A young Republican with almost zero political experience is running for Congress in Michigan — and she’s using her status as a former undocumented immigrant to argue in favor of Donald Trump’s immigration agenda.
“I was brought to America from Taiwan as a 10-year-old girl without knowing a word of English,” Whittney Williams says in a campaign ad, as she aims to unseat a Democrat who flipped the district in last fall's midterms. “My family overstayed their visas, and as a result, I spent the next 16 years living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant.”
Williams’ stance on immigration may seem unusual given her background: Her family entered the U.S. using tourist visas in 1992 and stayed after their visas expired. Williams managed to obtain citizenship in 2013, four years after getting married.
In an interview with MLive, Williams said she grew up afraid that any minor infraction could lead to her deportation: “If someone knew (about your immigration status), if you told somebody, they could take advantage of you. It’s a constant fear. And you’re constantly told, ‘Oh, you’re an illegal immigrant,’ not, you know, human. That takes a toll on you as you hear that constantly.”
Despite this, Williams, 36, said she supports Trump’s immigration policies and said building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would help “stop the flow” of migrants.
“When you look at a problem, of course, you want to stop it first, so you can resolve what’s in here, because if you keep having this flow … this number here is just going to get bigger and bigger,” she told MLive.
In her campaign ad, Williams claims Democrats don’t care about immigrants like her. “Politicians knew of us: They called us ‘Dreamers,’ and quite frankly, used us as political props for their own personal gain,” she says.
Williams, who currently serves as the director of diversity of the 11th Congressional District Republican Committee, is hoping to unseat Haley Stevens, a Democrat who flipped the district during last year’s midterms.
Stevens, who served as the chief of staff for President Obama’s auto task force, is the first Democrat to represent the district since 2003.
Cover: Image from Whittney Williams' campaign website