Mass

For Trinny and others gathered around the table, one of the most upsetting parts of the law is how it is set to be enforced. The law arguably opens the door to racial profiling, especially when it asks police officers to check the legality of a driver during a traffic stop. What Trinny and the others question, is just how police officers will go about deciding whether or not to ask for legal papers.

I do believe this law is racist,” Trinny said. “If we are going to be completely open and honest about it, we must admit that it is racist.”

The problem, Trinny said, is that the Hispanic community is often misunderstood and therefore stereotyped against.

“I invite American citizens to get to know just one Hispanic family. We are constantly being told that we are a great mass, here to invade the country, but if they took the time to get to know a single family, even though every family is different, their opinion would change. What’s upsetting is that the entire Hispanic population is in the spotlight, characterized by the faults of a select few from our population. In every race, there are people who abuse the government. In every race; there are criminals, in every race. It is not fair to characterize all of us together and say that we all came here like a plague.”

Manuel, who has lived here for four years, said he experienced discrimination at the hands of a man he considered all loving and accepting.

“Right after the tornado, a pastor came up to me and began to speak to me kindly about the importance of church, trying to comfort me in a way,” Manuel said. “Towards the end of the conversation, he asked me how I was living here. As a Catholic man myself, I knew I had to tell the truth and said ‘Sir, I am in fact, undocumented.’ Boy do I regret admitting that. He told me I was a parasite—that we all were. I couldn’t believe a man of God, a man of the church, was telling me those things. It deeply upset me.”

The fear does not simply stem from verbal discrimination. The proof of the danger these people live with every day is shown on television newscasts each evening and printed on the front page of national newspapers—daily arrests, deportations and protests fuel the immigration debate.

“With all the roundups and arrests, it’s impossible to stay calm,” said Ceytano, also an immigrant from Mexico. “It all terrifies us. All the reporting on the news makes it difficult for us to live in peace.”