In Defense of “Bad Hombres”: The Case of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez

On Tuesday, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was detained by ICE while dropping his kids off at school. Under Trump’s new immigration enforcement order, he’s considered a priority for removal due to a decade-old DUI conviction. Trump’s administration paints people like Mr. Avelica-Gonzalez as criminals, unworthy of existing in this country and unfit for belonging in our body politic.

But rather than provide reasons for why he should be allowed to stay in the U.S. — there are many — I want to talk about why all of us, as feminists, should stand up for and defend supposed “bad hombres,” like Mr. Avelica-Gonzalez.

When asked about immigration policy and enforcement at the third presidential debate, Donald Trump responded by saying:

We’ll get them out, secure the border, and once the border is secured, at a later date we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here and we’re going to get them out.

Trump certainly isn’t the first person to create a distinction between “good” immigrants (those who contribute “positively” to U.S. society) and “bad” immigrants (those who pose “a threat” to public safety).

What the (false) binary obscures is the fact that, in the eyes of the state and society, boys and men of color are always already criminal. Men of color are labeled dangerous and delinquent by virtue of their existence, regardless of their actual behavior. Labeling men like Mr. Avelica-Gonzalez a criminal for a ten-year-old DUI charge goes hand in hand with the criminalization of all men (and people) of color. It’s a classification that works to dehumanize and demonize all of us, holding brown and black people to impossible standards that white people never would be — and never are — expected to meet.

Feminism demands that we commit “to the survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female.” It requires that we stand up for the men disenfranchised and dispossessed by a government that views their race, gender, class, and legal status as rationales to keep them locked up and kept out. As Audre Lorde so famously said:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.

I fear my immigrant father will suffer the same fate as Mr. Avelica-Gonzalez. Every self-professed feminist should be alarmed and moved to action by that fear. The world calls our men criminals, deviants, gangsters, lawbreakers, thugs, offenders. We call them classmates, friends, brothers, fathers, lovers, partners. Trump considers them deportable. We consider them family: flawed, vulnerable, and imperfect, like the rest of us.

Header image via KUT

Durham, NC

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Barbara is a doctoral student at The University of North Carolina interested in im/migration and migrant activism and organizing.

Read more about Barbara

Join the Conversation