Day 2 – Stranger Love

At the very beginning of his run for president, Donald Trump portrayed immigrants–especially those from Mexico–as hardened criminals and rapists.  On Tuesday evening, before a joint session of Congress, President Trump continued to connect the word
“immigrant” with criminal activities.  As proof of how dangerous immigrants are, Congress was introduced to several victims of immigrant crime: a man whose son was killed by an “illegal immigrant” and the wife of a police officer who was killed by “two illegal immigrants.”  Because “our citizens” are at such high risk, Trump announced the creation of a new office within the Department of Homeland Security–Victims Of Immigrant Crime Engagement (VOICE)–that would address the supposed epidemic of immigrant criminality.

Yet, a 2014 study published in the journal Justice Quarterly concluded that immigrants “exhibit remarkably low levels of involvement in crime across their life course” and are less likely to commit crimes than native-born U.S. Citizens. (source: AP)

So why is Trump insistent upon telling the “immigrant as criminal” storyline?  Is he articulating a narrative about immigrants that he will use to justify state-sanctioned actions against them?  Likely.  By constantly connecting the words “immigrant” and “criminal,” Trump plants the seeds of suspicion and fear into the minds and hearts of the public–seeds that will bear the fruit of hatred and discrimination and that will lead to public support for deportation, incarceration or worse. It’s happened before.

Question for reflection:

When you hear the word “immigrant” what are your first thoughts?  Who do you picture? What are they like?

Do you have a counter-narrative to the “immigrant as criminal” storyline?  What is it?

Link to the related article by the Associated Press.



  1. When I think of immigrants, I think of ethnic food. I (probably wrongly) assume that all immigrants know how to cook amazing food that I would love to eat. Growing up without much knowledge about my own family heritage, I was always a bit jealous of anyone who had what I considered a more interesting background. Even my husband’s family can trace their ancestors through Ellis Island from Germany. They have great stories and family recipes they’ve passed down.

    It’s easy to forget that just a few generations ago, there were immigrants who were white but hailed from Ireland or Germany or Italy and were treated poorly. The immigrants I’ve met (and this does not include refugees because maybe we’ll talk about them later) are well educated and held professional jobs in their home countries. When they came here, that was lost to them. I’m grateful to live in such a diverse community and it seems God is always putting people in my path who grew up in a different part of the world.

  2. When I think of the word “immigrant” I think of my friends and people that I have met over the 60+ years growing up and living in Chicago. I think of the students in my classrooms as a Chicago Public School teacher.. I think of many of their parents holding down several jobs to make ends meet. Working hard, loving their families and being people of joy and love. I think of my own Italian heritage and the stories of our family’s immigration that I heard form my father. Now, I think of the fear I see and the worry on the faces of parents and their children.

    My counter line to the Presidents jargon is “immigrant as industrious”

    industrious: diligent and hard-working.
    synonyms: hard-working, diligent, assiduous, conscientious, steady, painstaking, sedulous, persevering, unflagging, untiring, tireless, indefatigable, studious;

    These are the immigrants I know and love!

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