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Frank Sharry: “Trump is attempting to mainstream a vision of America that we all must reject”
In Tuesday night’s Republican debate, Donald Trump stated that he would model his mass-deportation plan after one of the darkest moments in modern American history – President Eisenhower’s 1954 round-up and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of immigrants to Mexico, an event known by the offensive name of “Operation Wetback.” Yesterday, Trump added another disturbing detail to his vision, telling MSNBC that he would rely on a “Deportation Force” to implement his mass-deportation plan.
This is no longer a policy discussion. This is about ripping apart families, communities and the values we as a nation hold dear. The outcry against Trump’s radical mass-deportation vision and his “Deportation Force” should transcend the usual ideological and political divides.
In fact, in recent months leading conservative voices have provided some of the best encapsulations of why Trump’s immigration vision has such dangerous implications for the nation:
Michael Gerson in the 8/20/15 Washington Post: “Conservatives Should Stay Far Away From Trump’s Ethnic Polarization”:
“It is all fun and games until the mass roundups begin …
This is jarring, or should be … There is a difference between striking a populist chord and feeding cultural resentment with racial overtones.
Conservatives who support restrictionist immigration policies, above all, should distance themselves from Trump’s ethnic polarization. He has become the discrediting stereotype of their views, using rhetoric and arguments more suitable to European right-wing populists. Ethno-nationalist. Conspiracy-minded. All our humiliating national failures result from treacherous foreigners or a stab in the back by our own weak and corrupt leaders.”
George Will in his 8/21/15 Washington Post syndicated column: “Trump’s Immigration Plan Could Spell Doom for the GOP”:
“Today’s big government finds running Amtrak too large a challenge, and Trump’s roundup would be about 94 times larger than the wartime internment of 117,000 persons of Japanese descent. But Trump wants America to think big. The big costs, in decades and dollars (hundreds of billions), of Trump’s project could be reduced if, say, the targets were required to sew yellow patches on their clothing to advertise their coming expulsion. There is precedent.”
Ben Domenech in 8/21/15 issue of The Federalist “Are Republicans For Freedom Or White Identity Politics?”:
“The phenomenon is real, and the danger Trump presents for the Republican Party is real. Even without winning the GOP nomination, which is still a remote possibility at best, his statements have tapped into a widespread anger that has the potential to transform the Republican Party in significant ways. Ultimately, Trump presents a choice for the Republican Party about which path to follow: a path toward a coalition that is broad, classically liberal, and consistent with the party’s history, or a path toward a coalition that is reduced to the narrow interests of identity politics for white people.”
Charles Krauthammer in his 8/20/15 syndicated column: “The Immigration Swamp”:
“This would all be merely ridiculous if it weren’t morally obscene. Forcibly evict 11 million people from their homes? It can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen. And, of course, it won’t ever happen. But because it’s the view of the Republican front-runner, every other candidate is now required to react. So instead of debating border security, guest-worker programs and sanctuary cities — where Republicans are on firm moral and political ground — they are forced into a debate about a repulsive fantasy … At its best, these frustrations would be articulated by the Republican Party in ways that lead to more freedom and less government. At its worst, these frustrations cast aside Constitutional principles, encourage dictatorial behavior, and become the toxic political equivalent of the two Southie brothers who claimed Trump inspired them to beat up a Hispanic homeless man.”
The condemnation of Trump’s latest comments have also started to arrive, with leading commentators noting that “Operation Wetback” is a moment in American history that should be avoided, not modeled.
We were particularly struck by Michael Tomasky’s column in The Daily Beast: “Trump’s ‘Operation Wetback’ Delusion” (excerpted below):
“I don’t know about you, but I think it says something interesting that in the eight presidential campaigns I’ve covered and written about, this is the first time I’ve seen the need to weave The Daily Stormer into my normal news diet. But how could one not, with Donald Trump still walking among us? The neo-Nazi Stormer has loved The Donald ever since the famous Mexican rapists speech, so when Trump invoked Dwight Eisenhower last night as the last president who understood how to get those people out of the country, I knew immediately which trusted news source I wanted to go to first.
…By now, you’ve read all about how Trump was referring, albeit not by name, to Operation Wetback, the program undertaken by the Eisenhower administration in conjunction with the Mexican government to send workers who’d come to America illegally back to the home country. Mexico wanted them back because it was then an under-industrialized country that needed all of its able-bodied men … The long and short of it was that we quite simply rounded people up and sent them back at gunpoint. It was ugly business. In the summer of 1955, hundreds of Mexicans we’d sent back got left in the high desert to die.
…But the main point isn’t even that we wouldn’t do it today. The main point is that we couldn’t even if we had a president who wanted to … Today, undocumented immigrants are every kind of person, and they live everywhere … The average time living in the United States among the 11.3 or so million here without papers, says Sharry, is 13 years. They’ve put down roots. One third are homeowners! They’re fathers, mothers, grandparents. And many or even most families involved here are what they call ‘mixed status’: maybe the husband has a green card, the wife doesn’t, two kids came over the border with them, but two other kids were born here and are citizens. What do you do with these people? The United States of America is going to start breaking up loving families? What do I mean, start? We’ve done it. It wasn’t one of our more glorious chapters. It was called slavery.
It’s a practical impossibility. And that’s to say nothing of the mountains of lawsuits that would quickly pile up. Oh, and also public opinion, which strongly supports legalization over deportation. Sharry says the ratio is about four-to-one among the general public, but that even among Republicans, it’s 60 percent for legalization, 20 percent who would prefer deportation but don’t think it’s practical, and the remaining 20 percent who are over in the Trump-Stormer corner.
No, Donald, most Americans want something very simple and straightforward. It’s called immigration reform. With a path to citizenship for people who follow the new rules. That’s what America wants, but that’s what America cannot get, because of the yahoo right wing and because of cowards and milksops like Marco Rubio, who are even worse. At least the yahoos are straightforward in their stupidity and hatred. Rubio, who first tried to ride immigration reform to the White House and is now trying to ride opposition to same to the identical destination, should be made to answer for it. On this, at least, the Stormer correspondent and I agree.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “Trump’s radical and dangerous mass deportation plan, a discredited idea once consigned to the sewers of the far-right, is back on the table. Each new chilling detail, such as his idea of a ‘Deportation Force,’ should bring home the fact that Trump is attempting to mainstream a vision of America that we all must reject.”