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Why We Cannot Afford to Normalize Donald Trump and His Mass Deportation Vision

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During her speech at the SEIU convention yesterday, Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton focused needed attention on presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s mass deportation vision for America. Clinton said, “He’s talking about sending a deportation force to schools, workplaces and homes to round up moms, dads, grandparents, even children. When he talks about ending birthright citizenship, he’s talking about kicking children who are born here out of the only country they know,” and asked, “What kind of country would we be if we let Donald Trump rip our families apart?”

While Secretary Clinton’s focus generated a round of news coverage, there are worries nonetheless that Trump’s immigration vision is becoming mainstreamed, explained away, and normalized. In a segment titled, “How Not to Normalize Trump,” Bob Garfield, co-host of WNYC/NPR’s “On the Media,” accused the media of being complicit in mainstreaming aspects of Trump’s ugly vision for America:

“The man is a menace of historic proportions, so who the Chuck Todd cares about his tax proposals? It’s like asking Charles Manson about his driving record. But here comes the political press, going into standard general election mode and treating a demagogue as a legitimate standard bearer, as if the only thing he has to answer for is the latest blip in the news cycle.

… With every oh, so decorous question about tax policy or the national debt, the media are not simply abetting him but normalizing him, in effect, accepting his grotesque path to the nomination. Look, by its nature, journalism subordinates old news to the latest development. But, in this case, being slave to the fresh angle is simple malpractice because every moment spent on Trump policy and process buries the lead. The lead is that a man who wants to build a wall, who wants to ban Muslims, who sees women only as potential vessels for his – ‘no problem there, I assure you’ – could be the president of the United States. It was the lead in July. It is the lead now. It will be the lead in November. Every interview with Donald Trump, every single one should hold him accountable for bigotry, incitement, juvenile conduct and blithe contempt for the Constitution. The voters will do what the voters will do, but it must not be, cannot be because the press did not do enough.”

So here’s a reminder of what Trump is proposing on immigration and why it matters.

Trump is proposing to remove every undocumented immigrant and millions of American citizen children within the first two years of his administration through a Deportation Force. This dystopic vision would result in: immigration agents roaming Latino neighborhoods; a massive increase in the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants; U.S citizen kids having their citizenship and passports revoked; weeping families being ripped apart; immigrant workers being pushed out of jobs and into a burgeoning informal sector of exploited labor; a massive wave of resistance and conflict throughout America; and allies around the world denouncing America for human rights abuses.

In addition to the profound moral consequences of implementing mass deportation, the center-right American Action Forum recently released a study outlining the staggering economic consequences of Trump’s mass deportation vision, finding that “[Implementing mass deportation would] reduce real private sector output by 2.9 percent to 4.7 percent or $381.5 billion to $623.2 billion.” And last week, the New York Times analyzed the practical implications of Trump’s proposals, confirming that Trump’s immigration policies are not only inhumane, but would be prohibitively expensive and next-to-impossible to implement.

And beyond its staggering moral and economic costs, mass deportation as a concept is pulled from the fringes of the anti-immigrant and white nationalist movements – which have adopted Trump wholeheartedly. As Peter Montgomery of the People for the American Way recently told the Wall Street Journal, “White supremacists and white nationalists have been marginalized in our political discourse, but Trump’s campaign is bringing them out of the woodwork and making it easier for them say certain things.”

And today, Talking Points Memo adds more disturbing details of how Trump’s immigration vision is mainstreaming white nationalist hate. TPM’s Allegra Kirkland reports on last weekend’s gathering of the white nationalist American Renaissance conference:

“Tucked away in the woods of middle Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park, 300 ‘white advocates’ gathered over the weekend at the fourteenth American Renaissance conference to reflect on just how much fuel Trump has added to their movement this election cycle.

‘I’ve never felt this sense of energy in our movement,’ the conference host, Jared Taylor, said in his opening remarks. ‘I’ve never been more optimistic.’

For the conference, American Renaissance, a white nationalist publication, brought advocates for a white ethno-state together with Holocaust deniers, eugenicists and confederate sympathizers. American Renaissance and many of the groups the conference speakers are associated with are designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to Taylor, this year’s conference saw a 100-person jump in attendance from 2015; a show of hands identified half of the participants as first-time attendees and one-third as under the age of 30.

…Still, the white nationalist movement sees coverage of Trump’s anti-immigration policies as key to spreading their ideals.

…[former Trump campaign delegate William] Johnson believes Trump should simply override the judicial and legislative branches to make whatever immigration reforms he chooses.

‘You could have a Trump do what Andrew Jackson did when he defied the U.S. Supreme Court and had the Trail of Tears,’ Johnson said, pointing out that the president ‘controls the armies.’

‘It might be violating the procedures we’ve used for 100-some years but it’s not unconstitutional,’ he continued. ‘I think we need to have some strong executive decisions because America has disintegrated so much that something dramatic needs to be done.’”