tags: , , , AVEF, Press Releases

The Cruelty, Incompetence and Cynicism of Trump’s Border Strategy

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“Like just about everything else in Donald Trump’s career, his immigration strategy is a bankrupt mess”

As President Trump tries to whip up a frenzy over border security, immigration and asylum policy, here are three key points to keep in mind:

  1. Trump and the GOP own this problem, and they have failed. Trump and Republicans are in charge of Washington. They command the White House, the Congress and the Supreme Court. It is sad and silly for them to blame Democrats for their failed response to the challenge of how to respond to the increased flow of people fleeing Central America. Has the Republican-controlled House passed immigration legislation? They tried and failed, due to divisions within the Republican Party. Has the Republican-controlled Senate passed any immigration legislation? They tried and failed, due to opposition from the White House. Has the Republican-controlled Congress appropriated funds for Trump’s stupid border wall? No, because there is not enough support for such a wasteful vanity project. They have failed, they are ducking responsibility and they are blaming others for their own incompetence.
  2. Their policy approach is cruel, ineffective and chaotic. Instead of advancing real solutions or acting responsibly, the Trump/GOP approach: 1) aims to separate families with breathtaking cruelty; 2) guts asylum rules and denies access to a fair process on refugee claims that can amount to life-and-death decisions; and 3) pretends that the challenge starts at the border and therefore the only way to respond is with a heavy-handed border crackdown. A responsible, humane and effective approach would focus on slowing out-migration from Central America by working with governments and civil society to give vulnerable residents a reason to stay home. It would be augmented by a multilateral approach to protecting, screening and resettling refugees. Unfortunately, the simple-minded tough guys on the Trump team aren’t interested in a responsible, humane and effective approach. (see here for Frank Sharry’s assessment of what a smarter policy approach would look like).
  3. Not only are Trump and company cruel, they are politically desperate and transparently cynical.  President Trump and Republicans are exploiting the migrant caravan and the border story to divide Americans, dehumanize immigrants and define Democrats. They know that to win elections they have to distract voters from their terrible record on key issues: wages; healthcare; education; retirement security; gun violence; the environment; equality, and the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities, including immigrants and refugees. So they stoke fear, point fingers and scapegoat “the other.” The strategic calculation seems to be: if they can’t run on your record, then run on racism.

The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

Like just about everything else in Donald Trump’s career, his immigration strategy is a bankrupt mess. He doesn’t get it. He thinks migration from Central America is a problem that starts and ends at the U.S.-Mexico border. He thinks immigrants are a threat, when immigrants are central to the American experiment. He thinks bluster is a strategy.

He is failing miserably. And because he doesn’t admit failure, he blames others: it’s the fault of his staff; it’s the fault of the Democrats; it’s the fault of Mexico and the governments in Central America. This would be unacceptable behavior coming from our children. We cannot normalize this behavior coming from our President.

To add insult to injury, Trump combines cruel policy with cynical politics. He thinks that by making immigration the main issue in the runup to the midterms, it will help Republicans hang onto power. What he doesn’t understand is that the country is bigger than his base. The minority that loves his race-baiting tough talk is about to meet a majority that is disgusted with it. He may get his rally-goers to cheer his cruelty but progressives, moderates, independents and reluctant Republicans are listening, too.

Come Election Day we will learn if Trump’s reliance on xenophobia and distraction worked for him or against him. We know who we are betting on: the majority of Americans who embrace immigrants, reject Trump’s polarizing ugliness, and want leaders who bring us together across racial difference to solve problems, not exploit them.