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As President Trump stokes fears and tries to whip up a frenzy over border security, immigration and a caravan of Central Americans seeking safety and opportunity, here is our take:
Trump’s frenzy over the issue is ugly, cynical and primarily motivated by his desire to hang onto unchecked political power. Yes, he wants to spur turnout by his base, but more importantly, he wants to block out the focus on the issue that matters the most to voters — healthcare. He knows that if voters focus on what they want, it’s not even close. Of course, we’ve seen homestretch fear-mongering over immigrants before. In Virginia’s 2017 governors race, Republican Ed Gillespie stoked fear of immigrants as his closing argument, and ended up losing by 9 percentage points. But that isn’t stopping Trump and the GOP from going back to the well.
For more, read Michael Tomasky’s latest column, “Trump’s Closing Argument: The Brown People Are Coming!” and Kerry Eleveld’s assessment, “Reeling on Health Care, Republicans Double Down on Anti-immigrant Racism.”
Republicans control the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. Yet, Trump is blaming Democrats for the Republican failure to deal with this challenge in an intelligent and serious manner. In fact, over the past two years, Trump and his immigration advisor Stephen Miller made sure to blow up every serious effort to enact bipartisan immigration legislation. Instead, the centerpiece of Trump’s border policy has been to rip thousands of toddlers from their parents — a practice both immoral and ineffective. Now the Trump administration is gearing up to restart this dehumanizing and cruel policy.
For more, read a strong Washington Post editorial condemning the proposed restarting of family separations here.
A responsible, humane and effective approach to the multi-dimensional challenge of migration from Central America would do the following: 1) slow the out-migration from Central America by working with governments and civil society to give vulnerable residents a reason to stay home; 2) initiate a multilateral approach to protecting, screening and resettling refugees, including working with the UNHCR; and 3) state clearly that it is a strength when America stands as a beacon of hope and a country that recognizes the humanity of vulnerable people fleeing violence. Trump and his team done have done just opposite: 1) ending policies such as the Obama Administration’s push to facilitate refugee applications from within countries of origin; 2) alienating and bullying regional allies while ignoring the UNHCR; and 3) separating families with breathless cruelty and no plans for reunification and gutting asylum rules and deny access to a fair process on what amounts to life-or-death refugee claims.
The following is a statement from Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
Harry Truman famously said ‘the buck stops here.’ Trump tweets, blusters and blames. FDR said the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Trump says the main thing we have to fear are refugees. JFK called America a nation of immigrants. Trump calls on America to hate immigrants.
With respect to the policy challenge before us now, 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 bluster is a strategy. And he is failing miserably.
Of course, like everything with Trump, this is about politics. He’s cynically exploiting the caravan in hopes of whipping up fears over immigrants to distract voters from the GOP’s real record on healthcare.
The majority of Americans embrace immigrants and want leaders to bring us together and solve problems, rather than blame others. The majority of Americans dislike the divisiveness Trump relishes. Election Day is an opportunity for that majority to be heard.