That it was known to be coming, President Donald Trump’s immigration overhaul was shocking on its arrival Wednesday.
It follows Trump’s anti-immigrant campaign theme appealing to the worst instincts of the most extreme factions of his base, and amounts to a cold, hard slap at the Statue of Liberty and her vow to welcome all “yearning to breathe free.”
The president is assisted in this despicable venture by two southern senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia.
Trump could care less about immigration policy, about which he shows little understanding. But in his campaign he bellowed in one sympathetic region of the country after another, to put “America first,” which was not very subtle code for driving out those of different backgrounds and colors.
Under this pathetic excuse for reform, who could be sponsored for immigration to immediate family members would be limited and it would kill a visa lottery program and put a cap on refugees who could obtain permanent resident status at 50,000.
Trump’s pandering Wednesday was utterly shameless. In touting his plan, he said, “This legislation will not only restore our competitive edge in the 21st century, but it will restore the sacred bonds of trust between American and its citizens. This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families who deserve an immigration system that puts their needs first and puts America first.”
Cue the cheers, right, Mr. President? Tug down that “Make America Great Again” cap.
With these limits, Trump would destroy networks of extended immigrant families, families with people who have been working hard in America. He would, in fact, repudiate the principle of open doors (with reasonable laws attached) that helped make America ... America.
The United States often is called a “nation of immigrants,” because that’s what it is. As for Trump’s contention that his plan is somehow going to restore jobs to Americans only, that’s about as credible as going to West Virginia and boasting he’d bring back coal mining jobs. Immigrants do thousands of jobs Americans do not want to do — they make low wages and, for those who are here illegally, find themselves often exploited with poor working and living conditions.
And they are used by some American employers because those employers don’t want to pay a minimum wage to American citizens.
Does the United States need changes in its immigration system? Absolutely. But it should take the form of finding ways to allow those from other countries to work here and live here and pay taxes and thus contribute to the economy in the light of day, not in the shadows. Should the U.S. tolerate habitual unlawful behavior or gangs or drug dealers? Of course not. But the attempts on the part of Trump and some of his supporters to portray immigrants as mere troublemakers during the campaign were preposterous.
Trump likely would be happy to make his announcement, do his boasting about getting tough and take off for one of his golf clubs. He cares little whether anything is actually done, as he is much like an actor who films a scene and adjourns to his dressing room at the signal of “Cut!”
This proposal is clumsy, close-minded, potentially harmful to families and a repudiation of long-held American values, values that speak to the value of all people.