There’s nothing I can say about Karla Cornejo Villavicencio’s Jezebel essay, “A Theory of Animals,” about being an immigrant in the age of Trump, that is one-tenth as good as anything in the essay itself. Go read it.
Undocumented immigrants are good at surviving. We know how to find jobs, how to take care of each other when we are sick, what neighborhoods don’t require Social Security numbers to sign a lease, what public libraries have the best foreign language books, what local cops you can trust a domestic violence complaint to. We’ve built cities underground and for years we have thrived. We’ve watched Jay and Ye make “driving Benzes without benefits—not bad for some immigrants” a gangster boast. But the sun has come up on a new day. They know where we live now. They know how we’ve been surviving. They are determined to get rid of us, and we can no longer rely on our community’s miraculous evolution alone to protect us. We cannot expend all our energy every day just to survive, just to see another morning, like a desert animal. Because what is the lesson there? That we must shrink our hearts to make it? That we should grow thorns and hurt our loved ones if they come too close? That we should grow skin so thick that we may stop feeling? That we should lie still and not say anything, want anything, demand anything, strive for anything, march for anything, to expend as little energy as possible just to wake up in the morning for another day of being hunted for sport?