Trump Among the Younger Generation: How Do High School Students Feel about the Donald?

High school students from two school districts shared their thoughts on the Trump Administration’s most notable orders so far.

By Adriana Arceo

High school students from two school districts shared their thoughts on the Trump Administration’s most notable orders so far. Hardly a dull moment has passed since President Donald Trump has taken office, and students at Fountain Valley’s Los Amigos High School and Huntington Park’s Linda E. Marquez High School, like most, have had an ever-growing anticipation towards the subsequent in Trump’s agenda. Among a myriad of diverting qualities, President Trump’s controversial decisions have been his most eye-grabbing, especially in the media. Within his first year, President Trump has dismantled a considerable amount of policies implemented by the previous administration. With each modification, more headlines are added to front pages.

Trump’s timeline: an evolution of President Trump’s most newsmaking decisions

The travel ban, formally known as Executive Order 13769, was one of Trump’s first protest-inducing orders on Jan. 26, 2017. The ban called for a suspension of the US Refugee Admissions program for a period of 120 days and a restriction on the admission of individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. Currently, the ban is under the revision of the Supreme Court, and the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – have been reorganized to exclude Sudan and include Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela.

Following the ban, the Trump Administration targeted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals with the intention of ending the program. In response, protesters rallied around the country in support of the many DACA beneficiaries. As of Sep. 4, 2017, there was a total of 689,000 recipients on the deferred-action program. Presently, the Supreme Court is working to decide the program’s fate as quickly as spring. 

In turn, immigration raids have risen throughout the country with Trump’s encouragement. Last August, a four-day operation to seize undocumented individuals with criminal records – a claim that was published on ICE’s government website – resulted in the arrest of 650 individuals. Of those 650 immigrants, 457 were not of the targeted group — put simply, it was bad timing. Recently, ICE has continued their operation in stores such as 7-Eleven stores where 21 people were arrested in a 98 store inspection of employees Jan. 2018.

These publicly controversial decisions have been part of an ongoing dialogue discussing possible next steps – conversation that has reached the younger generation.

University High: What are the students thinking under the Trump Administration?

Adjacent to UCI, we find University High School: a warm, bustling school, and proud home of the Trojans. The school has a long list of notable former alumni, from Olympic silver medalists Jeff and Peter Campbell, to actor and former SNL cast member Will Ferrell. The school is predominantly Asian (51%), followed by a large Caucasian demographic (34%), and comparably small enrollment of Hispanic (8%) and Black (2%) students.

Among this student body is Liv, 15. The white sophomore, when asked about the president, gave her thoughts on the president’s notable behavior. “Donald Trump is a little crazy. I don’t think people know what to expect from him. I don’t really like what he is doing.”

Another 17-year-old Arab student, who chose to remain anonymous, shared his sentiments about the president as well. “Well, I never necessarily liked Donald Trump simply because of how he built his platform on hate and singling out minority groups,” said the senior. “…he is very blatant but not even in a good way. As commander in chief, you’re supposed to keep a level of professionalism to be able to communicate to other humans on this planet but all he does is go on Twitter temper tantrums.”

The 17 year old senior also had strong sentiments about the president’s intentions with the DACA program. “It’s very disappointing what he is trying to do because the American dream is coming here and finding an opportunity and building up to create a better future for yourself.”

Liv shared similar thoughts: “I don’t think it is fair for him to take away their opportunities because they worked just as hard as anyone else.” In Orange County alone, there are a minimum of 3,000 to 4,999 DACA recipients that could have their opportunities curtailed pending the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter. “I think we should have priorities but not at the cost of the people in the DACA program,” said the sophomore.

On the travel ban, Liv expressed her concerns. “My mom’s friend is Iranian so I’m scared it could affect her. She’s a really nice person — I don’t think it’s right that Donald Trump is taking the decision to cut people like her out for no good reason other than where they come from.”

The overall tone of fear for Trump’s future actions towards people of color was common among both students. “I believe that some presidents, such as Obama and Bush, have done some things that Trump also wants to do, such as deporting illegal immigrants but what Trump is doing is scarier because he is blaming so many problems on certain ethnic or religious groups,” said the anonymous Arab senior.

Huntington Park: A similar train of thought

In the Los Angeles school district, we find Linda E. Marquez High School in the small city of Huntington Park. Huntington Park is a working-class city, with a 97% Hispanic or Latino population, which reflects onto the high school — 99.6% of the student body is Hispanic.

The students at Marquez High School had plenty to opine in regards to Trump. Adriana Villicana, a 16-year-old Latina student, commented on his verbal impact: “Donald Trump is a president who seems lost in the woods. He knows what he wants to do but he does it in a fashion that is horribly wrong. The way he uses his words is in a manner that seems to be racist.”

Villicana also noted the President’s discourse in relation to DACA, and more specifically, Hispanic culture. “President Trump’s decision to discontinue the DACA program seems to be the most racist move he has made, other than speaking poorly about the Hispanic culture.”

William Rivas, a Latino 18-year-old senior at LMHS, also opposed the decision to bring DACA to an end. “I feel that this decision harms the opportunity of many students and stops the potential that people can provide,” said Rivas. In the 40th Congressional District, which includes Huntington Park, the total number of DACA recipients whose opportunities Rivas showed concern for is 10,800.

The travel ban was another topic the students addressed. Villicana called Trump out on its seemingly prejudiced order. “The decision has affected many Muslims who are trying to find something better for themselves and their families. This decision has been one his worst decisions he has ever made during his time as a president,” said the 16-year-old.

On the subject of immigration raids, Rivas also shared his impressions on the rise of shakedowns near his residence. Los Angeles has been a frequent target in ICE raids, where 101 people were detained for their status last September, in addition to the 23 7-Eleven arrests. “My opinion is that this is very racist and unfair for people,” said Rivas.

Villicana had strong sentiments about the raids as well. “These raids, in my opinion, are getting out of hand… the raids are making my people look more insignificant than what the President thinks.”

The worry of the raids extends to the Mayor of Huntington Park, Graciela Ortiz. “We haven’t seen that in our communities, but I am concerned about it, I am worried about what will occur… we’re a big target in the southeast,” said the mayor of the nearly completely Hispanic or Latino city.

Trump in 2018

What will this year hold in controversies for the administration? Only time will tell. It is safe to say, however, that we have another interesting year in front of us, especially as the Supreme Court considers DACA and the travel ban.

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