The ongoing crises of our country seem to hinge on the outcomes of the 2020 presidential election, putting vulnerable communities more at risk than ever before. The impact of this year’s elections extends out to the immigrant community within Los Angeles, who are heavily affected by the policies of each candidate.
Los Angeles’s population is 48.6% Hispanic or Latino, 8.9% African-American, 11.6% Asian, and a smattering of various other communities and groups, according to the 2010 Census data. These communities have a high proportion of undocumented citizens, as many come from lower-income areas or are of communities of color. According to Health Affairs, immigrants have been determined to be a “vulnerable population,” or “a group at increased risk for poor physical, psychological, and social health outcomes and inadequate health care.” Their needs are difficult to address because of the sheer diversity of the community and the recent federal and state policies that have restricted most immigrants’ access to health care.
With the ongoing pandemic, the immigrant community faces even greater impacts due to poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and fear of legal repercussions. Yet, their needs are not being addressed properly due to challenges assessing the pandemic’s impact on the immigrant communities, according to OECD. Because immigrants, particularly those who are undocumented, are not included in our national healthcare system, the impact and mortality rates are difficult to register, especially due to our country’s persistent negligence of such communities.
Immigrants are the very foundation of our country, especially in a city as diverse as Los Angeles. According to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti from New American Economy, “Immigration is at the heart of L.A.’s story […] People from all over the world are a driving force in an economic resurgence that has seen us create 146,000 new jobs and register 170,000 businesses over the last three years. L.A. became one of the world’s great cities by embracing immigration and diversity.” And even besides economically, their work ethic, their drive to seek better opportunities, and the very fact that they come from all over the world are what make up the American identity.
Yet, President Trump’s response to immigrants goes against the core values of our country, which claim to value opportunity and hard work. Throughout his campaign, President Trump has been blatantly anti-immigrant, to the point that it has now become his trademark. With his “building a wall” initiative, his handling of the U.S.’s involvement in the Middle East and a plethora of other foreign policies, his actions as president are the manifestation of the xenophobia that has been brewing within our country for years. His current plans in terms of immigration are to complete the building of the wall at the border as well as set further restrictions on immigration, access to resources for such communities, and citizenship obtainment. Most notably, he’s promised to remove “non-citizen gang members” from the country by limiting the distribution of visas, which he argues will boost employment rates, according to NPR. If he is re-elected, the difficulties the immigrant community faces will inevitably continue, if not grow exponentially.
Biden’s campaign, on the other hand, focused on undoing Trump’s imposed restrictions on immigration during his presidency, stopping the construction of his border wall, providing better direction of obtaining citizenship for undocumented residents, and expanding resources for current immigrants. He has promised to push for further oversight of Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Customs and Border Protection in order to ensure more professional and humane treatment. He’s also vowed to offer a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented residents in the country by assending legislation to Congress on his first day. Unlike Trump, his plan includes making work visas more accessible, as well as establishing task forces with information for more accessible healthcare, education systems, and employment opportunities for immigrants. His policies provide a more hopeful future for those who are disproportionately affected by our countries’ crises and face neglect.
The results of the election will strongly impact the immigrant community, and their stability and future depends heavily on the outcome. As of now, the most important thing we can do is continue to vote for our government and representatives and encourage others to do so in order to see any change.