Trump’s Immigration Plan: Pièce De Résistance, or Piece of Work?

Fewer border crossings, for now, but at what cost?

A dark, foreboding line of lightning bolts striking the ground in the distance, overlaying a US flag.
A dark, foreboding line of lightning bolts striking the ground in the distance, overlaying a US flag.

President Trump’s persistent loyalty among his supporters is based in large part on his aggressive policies toward immigrants and other minority groups, such as Black Lives Matter, Muslims, and LGBT.

They clearly believe any amount of collateral damage, deception, or any tactic is okay so long as he remains contentious toward those groups. He knows that.

And so they adore him, although he disarmed America’s ability to fight pandemics after taking office and then bungled the coronavirus response so badly that tens of thousands of Americans, so far, needlessly perished. Never mind that he also delayed the economic recovery for an untold number of months by refusing to take firm and steady action early on, causing irreparable economic harm and causing us to lose a good chunk of our lives. Trump didn’t start the pandemic, but today he’s largely given up trying to do anything about it. How do his supporters react to all this? Sixty million shrugs.

Whatever you think about immigration, Trump has deeply demoralized and divided our country, and the collateral damage has far exceeded any benefit made possible because of his immigration policies.

It’s true that most Americans don’t want uncontrolled border crossings, and most people don’t want hundreds of desperate migrants dying on our border every year.

But most Americans also don’t want to destroy migrant families. And most of us believe we need them and understand we’re a nation of immigrants.

Immigrants help our economy as a whole. They add more than they take, and most native-born Americans benefit immensely as a result. During the first months of the pandemic they were considered essential workers. And the available data reveals American-on-American crime is probably worse then immigrant-on-American crime.

Any large demographic group contains criminal elements, including murderers. And the human cost of progress & construction has never been without pain and loss. Ninety-six workers died building the Hoover dam. Eleven workers died erecting the Golden Gate Bridge. One thousand workers died during the construction of the Erie Canal. The Transcontinental Railroad took 1200 souls. The World Trade Center? Sixty deaths.

Trump himself sewed the seeds of death when he prematurely prioritized the economy over human safety. And now, how many kids, teachers, and other Americans will get sick and perish as we reopen schools?

More generally, what is the acceptable cost, in human lives, to maintain, build, or rebuild an economy? One thing is for sure. No country in history has ever thought it to be zero.

So why are we holding migrants, who have historic roots in our country, to a higher standard than ourselves, especially when they’re providing as much value per capita to our society as we are and are committing less crime? Why are conservatives electing the kind of cruel leaders that will wield an iron-fist against immigrants when they know that same weapon will be used against other Americans, their family members and friends included?

Isn’t the cure worse than the disease? Isn’t Trump causing more carnage to America than immigrants are? Yet, he, of all people, doesn’t deserve to be fired?

Before you consider an answer, let’s review some, but not all, of the other carnage he’s wrought:

