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Carla Triana, a senior studying business, poses for a portrait in 2015. Triana was elected president of ISU for the 2017-18 school year. 

Hispanic and Latino Ohio University students will share personal stories about immigration

Ohio University students and faculty are working to try to tear down the “wall” of racial profiling and immigration.

During the first Republican presidential debate, candidate Donald Trump expressed a need to build a “wall” to prevent immigrants from entering the United States.

“The wall stuff is pretty much vitriolic,” Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, associate director of the Ohio University Multicultural Center, said. “It is not the kind of discourse that we should be having as a country.”

Carla Triana, the president of the Hispanic and Latino Student Union, said most people think undocumented immigrants are “criminals,” and added that Trump’s comments tend to make people think that all immigrants are “rapists and terrorists.”

“But really all of these immigrants are coming for better lives,” Triana, a junior studying international business, said. “They know that if they get caught they will get in trouble and deported back.”

The way politicians discuss immigration leads to a “culture of fear,” delfin bautista, director of the LGBT Center, said in an email.

“We are taught to fear immigrants to then build walls that keep certain people out, but in many ways also keep us in, preventing us from engaging the dynamic and complicated world we live in,” bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase usage of their name, said in an email.

The United States Department of Homeland Security removed approximately 438,000 illegal immigrants in the U.S. in 2013. Of these 438,000, 72 percent were Mexican.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that Mexicans are the only people in the United States that are here illegally,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “Because of where (Mexicans) are geographically, they are the largest number, but that is not true that they are the only ones.”

The next highest percentage — 11 percent — of immigrants removed from the U.S. came from Guatemala. Honduras followed with 8.3 percent.

Both bautista and Chunnu-Brayda said people immigrate from all over the world, not only Latin American countries. However, racial profiling and politics overlook these other groups and put the focus on depicting Hispanic and Latino immigration in a negative light.

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“With politics, it just sets a general idea that Latinos are just coming here to steal jobs and just cause problems,” Erick Meza, a freshman studying business, said. “But realistically, most Latinos are just trying to leave their countries in order to provide something better, like a better standard of living, for their kids and family.”

After seeing political unrest in Venezuela, Joaquin Molinos said he is grateful for the stability of his economic situation and having worked in Casa Lopez Mexican Restaurant for eight years.

“There is not equality and it is not safe,” Molinos said. “Everyone eats in (the U.S.), whether you have money or not. In my country, the poor cannot. There are many job opportunities. There is support here for people who does not have enough money.”

The Hispanic and Latino Student Union will host “Cual es tu historia?” in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and will feature different students speaking about their different backgrounds and cultural influences.

Triana will speak about her struggles of coming to the U.S. as an illegal immigrant from Mexico when she was five years old. After being an undocumented immigrant for eight years, Triana said she received her residence card at 13 and became a citizen at 18.

“Very often when we hear these narratives, we don’t think that (immigrants) are around us or that they are in our school or in the office with us. We think of these people as completely different from who we are,” Chunnu-Brayda said. 

—Yerith Dagostino contributed to this report.




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