The reviews are in and the reviews are harsh for President Trump’s State of the Union address – particularly the predictable disconnect between the White House’s pre-speech spin that it would be a unifying speech and the speech’s actual same old ugly and unpersuasive anti-immigrant focus (a “Stephen Miller special” as America’s Voice Deputy Director Pili Tobar phrased it last night)..
Dial-testing during the speech from Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg details Trump’s problem: Trump’s fear-mongering about the manufactured crisis along the border and the rehashed threat of “large organized caravans” didn’t connect with listeners. This section of his speech drove sharply negative reactions among black, Latino, and younger white listeners and fell flat with working class listeners as well. The public has heard it all before and, outside of the narrow band of talk-show hosts and Stephen Miller acolytes, Americans have sided against xenophobia, against the stupid wall, against the emergency declaration, and against Trump’s portrayal of immigrants as murderers, threats and the source of all of the country’s ills (see poll after poll for a detailed reminder that the more Trump talks about immigration, the less Americans trust him or his anti-immigrant worldview ).
Rather than the predictable Trump/Miller anti-immigrant rant, the more significant story about the State of the Union and immigrants may be the continued courage and coverage of Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, former undocumented employees of Trump’s golf courses, who attended the State of the Union as guests of Democratic House Members (see a detailed interview and recap of their story here). As even conservative commentator Rick Santorum said as part of a CNN roundtable last night, the workers’ stories and the Trump hiring practices are becoming a major “political problem” and represent a “black eye for the President.”
Victorina and Sandra offer a stark reminder of the hypocrisy of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stance and a reminder that the Trump Organization is a multi-state criminal enterprise that systematically and criminally exploits undocumented immigrant workers at their properties and it has been going on for decades. They also embody the real story about immigrants in America – one of contributions and hard work instead of the Trump/Miller portrayal.