Immigration advocates in Mississippi say they don’t see much of a change in Donald Trump’s rhetoric or policies after the Republican presidential candidate gave a much-watched speech on the issue this week. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports.
Trump's speech was closely watched in part because it was thought the candidate might soften his plans on immigration, which include building a wall on the Mexican border, increasing deportations and removing any paths to citizenship. That didn't happen:
"Our message to the world will be this: you cannot obtain legal status or become a citizen of the United States by illegally entering our country," Trump said at the rally.
Melinda Medina, a community organizer in Biloxi for the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says neither Trump's speech nor his visit with Mexico's president earlier the same day change her mind about the candidate and his policies.
"I believe that mass deportation threatens the American value of families," she says. "A lot of the families in America are mixed families, with some of them having parents that are undocumented but having children who are U.S. citizens. So I believe that mass deportation is not an option for us right now."
But, at the same time, she also worries it could very well become a reality.
"I was asked the other day, do you really think mass deportation could happen? Well, it's happening right now," she says. "Under the Obama administration, they've deported about 2 million people. So I think, yes, if Trump was elected to the presidency, it could actually happen because it's happening now."
Medina, who was born in Texas and is a U.S. citizen who considers herself Mexican-American. She says she is also worried about the divisive rhetoric she's heard from the Republican candidate and the fear she's seen it create.
"So that when people look at me, or look at my family members, they're wondering, is she a criminal? Is she undocumented?" she says. "And I think we need to stop that. We need to quit looking at people and looking at their color or their race, and start treating them as what they are: the human race. We're people, and we all deserve to be treated equally."
A Pew Research report this week says U.S. deportations fell in 20-14 but are still near record highs.