Despite the unjust deportations they face today, this town supported Trump
The residents of Elkhart (Indiana) valued Trump's political speech, considering the serious unemployment they faced. Now, they have decided to react against the deportation of an illegal immigrant.
Elkhart County describes itself, in the voice of its residents, as a place for entrepreneurs and workers who recognize the value of hard work and the ability to earn rewards after much effort. It is a place where people with "eighth grade education" manage to be multimillionaires.
As the Chicago Tribune reports, immigration was rarely spoken of in this county until one of its own was threatened by the new policies of the ICE and the Trump administration.
Armando Páez, a 58-year-old Colombian, has lived in the United States for 18 years, working as an waiter at Antonio’s Italian Restaurant and with a second job as a packer in a company, to pay for the studies of his three children, in a town where only 13% of residents manage to obtain a high school degree.
When his neighbors learned that Antonio expected to be deported, the reactions were immediate. He is a man who works 18 hours a day to provide a family that "he barely sees". According to his colleagues, "if working hard to climb the ladder is the 'Elkhart style', Páez represents the standard."
The paradox in Armando's case is even more convoluted.
His deportation order was issued last fall during the Obama Administration, and both his boss, Mary Whitt, and his fellow citizens, collected signatures to ask for the removal of Armando’s case. But in the same way, and after Trump's open anti-immigrant rhetoric, they granted their vote to the now-President of the United States.
Elkhart County voted 63% in favor of Trump, adding up to 57% of Indiana's vote. Mary Whitt claims to have voted for Trump because she felt identified with the candidate, as he was a "businessman" like her, the media says. “As for his immigration stance, she hoped his administration would be ‘more logical’ in deciding who to deport.”
The Chicago Tribune interviewed other residents, who said they voted for Trump in hopes of reinforcing immigration policies, saying they "did not care about the anti-immigrant rhetoric of his campaign," however, they never imagined that the new policies also would include people like Armando Páez.
In 2000, a year after arriving in the United States, Paez was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, which would have made him a deportation priority.
The petition to "help Armando stay in America with his family and become an American citizen" has collected more than 10,000 signatures in the county, and has been sent to local politicians, the Department of Homeland Security and the president himself.
Being a county known for its caravan car industry, Elkhart has based its economy on caravan repair and construction, transforming it into the "Caravan Capital of the World", but even so, especially during the recession, the unemployment rate reached 20%.
Although the economy has improved in the past year, its population chose Trump after considering him the "lesser of two evils", despite his shameless attitude.
Following the new immigration measures, the large population of the county is in open displeasure with the Administration, especially in cases like the one of Robert Beristain in April and now the case closer to home, that of Armando Páez.
- Read here the case of Roberto Beristain
Paez will be deported today, after celebrating the marriage of one of his daughters and having one of them graduate from Purdue University in Indianapolis. Paez has decided to sacrifice himself so that his family can stay in the United States, because both his wife and children entered legally but overstayed their visas. His children are protected by the Deferred Action (known as DACA) for now, and his wife will have to manage somehow without the support of her husband.
"This is the best country in the world," Marta said, "but it has too many inhumane problems. That is the word: 'inhuman' ".