Julissa Arce is a social justice advocate and author of the book, My (Underground) American Dream, which chronicles her experience as an undocumented immigrant building a career on Wall Street. The views expressed here are her own.
Last night, Donald Trump trotted out many of his same old lines on immigration. He reaffirmed his plans to build his wall and promised he would deport millions of people like me. He went on to repeat his old claim that there are a lot of "bad, bad people" in the country who must be removed.
And then, a man who has spent his entire campaign demonizing Latinos tried his hand at speaking Spanish for the first time. What did he use my native language to say? That there were "bad hombres" in this country.
And you know what? I agree with Donald Trump. There are a lot of bad hombres in this country.
Bad hombres who believe that all bad people must be brown Spanish-speakers.
Bad hombres like the kind who make racist remarks and call all Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Bad hombres who want to take away the birthright citizenship of millions of Latinos. Bad hombres who want to ban an entire group of people from entering the country just because of their faith.
Trump wants undocumented immigrants to go to the back of the line. But that line doesn’t exist. Our immigration system is broken, and the answer is not a wall. The average undocumented immigrant has lived in the United States for more than a decade, goes to work, drops children off at school, meets up with friends, and goes to church. But he or she does all of those things with the very real fear of deportation. And currently, there's no way out. No process exists to "fix" the immigration status of the the 11 million undocumented immigrants living here.
And yet, despite the racism and xenophobia immigrants face, the hombres I know, like my late father, are some of the most amazing men this world has ever seen. My dad went to night school in order to earn his high school diploma. Then, alongside my mother, he built a successful business importing Mexican jewelry — not, as Donald Trump would have you believe, Mexican drugs.
It’s because of my father that I believe I can do anything a man can do. He taught me not just to drive, but to change a tire and the oil, too. That's the kind of hombre he was — kind, funny, and willing to sacrifice everything so that I could have a better life.
Then there's my brother, Julio Miguel. Next May, he'll become one of the hundreds of thousands of Latino students graduating from college; more than ever before. When he walks across the stage to accept his diploma, all four of my parents’ children will have college degrees. Educated, driven, hard-working: that's the kind of hombre my brother is.
My man, a first-generation, super handsome Mexican-American, was the first in his family to go to college. But my hombre didn’t just go to college. He went on to graduate at the top of his class while earning his Master's degree in Architecture.
My hombre treats me as his equal. He respects me, gives me the utmost support in everything I do; he is my biggest champion. One of the main reasons I can be on the road without a single worry during my book tour is because he cares devoutly for our three furry babies. So if Donald Trump was using "bad" in the Urban Dictionary sense, then yes, my man is the baddest hombre there is.
But Donald Trump wasn't just insulting my family and the hombres in my life. He would also have you believe that all Latinos live in inner-city hellholes filled with bad hombres. Yet according to the most recent Census data, Hispanic Americans saw the fastest growth in median income and the largest declines in poverty.
So where are all of the bad hombres, exactly?
Well, one of them was on stage at the debate last night, calling his opponent a "nasty woman." One of them was in the back of a bus, bragging about sexually touching women without their consent. The bad hombre I know is turning our democracy into a reality TV show and Election Night into a Bachelor-esque finale, complete with suspenseful, "will he accept the results?" moment.
So yes, I know a lot of Latino men. But the only bad, unpleasant, and unwelcome hombre I know goes by the name of Donald Trump.