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“He’s One of Them”: Trump’s America on Full Display in Charlottesville

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Are Dream Kids Next on His Hit List to Make America White Again?

Washington, DC – Following this weekend’s horrors in Charlottesville, and President Trump’s moral failure to condemn the white nationalist terror attack, a number of observers are pointing out that white nationalism is not a bug, but a feature, of this President and his Administration.

  • Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo notes, “Those were Trump’s supporters. He recognizes them a supporters, indeed as part of his movement. And he supports them. This is probably largely instinctive on Trump’s part … He’s one of them. Let’s stop pretending.”
  • Brian Beutler of The New Republic captures: “Trump and many of his closest advisers aren’t making common cause with vile racists for political advantage. They are the vile racists, and are supporting fellow racists at substantial political risk because they want the racist vision to prevail … The killing in Charlottesville wasn’t an unintended consequence of allowing white supremacists to coexist with others in the conservative coalition. It was the realization of concerted efforts to make their vision of politics a dominant strand within the party.”
  • New York Times columnist Paul Krugman says of President Trump, “Charlottesville finally confirms what has become increasingly obvious: The current president of the United States isn’t a real American. Real Americans understand that our nation is built around values, not the ‘blood and soil’ of the marchers’ chants; what makes you an American is your attempt to live up to those values, not the place or race your ancestors came from.”

For many of us, Trump’s racism and embrace of white supremacy is no surprise and nothing new. We remember well how Trump launched his presidential campaign. He called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and “criminals.” Or, once in office, how Trump has fulfilled the wish list of the white nationalist and anti-immigrant movements by advancing an unprecedented push to drive millions of settled immigrants out of America. Remember all that talk of pivoting and maturing? We never bought it.

Now look. His immigration and refugee policies since being in office are united by a consistent theme: they aim to keep out and kick out people of color. Here is a summary of just some of what he and his team have begun:

  • The evisceration of any priorities in enforcement, leaving all 11 million undocumented immigrants exposed to deportation;
  • The elimination of prosecutorial discretion in all but a handful of cases, meaning that those with strong equities and deep ties are being deported without any sort of balancing test being applied, as had been the practice in the last two Administrations;
  • Loud raids followed by press releases listing a few criminal offenses, and “silent raids” at ICE Offices in which people who have received prosecutorial discretion in the past because of their equities are swept up and quickly deported away from homes, families and jobs;
  • DHS press releases following raids that trumpet those picked up with criminal convictions, and bury the fact that many or most of those arrested are “collaterals” – meaning they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time;
  • A concerted campaign from the Attorney General to intimidate and bully local jurisdictions into colluding with deportation agents, despite opposition from local law enforcement who know that when cops appear to be an extension of the federal deportation machinery, immigrants fear that reporting crimes and serving as witnesses might lead to their families being ripped apart by deportation;
  • A push for dramatically increased DHS funding, not only for a needless and costly border wall, but for a rapid expansion of deportation agents, detention centers, and detention beds – all at a time when border crossings continue to decline;
  • Strategies designed to keep Central American asylum-seekers from seeking safety in America, from threatening to take minor children away from mothers, to denying new arrivals the chance to apply for asylum, to home raids targeting Central American young people and the family members who took them in;
  • Threatening over 300,000 beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS), from Haiti, El Salvador, Honduras and more, with the revocation of deportation relief and work permits, exposing them to deportation;
  • Threatening nearly 800,000 Dreamers who have benefited from DACA with the revocation of deportation relief and work permits, exposing them to deportation;

This is not a sideshow, it’s the main show. For example, as part of its response to Charlottesville, Indivisible is encouraging constituents to take action, with the preponderance of the asks focusing on immigration. There should be no mistaking that these immigration policy battles are a central part of a larger fight over the direction and vision of America.

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund, “Trump’s approach to immigration and refugee policy can be summed up as follows: ban Muslims, stop refugees, deport Latinos, block Asians, and admit whites. Yet too many in the punditry attribute Trump’s dalliance with racists as a cynical political stunt to shore up an energized base. This weekend Trump revealed, once again, the sad truth we have always known: the man behind the curtain is a despicable bigot and dangerous racist. He’s not controlled by Bannon and Miller and Sessions. No one has to tell Donald Trump to act that way. It comes naturally. We hope that Trump will feel enough heat to start moving in a different direction. His comments this afternoon were too little and too late. He has to act. Protecting Dreamers and those with TPS would be a good place to start.”

Follow Frank Sharry and America’s Voice Education Fund on Twitter: @FrankSharry and @AmericasVoice

America’s Voice Education Fund – Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform