A Year of Trump

The American Dream, Short Circuited

“Why do we want all these people from shithole countries coming here?”

Donald Trump reportedly said these words in a room full of lawmakers during a discussion about immigration on Jan. 11, 2018. It would be nine more days until his official one year in office.

Looking back to the days of his campaign, Trump focused heavily on his strict approach to immigration. At his rallies, he got the crowd fired up just by saying the word “Mexico.” His chants often included, “build a wall!” and he insisted that Mexico would pay for it. That did not happen. This campaign and behavior went on for months, causing uproar across the country until the climax of it all: his election and eventual inauguration into office.

However, at MVHS, his stance on immigration was not widely discussed because it did not feel applicable to us. Although many of our parents are immigrants, it did not feel like Trump was directly targeting us. After all, our school demographics for the 2017-2018 school year show that 83% of us are of Asian heritage, 13% are white, and only 4% are other, including African American, Latino and Native American. The topic of conversation on campus usually revolved around Trump’s personality and his speeches. He prided himself on not being a politician, most certainly not a traditional one. Just as important milestones mark his presidency, controversies during his campaign were not rare.

Then, in September 2017, the Trump administration announced its goal to cut the DACA program.

It began to feel real. Dismantling the DACA Program would affect students who qualify for conditional residency so they can receive an education in the United States. These students are allowed to stay so they can pursue an education and build a better life for themselves — after all, isn’t that what we all want?

This ideology is highly prevalent in discussions regarding the American Dream. For juniors at MVHS, American Literature is a required class. The course centers around the theme of the American Dream and what it means to be an American. Time after time, it’s been proven to us through historical and literary analysis that the American Dream is only made true by the notion that America is the land of freedom and opportunity for everyone, regardless of your ethnicity. Likewise, being an American means that you humbly work and contribute to society.

But Trump’s administration and the remarks of the President himself lead us to think that the America they envision is not inclusive at all.

When Trump was elected, we hadn’t realized how many of our classmates and friends would be affected by his policies. As mentioned previously, many of our parents were immigrants to this country, but there is also a portion of us here who are immigrants ourselves. We sit next to these students in math and eat lunch with them in the quad, so most of the time, we don't worry about whether they’ll show up the next day because, well, we never had a reason to believe that they wouldn’t be here day after day. In reality, it’s not always this easy.

This year alone, at least three MVHS students have had to, or are in the process of, leaving the U.S. because of expired and denied visas. Suddenly, these people whom we thought would always be here were forced to pick up their things and move, sometimes halfway across the world — and we don’t seem to be stopping them. We host farewell parties and tell them we’ll miss them (which is all good and well) but we don’t seem to be doing anything to actively help them stay in the U.S. or show that we don’t support the policies that are pushing them to leave.

And, yes, our immigration system wasn’t perfect before Trump stepped in — for years the process of getting a green card or gaining citizenship has been a very, very long process for most and the deportation of these students can’t be attributed to solely Trump. But it is clear that his administration has cracked down on all of us. In a personal column, Senior Songjun Na recounts his experience of briefly being detained at the San Francisco airport upon return from South Korea.

Trump’s stricter immigration policies and harsher requirements have had an effect on immigrant students’ chances at citizenship or even just staying here long enough to finish their education.

This heavily interferes with their educational journey. Some students move back to countries where the education systems are decent but drastically different. If the U.S. is the only place they’ve known since they were very young, adjusting to the culture and language of another country can be disheartening.

These students came to the U.S. with no other motive but to pursue an education and lead a good life, but instead of being welcomed for their desire to learn and contribute to society, they’re being pushed out and are left with a life more broken than before.

These students are our classmates, our friends, our community. When the few MVHS students were deported, we offered our sympathy and just watched them leave. Too many times it feels like students talk about problems in politics but don’t actively do anything about it. Sure, we may not be able to persuade the government to approve one’s visa application or extend their stay, but we can show that we’re not letting them go without a fight. Participate in protests, engage in demonstrations, lobby for legislation, and if you can, vote.

If you’re sad to see your fellow classmates go, do something to try and prevent more students from having to leave. Don’t let yourself get used to seeing people be deported. Don’t let them quietly slip away, leaving an empty chair in the classroom. Make it a big deal.

How the final GOP tax bill will affect education

On December 15, Congress passed a huge tax plan, a move that will make a substantial impact on American taxpayers. But for students heading into college and the world of taxes, it can be difficult to understand what the new bill means for student loans, tuition and the education budget, especially given the fact that there was both a Senate and House version of the bill. Factoring in all the repeals, provisions or propositions made by the House and Senate during the vetting process, here is how the final plan will affect education.