  • American farmers have, perhaps for decades to come, lost many of their markets because of his trade wars.
  • He’s caused the national debt to explode dangerously with his tax cuts for himself and his wealthy friends and he is pledging to defund social security and medicare — a promise that, if fulfilled, will end those programs just a few years from now.
  • Thousands of experts across the political spectrum (including former officials from his own administration and 70 former Republican national security officials) are warning that America and its allies are less secure under him and that he is way over his head on almost everything.
  • He’s deported American military members and also wants to deport their US-born kids.
  • Migrant children have died in US detention centers, with many of them sexually abused by their protectors. Today, hundreds continue to live in deplorable conditions, locked away indefinitely from their families. And thousands have been expelled since March, their whereabouts now unknown to all, including their families.
  • He’s abandoned allies on the battlefield against the wishes and desires of our senior military leadership.
  • He has actively encouraged white supremacy to flourish in our land. Unrest has followed. Hate crime is up. He has used federal agents to incite riots at demonstrations to score points with his base. He has refused to acknowledge or address the problems raised by Black Lives Matter and other protest groups and instead calls them terrorists or thugs while he fawns appreciatively over violent neo-Nazi and other hate groups that have actually killed innocent Americans and that incite riots at protests. In the meantime, he acts as an unapologetic rabble-rouser by falsely blaming Democrats and minorities for every ancient ill under the sun, including the multi-generational conditions in American inner-cities and the complicated long-standing factors that led to their decline in the first place. Inner-cities today serve more like prisons for their economically and socially impoverished residents, but he’s not trying to help, only trying to capitalize on this sad state of affairs that never seems to change, year after year after year. Trump wants us to believe Democrats are burning down the cities and neighborhoods, but the truth is that conservative policies are causing massive unrest. You piss on people long enough and they will fight back.
  • He’s relentlessly attacked the civil liberties of LGBT, banned and expelled them from the military though he himself refused to serve, and reversed years of progress in their fight for equality under the law.
  • Millions of Americans have already lost health insurance as his administration seeks to undermine the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, and Medicare. He’s even fought to remove millions of people from health insurance during the pandemic.
  • Gun violence has gone unabated as the NRA funnels Russian and other money into his, and other Republican campaign coffers.
  • He’s transferred/sold classified nuclear and missile technology to Saudi Arabia and shrugged his shoulders when Saudi sheiks likely sent an assassin team to murder an American resident traveling overseas.
  • He’s undermined the Constitution by trying to go around Congress with over-reaching executive orders and fake declarations of national emergencies, and by corrupting the courts by appointing hundreds of unqualified, ideologically-driven judges to lifetime positions.
  • He’s destroyed the rule of law by corrupting the DOJ in order to blunt investigations into his own crimes, by pardoning convicted friends, and by pursuing vengeance-minded investigations against FBI and other government personnel who investigated him (with zero proof such investigations against him were politically motivated).
  • The planet is under attack by him. He’s eliminated or undermined hundreds of important environmental rules/laws, and the fight against climate change is quickly becoming a lost cause as he dawdles.
  • Crime is on the rise. So is unrest. All on his watch.
  • American life expectancy is falling as he seeks to double-down on the kinds of (conservative) policies directly attributed to that recent reversal.
  • His wall is destroying swaths of ecologically-sensitive borderland.
  • Our democracy is on life support. He espouses a relentless stream of false and dangerous conspiracy theories. He steadfastly refused to protect our elections from foreign influence. His richest supporters have expended millions of dollars suing democratically controlled states to weaken their election systems and tie them up in court. And he’s publicly stated he intentionally sabotaged the US post office to hurt mail-in ballot systems in the coming election.

Surely we can debate the issues, the quotas, and the migrant vetting processes, and elect better politicians who’ll more carefully consider the causes of, and solutions to unwanted migration and who’ll fulfill the will of the people without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We can, but conservatives won’t. So why?

After all, the greatest unwanted migrant surge coming over our southern border in recent memory happened in 2019 under Trump, two long years into his first term.

Chart for Southwest Border Migration FY 2020
Chart for Southwest Border Migration FY 2020

His heavy hand worked to reverse that surge, for a while. But now the rate of border crossings in 2020 is steadily climbing toward the same levels he saw when he first came into office in 2016. One can therefore argue Trump has failed to formulate sustainable policy at the southern border, especially given all the collateral damage he’s caused.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thank Trump if you think he deserves it. He certainly has revealed that many Americans want a more secure border and lower immigration and refugee quotas. No doubt his supporters give him credit for even trying. Not that he’s the first.

And conservatives claim pro-choice Democrats like Joe Biden are engaging in their own type of carnage.

But abortions are popular with both conservatives and liberals alike and in all income brackets. Blame them, not anyone else. Not Biden. Pro-choice isn’t pro-abortion. It’s about keeping women and doctors out of prison until a pro-life or other person comes up with a viable plan to reduce abortions without requiring women to give birth to their rapist’s babies or when their health is at risk.

Any pro-life plan that tries to force women to give birth under any and all circumstances is draconian and is hurting their own cause because it will automatically generate resistance from a majority of Americans. Our abortion pandemic is in equal part due to hardline pro-lifers who refuse to be reasonable.

And if Trump truly wanted to reduce abortions, why is he fighting to restrict adoptions by LGBT parents and trying to end the kind of health care for millions of Americans that might better allow them to afford to take care of children, especially those born with disabilities or other costly physical/medical challenges?

Either way, the evidence suggests Trump’s actions and immigration and other policies are too extreme and too harmful to our economy, to our people, to our neighbors, and to our Constitution.

Isn’t it time we reunite and say goodbye to Trump and his cruel, unsustainable, deceptive, and nihilistic ways? Isn’t it time we reassure our families and friends that we all will protect the Constitution even if we disagree on certain issues? Do you really believe we can endure four more years of self-inflicted torture?

It’s time to remember we are Americans and to start fixing everything Trump has broken.

Joe Biden has a better border security & immigration plan — one that doesn’t require us to suffer collateral damage, or require us to turn our southern neighbors into terror-states that hate us, or require us to be inhumane.

Take a look at Joe Biden’s immigration plan: here. It’s worth a try.

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