Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m a citizen of the United States of America. And now it’s time for a real discussion about a reality that the President would rather gloss over: Some of the tourists and business travelers who would benefit from an open American immigration policy aren’t necessarily in your backyard.
I’m referring to international travelers. The President is trying to create the idea that travelers from countries like Mexico are special because they’re supposedly innocent. Yeah, we know that Trump made that statement during his rallies, but in my home country, it’s been floating around the media for a few weeks now. And with the battle over the potential removal of a temporary immigration waiver that prevents many Venezuelans from entering the U.S., the idea has gained traction in the public.
In the past, Americans have exploited the idea that Syrian and Iraqi refugees were unqualified to make decisions about their own lives. Now that the world is faced with another flood of refugees from Venezuela, we’re in a bit of a climate-change moment. Therefore, people are calling this administration out for a lack of empathy for Venezuelans that need a hand.
It’s this fear that is also linked to an awareness that is spreading like wildfire: Americans are afraid of strangers. We’re also afraid that people won’t like us if we’re not carrying on a “traditional” American lifestyle. And we’re afraid that visitors from countries that don’t respect themselves and their politics might never respect us back. That’s why these politicians demonize the residents of Los Angeles. While American voter turnout is consistently lower during presidential elections, it’s still important.
To be blunt, I have lived here in L.A. for the past three decades. I’ve graduated from high school here, I’ve worked in film, television and other media; and most importantly, I’ve known foreigners for most of my life. I know how you get along with people from other countries. They might disagree with some of our decisions, but most of us can at least compromise and resolve our disagreements.
I’m not afraid to share stories about Venezuelans coming to L.A. to raise money for medical clinics or to live amongst us. In the same vein, we shouldn’t be afraid to share stories about my relatives, friends and work colleagues who are from countries like Morocco, Pakistan and India.
In this environment, the government should be actively teaching Americans to love each other and respect each other. It should be building bridges, not walls. We should embrace each other’s history, culture and mindset. Rather than the President saying, “F— you, Mexico,” why not launch a campaign to erase bad vibes that surround so many parts of our city, state and country? Think, “F— you, people who think you can vote people in or out of countries.” That sounds better than that, doesn’t it?
Donald Trump has done great damage to our country and to every other country we may encounter. Instead of focusing on how to solve problems, he creates fictitious one-on-one confrontations. Only by changing the narrative can we reconcile this nightmare Trump has created.
Al Maffi from Glendale is the executive producer of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Follow him on Twitter at @Maffi.