian. “ [This includes] the extension of voting rights, the growth of the labor movement, and the gradual effort to eliminate every kind of racism and prejudice directed at successive waves of new Americans.”
The pope wants to see the same dedication to positive change for immigration. He believes people from different backgrounds will help enrich America, and that they possess resources that they should share.
A day before Pope Francis spoke in Philadelphia, Trump expressed opposing sentiments at the Oklahoma State Fair.
“I love Mexico…but we gotta build a wall on the border,” said Trump according to News9 in Oklahoma.
Trump boasted about being politically incorrect, all the while insulting his opponents with words like “dumb,” “stupid,” “idiots” and “morons.” These over-the-top antics and sensationalism have won him the title of a reality TV politician.
While some politicians are criticizing the pope for drifting into political territory, others see it as a breath of fresh air and welcome it with open arms. The pope is regarded as a figure of respect and wisdom, attracting the attention of people from all different backgrounds and religions.
Banda hopes that the pope’s message will inspire others to expand their minds and bring a sense of togetherness.
“[Pope Francis] is trying to humanize the people who immigrate here and [is] legitimizing their stories as a world leader,” Banda said. “I hope that his influence can help change the hearts of all anti-immigrant politicians and leaders.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Paola Fernandez at Paola.FernandezGrados@colorado.edu