Donald Trump’s Comments on Immigrants Hit a Nerve With His Own Laborers
Despite his highly publicized antipathy for illegal Mexican immigrants, real estate developer and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may be guilty of hiring the very same people he accused of being “rapists” and “drug dealers” less than a month ago.
Gawker reports that Trump’s latest development project, the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., relies heavily on labor from Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants, many of whom by their own admission are illegal. The construction and landscaping industries in particular are known for hiring illegal immigrants. Many of the estimated 878,969 landscaping workers in the country are thought to be illegal.
When the Washington Post interviewed workers on the $200 construction project earlier this month, many admitted that they illegally came to the United States. The laborers, who hail from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and other countries, are outraged by Trump’s recent comments regarding illegal immigrants from Mexico.
On June 16th, during his presidential announcement speech, he said that Mexico (by which he presumably meant the Mexican government) deliberately sends people that “have a lot of problems.”
“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists,” Trump said, although he did admit that “some…are good people.”
His comments sparked a fierce backlash from Mexican and Hispanic organizations. Univision, NBC, and Macy, among other companies, have terminated their relationships with the billionaire, and his comments even brought a reprimand from Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs José Antonio Meade Kuribreña.
However, the people most offended by The Donald’s comments are some of the laborers that are building his new hotel. Ivan Arellano, a stonemason from Mexico, fears for many of his coworkers. Although he came to the U.S. legally, he says that quite a few of his coworkers did not.
“The majority of us are Hispanics, many who came illegally,” Arellano said. “And we’re all here working very hard to build a better life for our families.”
Another laborer, Daniel Gonzalez, a sheet metal worker from El Salvador, came to the U.S. illegally in the 1980s but was eventually granted asylum, considering he was escaping his country’s vicious civil war at the time.
“Most of the concern is that this escalates into a bigger problem,” Gonzalez said. “He might come one day and pretty much tell us to get the heck out of here.”
Other workers are more indignant than frightened by Trump’s comments. Ramon Alvarez, a window worker from El Salvador, points out the hard work and unsafe conditions facing these workers.
“Do you think that when we’re hanging out there from the eighth floor that we’re raping or selling drugs?” Alvarez hypothetically posed to Trump. “We’re risking our lives and our health. A lot of the chemicals we deal with are toxic.”