President Trump’s recent remarks about building a border wall reminds me of George Lopez’s 2017 HBO special, “The Wall,” which was taped at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. His main message was that a wall will not stop immigration nor should we prevent immigrants from coming. (America now has 62 million Latinos.) Through his political satire, Lopez insists that Trump is a racist and gives false information.
Even though Lopez is a comedian, he is astute about the current state of America. Here are four jokes he told and examples of what came to be:
Lopez said: “Trump says to go back to your country. But this is my country, I’m fourth generation Mexican-American. I don’t know anyone in Mexico!” That would be like taking a lion out of the zoo and putting it in the jungle. He continues the joke by explaining that he wouldn’t know how to act. In July, Trump tweeted that four women members of Congress should “go back” to their countries. He was referring to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was born in New York of Puerto Rican heritage; Rep. Rashid Tlaib, who was born in Michigan to Palestinian immigrants; Rep. Ilhan Omar, who came from Somalia to the United States at 10 years old; and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, an African American who was born in Ohio. At a Republican rally, Trump even got a crowd to chant: “send her back,” referring to Rep. Omar. But this is our country.
Lopez: “Trump should just hire Mexicans to build the wall. It would be cheaper.” At a press conference February 2019, Trump said, “we will build a human wall if necessary.” In January, Trump claimed America was suffering from a national emergency (immigration), which led to partial shutdown of the government. Lopez was poking fun at the idea of spending $30 billion on a wall. He suggests that money would be better spent on social issues like education, clean water and healthcare. As always bringing it back to laughter, he said, “That’s so much money [$30 billion] they can fix society’s problems and still have leftover money to throw a party!”
Lopez: “You want people to stop coming to this country? Stop hiring Latinos at low wages. Find someone to raise your kids, cook and pick fruit.” According to a 2018 New York Times story, the Trump Organization employed undocumented immigrants to work on its Florida gulf resort. They earned about $13.00 an hour to do jobs like cooking and cleaning. The article states that “undocumented immigrants are overrepresented in low-skill jobs such as farming, construction and child care.” Trump just practices when he claims to not preach. And Lopez knows that.
Lopez: “Trump says that Mexicans are lazy, and also that they are taking American jobs. Pick one.” Lopez observes poignantly that statements like “Mexicans are lazy” and “they are taking American jobs” are not true. He acknowledges that Mexicans/Latinos perform the jobs that Americans do not want. According to Vox, the Trump Organization is a regular employer of H-2B workers. Companies using the H-2B program must prove that they are unable to find American workers to take these jobs. The Department of Labor allowed the company to hire hundreds of foreigners since they could not find Americans. You can’t have it both ways.
Lopez: We’re scared of real things like ICE. I had a party once and yelled we need more ice. Everyone scattered. Earlier this year, Trump announced a weekend raid. “ICE is gonna take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries, take the criminals out, put them in prison….” The fear is not a joke.
But it’s this point that Lopez made in 2017 that still resonates with me two years later. Throughout his show, Lopez reiterated that Latinos are American. He said, “So American it hurts.” He ended by saying, “Everyone who gets up and works makes America great. It’s already great. It’s the best country in the world. This country was made by immigrants and continues to be made by immigrants. That’s what makes America great!”
Elizabeth S. Roldán is a freelancer/researcher/Nuyorican from the Bronx. She has a B.A. from Binghamton University and an M.A. in Liberal Arts from Georgetown University. She tweets from @elizabethsrold.