Demonstrating who calls the shots on the issue of immigration, by introducing an executive order to ban immigration for sixty days, has neither strengthened nor made more benign the image of President Trump, despite the fact that he says he wants to protect the jobs of his countrymen.
With so many other issues to focus on to build new foundations of credibility and confidence, with the goal of enduring together the worst pandemic in memory and in the history of epidemiology, the leader has instead returned, once again, to his eternal political workhorse: punishing immigrants, the strategy that gave him an unprecedented electoral success among the most anti-immigrant segment of U.S. society, which put him into the White House.
Suspending all permanent residency applications for two months does not only divert paperwork, but the possibility of family reunification longed for by hundreds of thousands of immigrants who have lived and worked arduously with this objective in mind. It’s true that the order excludes from its ban, among other groups, medical personnel indispensable in the fight against COVID-19, but the paradox is that they do permit applications from those who opt for residency by investing between $500,000 and $1 million, as if money made them immune to the virus. See the difference, the privilege, the preference?
We have to remember, of course, that the coronavirus was already here.
Indeed, in case nobody noticed, the president is campaigning for re-election, and he has preferred to not stray for even a second from his political agenda, sending a not very subtle message to his base that he will continue hammering the immigration issue, especially against undocumented, non-white, and poor immigrants.
It’s true that we no longer expect a discourse of kindness and commiseration with those who have been the most attacked during the last three years, but one would hope that his lowest moral standard would not descend even more, deteriorating the image of the country that was once referred to as a leader in multiple senses.
Certainly if this global health crisis, with the coronavirus infiltrating all parts of the United States, has taught us anything, it’s that the United States has dropped several places in the world’s esteem, leaving others to pass it on the right and left, up and down, without seeming to matter one bit in the project of “Trumpism.”
Because how is it possible, in this decisive moment in the history not only of the United States, but of all of humankind, that a president could be capable of thinking only about himself and his few close friends, and not the people that he claims to represent —including the immigrants, documented and undocumented, who also have worked in his businesses— who now, more than ever, require a leader who takes charge to the end of this lethal pandemic labyrinth, without diverting course or getting distracted from the fundamental work of resolving this without many more deaths to mourn?
His executive order to ban immigration —that ‘pipe dream’ that Stephen Miller and others of his ilk have wanted to make reality— is nothing more than a new ruse to distract from what is truly important in this crucial moment, as a nation and as a human species.
Indeed, medical tests are important, as are masks, gloves, food, and the work of medical personnel, cleaners, farmworkers, and grocery workers. Of all those who have demonstrated themselves to be truly essential, especially in extreme situations like this one, many are also immigrants. Dreamers, TPS beneficiaries, et cetera, who risk their lives every day with total vocation and dedication. Even still, their immigration status hangs by a wire, after so many years giving this country the best part of their lives. And all of that while the rest of the population, including anti-immigrant people, remain at home to avoid propagation of the virus.
Just when we began to believe that, now, the slogan of “E pluribus unum” (Out of many, one), of which this nation boasts so much, could begin to take shape, comes this executive order prohibiting immigration for sixty days. Was it essential, indispensable, a priority to emit an executive order on immigration in these precise moments?
At bottom, it took a diminutive and lethal virus to expose various things to sunlight, to unmask a system in which we have lived in some ways tricked or self-deluded, believing things to be essential that are not and without really considering who are indispensable at all times.
Now, with this consciousness that is beginning to form, the question is not how to take care of our health during the pandemic, but how to protect ourselves from a president like Trump in these times of coronavirus.
To read the Spanish version of this article, click here.