It’s old news by now, but this past week the President once again grabbed headlines when the Washington Post reported that, in an Oval Office meeting, Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as “shitholes.” The President made the comments during a bi-partisan meeting with congressional leaders where the fate of DACA recipients was being discussed. According to sources, the President asked why the United States is letting in immigrants from these countries rather than from more desirable places like Norway. Trump has since denied the comments via his favorite medium, Twitter, but does anyone really doubt that he said these things? Of course not but, frankly, I’m shocked that anyone was surprised he made these remarks in the first place. Let’s be clear, Trump isn’t saying anything that he didn’t repeatedly say on the campaign trail. The President made it clear he intended to deport everyone who did not have the explicit legal right to be in the United States, and that is precisely what his administration is trying to do. He also said he wanted to dramatically decrease the number of legal immigrants from certain countries – “shithole” countries, I would presume. I’m shocked anyone was surprised.
I’ve said it many times, elections have consequences, and for better or worse we will be living with those consequences for a few more years. As for DACA, even though roughly 75% of all Americans support a permanent solution to keep Dreamers in the country, the Trump Administration risks very little for taking a hardline stance. Conversely, the administration potentially looks soft to its base if it compromises.
Here’s the painful truth, Trump is winning the battle on immigration. He has the law on his side, illegal immigration is down, and his opponents who have fumbled the ball on this issue many times, are playing his game. For my friends who long for President Obama, yes, he gave us the executive order that provided temporary status for Dreamers (DACA), but it’s time to face up to the fact that his administration had the chance, and the votes to fix this problem once and for all, but simply did not view it as a priority. Make no mistake, there are no compromises on immigration policy coming from the Trump Administration. Any short-term victories for DACA recipients or the other 11 million immigrants without status will likely come through a miracle deal from Congress, or by lawsuits filed by the ACLU or MALDEF that hopefully kick the legal-can down the road far enough to get beyond this administration.
They say that most people vote on only one issue. If immigration is your issue, then what you need to do is rally votes and raise money for candidates who will support your position on immigration – and don’t assume all Democrats are on your side. In fact, if you want real change in Washington D.C., you may have to start by replacing some Democrats.
Take note of this: The faction of the Republican Party known as the “Freedom Caucus” was dissatisfied with the GOP status quo, and ran candidates against incumbents in their own party that did not support their far-right platform. It sounded crazy at the time, but it worked, and that’s how we got a president named Donald Trump – and believe me, he knows it. The Freedom Caucus, formerly known as the Tea Party, is pretty clear on their principles and directs most of their venom toward members of their own party who fall out of line. The President may have an aversion to the truth, but in the case of immigration policy, he is giving his core supporters in the Freedom Caucus essentially what he promised.
The lesson for immigration advocates to understand is that the only way to win is by creating partnerships, raising a boatload of money, and using it to defeat Democrats who aren’t 100% on board with immigration reform. Additionally, be willing to support Republican candidates who are enlightened on the issue. Trust me, things will start happening from there.
Deporting Dreamers and other immigrants is unrealistic on multiple levels and would kneecap our economy. These people are core to our workforce and are drivers of economic growth. History will be kind to advocates and elected officials who push through the legislation that solves our immigration problem and provides dignity and permanent status to the 11 million people who are working hard and living in the shadows. However, it won’t happen without a bloody fight.