Ilana Glazer Believes Everyone Should Be An Ally To The Immigrant Community

Photo Courtesy of Comedy Central.

It's not a stretch to say President Trump and his administration have created new levels of fear for the immigrant community. His policies suggest that immigrants aren't welcome — from the travel and immigration ban enacted (and subsequently blocked in court) in the early days of his presidency, to expanding efforts to detain and deport undocumented immigrants, to the roll back of an Obama-era measure aimed at protecting undocumented parents. The nationalistic and xenophobic rhetoric he sometimes employs, which has contributed to a barrage of hateful incidents, sends the same message.

But despite all of this, activists and allies are not giving up. The phrase "I stand with immigrants" is resonating now louder than ever. Among those standing their ground on behalf of immigrants is Broad City's Ilana Glazer — and she thinks you should be an ally, too.

Glazer has been busy promoting her new film, Rough Night, and the new season of Broad City (in which President Trump's name will be bleeped). But at some point, she also made the time to join this year's I Am An Immigrant campaign. In a campaign video celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month, Glazer appears alongside stars such as Jason Sudeikis, America Ferrera, Uzo Aduba, and George Takei. The ad was directed by Colombian actress and director Paola Mendoza, and everyone recites the poem "I stand, Because I am…" written by Tony-award winning poet Lemon Anderson.

Glazer also made time to speak with Refinery29 about why she believes everyone should support immigrants in the United States, one simple yet powerful way we can be allies, and what her message would be for young immigrants living in the era of Trump.

The rights and the freedoms that we have in this country are too good not to share.
Ilana Glazer

Why do you think people should be supportive of the immigrant community?

"I think people should be supportive of immigrants because that is what our country was founded upon.

"The core value of our country is intended to be that every man is created equal — I like to think that every human is created equal — but I think that really includes immigrants and people of all socioeconomic classes in our country.

"Supporting immigrants is the most patriotic, most originalist that we could be regarding the Constitution. I just think that the rights and the freedoms that we have in this country are too good not to share. We founded ourselves upon that concept that we were sharing them, so just all of the sudden take them back — that’s not only unfair to me, like unjust, but I’m also like, ‘That’s not even mutually beneficial.’ I genuinely believe that the more freedom we share with people who want to be American the more we stand to profit."

What is a way we can be allies to the immigrant community?

“Where I grew up was not very diverse, it was a pretty homogenous population. And, you know, I witnessed a lot of racism and homophobia. I think that defending people, defending humans, in the moment is the simplest and most direct way to make an impact, to let an immigrant know that you’re an ally.

“It’s just really hard to move to another country and build a life! But you don’t have to have gone through something like that to have empathy. The sort of micro-defense of immigrants in your own community can really make a difference.”

Photo: Kisha Bari.

What would you tell a young immigrant at this point in time?

"I would say, 'Be proud of where you come from because it will continue to shape who you are.' In the crazy political landscape we are in now, part of me is also like, 'Be careful. Be sure that you treat your body and your space as a precious thing.'

"And if you’re a young immigrant and you’re here contributing to this country, maybe not every American knows how [to] thank you, but I wanna say 'thank you.' Our country was built on diversity and thrives in diverse ideas, diverse cultures, and even though some people are afraid of change in this way, I really think that at least half the country knows that’s why America is so great."

Any final thoughts?

"I really appreciate Paola [Mendoza] making space for immigrants in her video, but also for people who were born here, also for white people to have the place to say 'I stand with immigrants.'

"White people are feeling really weird in this country, and [so are other] people born in America. I think that there’s obviously a weird shift and upheaval happening from the top down, starting with the president, so it’s more — than ever important — to show that you’re an ally.

"I think it’s more important now to really go out and say it: 'I believe in no racism, I believe in equality, I stand with immigrants.' It’s more important now that we’re vocal."

This interview has been edited and condensed.