Trump’s Immigration Policy Plans will Send Adjuncts to the Unemployment Line

It’s already clear that Trump’s plans for “making America great again” didn’t include adjunct/contingent faculty, but, for some, it wasn’t clear that he is going to make our jobs go away.

He most certainly is.

For those of us, such as myself, who teach in the border region, and in particular, teach in the Community College System, significant numbers of our students are immigrants, the children or family members of immigrants, or are American citizens, who for a variety of reasons, a big one being financial, live on the other side of the border and commute to school on a daily basis.

Many other students simply “look” like immigrants, if you’re racist presumption of an immigrant is someone who:

  1. “Looks” Latino, Arab, African, Asian
  2. Chooses to speak a language other than English in public
  3. Wears “ethnic” clothing
  4. Speaks with an accent

Before he even embarks on the building of his “wall,” likely paid for by cuts to social and educational programs, the hardline stance that Trump promises on immigration will negatively impact enrollment in Community Colleges and Higher Ed nationwide.

Let’s break it down.

1) The Dreamers:  As of 2016, there are an estimated 2.1 million undocumented students living in the United States. Between 200,000 and 225,000 are currently enrolled in US colleges. The repeal of the Dream Act will not simply put the enrollment status of the Dreamers in college at risk. Further, if colleges are forced to deny enrollment to these students in the future effects on college enrollment will be severe.  Clearly, fewer students will mean fewer sections for adjunct/contingent faculty to teach.

2)  The Undocumented Immigrant Population as a whole:  There are an estimated 11.2 million undocumented immigrants in the US.  One should consider that these are not people who are separate from the American population.  They are often married to American citizens, or have American children who depend on them for support.  These children in turn rely on the support of the parents so that they can attend college.  While the threat of deportation is always a reality, the increasing threat of deportation means that many would-be college students will lose the financial and familial support they need to go to college.  Again, fewer students, and fewer sections.

3) Border Militarization:  Because of the often low wages in relation to the cost of living in places like San Diego, there are a significant number of American citizens (including several “Anglo” adjuncts I personally know) who live in places like Tijuana and commute to the US to teach on a daily basis.  Border crossings can sometimes take up to several hours.  Militarizing the border with the threat, not simply of a wall, but with increased scrutiny at border crossings will increase the wait times, and make it harder for students to attend classes.

4)  Immigration Enforcement:  One need only look back at the passage of bills like AB1070 in Arizona to get a sense of where immigration enforcement can head.  This bill, though later amended, allowed for authorities who have “reasonable suspicion” to stop and check a person’s immigration status, and if one couldn’t produce some form of identification could keep them in custody.  What exactly constitutes a “reasonable suspicion”?  When you have a soon-to-be President who speaks of a blanket ban for Muslims in this country, does this mean wearing a beard or a Hijab?

And if you think this can’t or doesn’t happen, then you should talk to the Latinos riding the San Diego trolley who have been approached by the Border patrol and checked for their status.

Creating a climate of fear and discomfort does not aid enrollment-it deters it.

Several California community college senates and governing boards have already adopted resolutions against cooperating with immigration officials.  You should support these resolutions.

If you can’t bring yourself to think about the impact it will have on the people I have mentioned above, consider how it will affect you, because your job may depend upon it.

Geoff Johnson

A Good Adjunct