By Kayla Tucker – Managing Editor
After Donald Trump made offensive statements about Mexican immigrants during his June 16 presidential bid announcement, a Grand Rapids woman responded with a letter to Trump that went viral when a video of her expressing her concerns was posted on Facebook.
“I was angry at first and I knew I didn’t want to respond in a negative manner,” said Adriana Almanza, a 28-year-old admissions counselor at Grand Valley State University. “I think far too often people respond negatively and honestly it creates more division and more hate.”
The video begins with Almanza introducing her father, Raul Almanza, and saying that “it is no secret that he came here undocumented, unauthorized, or illegal, as you call it.”
In Trump’s speech, he said that “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.”
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trump went on to say that he assumes these “problems” are also coming not only from Mexico but from South and Latin America and “probably from the Middle East.”
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard these types of comments, and certainly not going to be the last time,” Almanza said. “But I think it hits me the same every single time.”
In her letter, Almanza tells Trump that her father came to the United States to find work to support his parents and nine siblings back home.
Almanza described her father as “hardworking and humble and always willing to go above and beyond for anyone.” She said in her letter that he instilled “the importance of education and a degree, even though he didn’t have one.”
Almanza has a master’s degree in education from GVSU.
As she highlights these “humble beginnings,” Almanza tells Trump there are millions more like her father and he should get to know them in order to appreciate Mexico.
“I hope that one day when I have children, I hope that they have half the relationship with…their father that I have with my father,” Almanza said. “I don’t know anyone that does not like my father.”
Almanza said it’s not surprising that Trump is getting as much positive feedback as he is.
“The honest-to-god truth is there are so many people that think and act like Donald Trump,” Almanza said. “It’s not just him that worries me. It’s the millions of others that are teachers and doctors and lawyers.”
Almanza said she is researching presidential candidates but it is too early for her to know who might be a better fit in the Oval Office.
“People need to get out and vote,” Almanza said. “They need to exercise their right to vote. It would be really unfortunate if someone with these types of ideas and thoughts made it to the presidency.”
Besides being an admissions counselor at GVSU, Almanza also sits on the advisory committee for the Latin American studies program, is an adviser for the Advocates for Immigration Reform, works with the students in GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) and is involved in the Oliver Westman Freshman Academy programs.
As seen on her Facebook posts before and after Trump’s comments sparked an even bigger response, Almanza said she has always been involved in social justice issues and has no future plans of keeping her opinions to herself.
“I’m in education by profession but at heart I’m a social activist,” she said.