Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Uglier and Uglier
The Trump phenomenon might have seemed amusing at first, but it's no joke now. Here's Ezra Klein on the only detailed policy proposal the blowhard possessor of inherited wealth has produced so far. In essence, it views illegal immigration as a collective crime of the Mexican people, and proposes to collect money from legal Mexican migrants and people who cross the border for legitimate reasons; and from people who send remittances to their families, in order to build his wall along the border. He also would withhold federal benefits (I'm guessing this means the earned income tax credit and dependent deductions, though Klein doesn't specify) from the undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens, in order to drive them out of the country. And he would implement various measures that would make it nearly impossible for people to gain asylum or refugee status.
Most undocumented immigrants, in fact, do not cross the border illegally. Rather, they overstay visas. And of course only half of them are from Mexico, and that number is declining. So singling out Mexico and Mexicans is obviously racist -- and it's worse than that since Trump insists that the Mexican government is somehow intentionally "sending" people, and selecting criminals, which is idiotic.
Trump also wants to eliminate birthright citizenship. This was originally established by the 14th Amendment for the benefit of freed slaves, but it is essential in the present context as well to prevent the creation of a subordinate caste. Look at the Dominican Republic, where Haitians who may be second or third generation residents are now threatened with deportation, and have never gained citizenship. Stateless populations of this kind also exist in many other countries, notably in the Middle East and Africa. Do we really want this here?
But we all know that Trump is a psychopath. What is terrifying about this is that it has only increased his popularity, and that other Republican candidates are lining up to endorse these proposals. It's a very sorry reflection on our culture and values. I have led a sheltered life with limited exposure to the racism at the dark heart of the United States. But that's what we are.