On January 26th, Donald Trump ordered his administration to publish weekly crimes of immigrants and crack down on “sanctuary” cities that protect immigrants from deportation, threatening to withhold funds from these cities if they refuse to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The same day, a group of friends and I (Samuel Du Bois, Thomas Gonzalez, Arturo Jurado, Judy Melgarejo, and Max Melgarejo) created The Other Immigrant List (TOIL), a platform for immigrants to publish counter-lists that highlight their positive contributions.
We started out by writing contributions (first our own) then asked friends and family to do the same via a Google Form. What surprised us was we not only received lists, but success stories, family stories, immigration stories and stories of resistance.
People were willing to open up because it seemed to us that these stories longed to be told. Immigration is not easy to talk about. Immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants and Muslims, have been made scapegoats for America’s failures, and when people are constantly pointing fingers, one can feel ashamed about being born elsewhere. We are glad that people are finding courage with TOIL.
Our mission is to not only shed light on the truth with these stories, but also to debunk information that criminalizes immigrants. We’re not falling into an “us vs. them” mentality because when you call yourself a “good” immigrant, you are legitimizing Trump’s crime list and saying he’s making a valid argument. He is not.
The overwhelming majority of immigrants are not “criminals” by any commonly accepted definition of the term. In fact, whole new classes of “felonies” have been created which apply only to immigrants, and deportation has become a punishment for even minor offenses, according to a study from the American Immigration Council.
So, when Trump and his people say that immigrants present a threat to national security, the data does not back him up. What shows is xenophobia.
With TOIL, we are building a platform for immigrant resistance blended with storytelling. We’ve already reached people in Mexico and Ireland.
Each week, we’ll publish three different stories on our website and Facebook page. Any immigrant from across the U.S. and beyond can participate (no matter their legal status). To submit stories, we’re only asking for first names and a photo as an optional request. We’re respectful and aware of keeping certain information private.
Trump has demeaned Mexicans since he began his race for presidency. His weekly crime list falsely represents the immigrant community. He’s created an environment where Latinos and Muslims are the enemy, a tactic reminiscent of Nazi Germany.
If we could describe why we did this, in just a few words we would say, “We want to tell our truth.”
Aside from collecting and sharing these stories, we’re building community. We’re going to stay in touch with people who submitted their stories and keep them abreast with news around immigrants’ rights. We’re adding a “Take Action” page with various ways immigrants can affect change whether it’s by calling their state representatives, or by donating to nonprofit immigrants’ rights groups.
We’re also open to what folks want and need, so we’re going to be listening.
To read more stories, submit a story, or join the team, visit theotherimmigrantlist.com.