‘I’ve been called a race traitor:’ Hispanic man disagrees with march supporting illegal immigration

Posted at 10:29 PM, May 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-02 22:30:10-04

BELMONT, Mich. -- Immigration is once again in the spotlight across the country, with things like the migrant caravan arriving at the US/Mexico border in California and a march in Grand Rapids on Tuesday. About 1,000 people showed up for that march to ask for drivers licenses for undocumented people living in the United States.

But not everyone agrees with that request. Alejandro Balli knows his opinion isn't popular in the Hispanic community, but it's one he thinks needs to be heard. Balli grew up in West Michigan, but his grandmother immigrated from Mexico legally and wishes others would do the same.

Balli says his grandmother was the first in his family to come to American from a town near Mexico City.

"She took her time and she made sure to follow the law," said Balli. She was big on that. She wanted us to understand that it takes hard work and you have to earn your place. It's not a given. If you want something you have to work for it. She spent a long time working to become a resident of the United States.

It's her story that helped form Balli's narrative. He disagrees with the march held in Grand Rapids on Tuesday where demonstrators asked for drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.

"My daughter told me that one of her friend's families is non-documented and it really limits what they're able to do," said Raina Cook with Socialist Alternative GR at Tuesday's march. "We want to make sure that our friends and our neighbors have the same opportunities that we have."

Balli disagrees.

"Providing them with a license is legitimizing that they're here and that you're giving them more government assistance, more government recognition, which I think is wrong," said Balli. "If they want a driver's license, they should apply for citizenship, become legal and go through the same process as everybody else."

Balli says there's others in the Hispanic community that feel the same way, but are scared to speak up.

"I've actually been called a race traitor on more than one occasion because I disagree and I think that immigration should be stricter and I think that securing the border is a good idea" said Balli.

Balli is strongly voicing his opinion that illegal immigrants shouldn't receive any special treatment.

"I started to find out about all the privileges that they would receive for coming here illegally, like free college tuition  and car loans from the government," said Balli. "I've worked all my life and I'll never get anything like that. Why should they get a handout? I'm Mexican, they're Mexican, but they're getting better treatment than I would."

Balli proudly displays the American flag outside his home and says he was upset to see other flags at Tuesday's march.

"That bothers me because if you're here to be Americans and you want to live here then wave the American flag," said Balli. "You don't need to wave a foreign country's flag. If you're here to be an American, be proud of that and wave that flag."

Balli says he's lost a few friends because of his opinions and even a few family members, but he says he's going to continue to speak his mind.

Balli says he agrees with President Trump's opinions on immigration and adds that he thinks a wall does need to be built between the United States and Mexico.

Tuesday's march in Grand Rapids was one of several planned across the country. Grand Rapids Police brought in 50 extra officers to help keep everyone there safe.