Although Donald Trump’s immigration policies could one day force him and his family out of the United States, Mexican citizen David Perez supports the president-elect’s plan to crack down on enforcement and build a wall.
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“What appeals to me about Trump is the same message that appeals to all Americans that voted for him,” Perez, 32, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Trump’s message is about putting America first and doing what’s best for the American people, even if it’s not the best for me.”
He’s a first generation immigrant from Mexico City now residing in Utah on a student visa.
“Some friends of mine make fun of me for supporting Trump and his ‘racist policies,’” he added. “But when we discuss it deeper and they think about it, they agree it’s natural to feel protective of your home.”
Perez moved to the United States for college after a couple from Idaho who had been teaching him English encouraged him to apply for a student visa. He got a bachelor’s degree in computer animation, and when he was unable to get legal permanent residence decided to go for a second degree on a student visa. He’s now in his final year of a bachelor’s degree in business and marketing, and hopes to stay in the U.S. as long as he can, whether through more education or a job sponsorship program.
“I worry all the time, and it’s a point of constant stress for me and my family,” he told TheDCNF, regarding his prospects of staying in the country. “I anticipate staying for a couple more years.”
He is married to a Mexican citizen, and they have two U.S.-born children, ages 5 and 2. “I have lived in the U.S. for about 10 years now, and I have learned to love this country, the American people and their values,” he said. “I recognize the U.S. is what it is today because of hard working, law abiding people who have fought for doing what’s right.”
He hopes Trump will make it easier for people like him to come and live in the country legally, which he said is “tough” to do right now. Nevertheless, he says he and his wife believe they have no right to complain about immigration policies that put the interests of the country first.
“They run away from Mexico because it’s a country where laws don’t matter; corruption and crime run free from consequences,” he told TheDCNF, referring to his fellow Mexican immigrants. “I wish the best to anyone who comes here in search of a better life, but it doesn’t make sense to me to leave a country where the disregard of the law has made it the way it is, and then come to the U.S., and the first thing you do is disregard the laws of the land.”
Saying he felt “left behind in the cold,” by President Obama’s focus on helping illegal immigrants, Perez told TheDCNF he wants to see more of a conversation about legal immigrants and people like him on student visas. “For awhile there it seemed the best way to stay in the U.S. was to purposefully lose status to become illegal,” he said. “Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
Trump has promised to build a wall and talked of deporting some of the 11 million or so illegal immigrants already in the country, but says he wants to embrace legal immigrants. “I want people to come in,” he said at a rally in November. “I want tremendous numbers of people to come in. And we’re going to have that big, beautiful door in the wall. But you know what? They have to come in through a process, they have to come in legally.”