The Daily Northwestern

First-generation American voters at NU discuss election rhetoric around immigrants

Mariana Alfaro, Web Editor

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As Dalit Hendel sat in a room filled with students on the verge of tears Tuesday night, the Weinberg senior remembered what her parents had taught her about diversity.

“Diversity helps expand the mind,” she recalled. “It has been proven that segregation and the lack of diversity are detrimental to thinking.”

Hendel, who was raised in a Spanish-speaking home in New Jersey by Uruguayan immigrants, is a first-generation American voter who cast a ballot in a U.S. presidential election for the first time Tuesday.

She did not vote for president-elect Donald Trump.

“He used fear tactics and stereotypes to get votes,” Hendel said. “It kind of is feeding into a demographic that is uninformed about how the economy works and how jobs work. It doesn’t make any sense.”

It was that rhetoric about immigrants that made SESP freshman Christina Gutierrez vote for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Gutierrez said she chose to do so instead of casting a protest vote after her candidate of choice, Sen. Bernie Sanders, did not win the nomination.

For Gutierrez, who was raised in Illinois by Mexican parents, filling out an absentee ballot in her dorm room filled her with emotion.

“I didn’t feel like it was just me voting; I felt like I had a whole generation behind me,” she said. “I was voting for my parents, for my siblings, for my family as a whole and for my culture.”

And although she was still tempted to write in Sanders, Gutierrez said she decided to go for what she called “the lesser of two evils.” She voted for Clinton, who won Illinois but lost the election.

Gutierrez, who spoke to The Daily before results came in, said Clinton failed to gather the same support from the Latino community she had back in 2008, when she first ran for president. Both Clinton and Trump, Gutierrez said, made multiple failed attempts at trying to gain the Latino vote — from Clinton’s “Abuela” article to Trump’s “Taco Bowl” tweet.

During Trump’s victory speech early Wednesday morning, he said although, “we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone. … All people and all other nations.”

Medill sophomore Julia Song, who became a naturalized citizen at the end of September, also voted for Clinton. Although she said she is not a big fan of Clinton, she voted for her due to the “threat Trump poses to immigrants.”

Song, who moved to the United States from Korea when she was in second grade, said she was confident Clinton would win. She added that she does not believe Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric will disappear after the election.

For Hendel, Trump’s success sets a new standard for the next election.

“It’s scary that he opened the floodgates to these extreme ideas,” she said. “It’s kind of horrible.”

Email: alfaro@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @marianaa_alfaro

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