As usual when it comes to immigration, the Trump administration’s lies, incompetence, cruelty and hypocrisy are caught in a vicious cycle of circular logic and cynicism that needs to be unpacked.
Take their focus on the border and the families and young people fleeing violence and instability in Central America:
1. Trump’s policies have failed to deter asylum seekers and have worsened the humanitarian crisis of Central Americans fleeing violence and instability. We need a multi-dimensional strategy to address the challenges of regional violence and instability in Central America, including those directly addressing root causes. Yet the Trump Administration has pulled back from policies that help reduce and manage the flow of asylum seekers and address root causes — reducing aid to Central America by 40%; ending the Central American Minors (CAM) that enabled young people with strong claims for refugee status to apply in their home countries; and dismantling regional refugee reception and processing centers that had operated in conjunction with the UNHCR.
Meanwhile, the thrust of the Trump policy vision has been cruelty and blunt enforcement-only approaches designed to deter asylum-seekers — from the family separation and “zero tolerance” catastrophes to current policies like “border metering” and “return to Mexico” that are now driving asylum-seekers away from secure ports of entry and towards more and more remote and dangerous parts of the U.S. border. These efforts have and will continued to fail to address the humanitarian crisis and are a misallocation of resources.
2. Fear, chaos and crisis are the main messages for Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign so Trump is whipping up fears and using failed policies and manufactured crises to justify his emergency declaration power grab. The Trump team continues to encourage hysteria around the border and asylum-seekers, from the pre-2018 election fear-mongering about migrant caravans to the renewed focus on the supposed “crisis” of asylum-seeking families at the border. The common denominator is to justify draconian policies and position the President as the only one who can protect the U.S. The administration is now playing fast and loose with statistics, blurring distinctions between those legally seeking asylum and border apprehensions of unauthorized migrants, while failing to acknowledge that their own policies have contributed to the humanitarian crisis of families traveling to our border. Facing a potentially embarrassing rebuke in the Senate, all of this latest hype is being deployed in order to justify that there’s a crisis that requires the unconstitutional and unpopular emergency declaration power grab. It’s the height of circular logic and cynicism, and it shouldn’t convince anyone.
3. As Trump rails against immigrants, more evidence is coming to light that Trump businesses relied on and discarded undocumented workers. A new Washington Post story on Juan Quintero, an undocumented worker and caretaker of a Trump family hunting retreat and golf club, is the latest in a string of revelations showing that the Trump family and businesses relied on undocumented workers to build and staff their businesses. The pattern shows a multi-state criminal conspiracy of an unscrupulous employer as well as overwhelming hypocrisy. Hiring, falsely documenting, exploiting and recruiting unauthorized workers was not an accident for the Trump Organization. It was part of their business model.
4. As Trump continues his attacks on immigrants, his Department of Homeland Security is targeting reporters and activists. Trump spent Saturday delivering a speech at CPAC that was replete with racist screeds. Meanwhile, this week, The Nation reported that “ICE Has Kept Tabs on ‘Anti-Trump’ Protesters in New York City,” including Congressman Adriano Espaillat, among the first formerly-undocumented immigrants to serve in the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, NBC San Diego reports that leaked documents show ICE and CBP were tracking journalists and immigration advocates through a secret database. So much for free speech and democracy. Trump is using government resources to track and harass his political opponents.
According to Doug Rivlin, Communications Director for America’s Voice, “Fear of immigrants and families seeking asylum are the foundations of Trump’s reelection strategy. He labels a controversy as a crisis, implements policies that make the crisis much worse, and then tells his ardent supporters that he alone can protect them. Throw in the lies from Trump and his subordinates, their refusal to accept responsibility for policies that put children and infants in custody, their separation of children from parents with no plan to reunite them, and you have a reelection bid based on cynical and sinister building blocks. Chaos, hypocrisy and pain at the expense of immigrants and their families are not incidental to the Trump political strategy; they are the Trump political strategy.”