After Axios reported that President Donald Trump intended to end birthright citizenship with an executive order, experts, journalists, and others weighed in about the legalities and repercussions of such a move. And while many called out Trump for his blatant attack on communities of color and for using this issue as a racist mobilizing tool for the right, Perez Hilton came in with a very bad take.
“I don’t agree with Donald Trump on many things, but I DO think that if a child is born in America to parents who are here illegally that they should not be granted automatic citizenship,” he said. “And I say this as a liberal and Latina!”
While Hilton – aka Mario Lavandeiro – is the son of immigrants, his family doesn’t have the typical immigrant experience. Because they came from Cuba, the US government put his family on the path of citizenship through the now terminated wet-foot, dry-foot policy that allowed those from the Caribbean island to pursue residency a year after their arrival. Even as immigration laws tightened, the government granted Cubans (who made the very dangerous journey by sea) this protection, which helped them start their lives in a new country without fear of deportation. However, for many other immigrants also fleeing poverty, violence, and oppression, they make the also treacherous journey to the US, and they often have no way to adjust their status.
Hilton, who was born in Miami, speaks from a position of privilege. If birthright citizenship had not existed at the time of his birth, he likely would have been OK, but it’s because his family had a protection that many others didn’t.
After his comments went viral, Perez released a video where he clarified his comments. “Everybody who is here now, I think all of those children and their families should stay here,” he said. “Going forward, I would like a policy or policies that will discourage illegal immigration… And I am not of the school of thought that I have to disagree with everything that Donald Trump says.”
But Perez’s comments fail to acknowledge the fact that many of the people fleeing to this country are affected by interventionist US policies. And to then deny their US-born children citizenship is wrong. Though Perez says he wants immigration laws to be more open, he also believes that people should not come here without documentation. “I want there to be people here who want to be here and contribute to this country and make their lives better and our country better,” he said. But his words uphold the right’s argument that undocumented immigrants are a drain on this country and that we should remain suspicious of those who enter without documentation, instead of viewing them as victims of the US’ broken immigration laws.
As a Latino with a sizable following, it’s irresponsible of Perez to speak out on this topic, without getting at the root of why people immigrate and taking time to explain how ending birthright citizenship targets non-European immigrants.
As a result of his comments, many have criticized Hilton. Check out a few comments below.