As published in the Immigration Daily on February 6, 2017.
As we sit at the beginning of the third week of a Donald Trump Twitter presidency, the signs are already here of a failing presidency – an embattled president, political capital fading in the outrage over early incautious policy decisions, an economic scheme promising wrack and ruin, expected mind-boggling future deficits, anticipated brain drain, loss of business, tourism, and post secondary education dollars from foreign-born due to restrictive or harsh appearing immigration policies, expected departure of large numbers of the undocumented, and a predictably future plunging stock market. The makeover of America has begun to the detriment of the country.
America as a beacon of liberty and moral referee disappeared with the January 27, 2017, Trump Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entry into the United States,” freezing refugee admissions for 120 days, barring for at least 90 days entries, visas (nonimmigrant and immigrant) along with all other immigration benefits to nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, with a further call for adding other countries onto the list that do not comply in giving information to the U. S. on their nationals. Ex-New York City mayor and Trump confidant Rudy Giuliani admitted on Fox news that the Executive Order was a backdoor Muslim ban. Most analysts have agreed that the ban is superfluous as the U. S. has not been attacked by refugees from any of the 7 listed countries and counterproductive as dangerous for American armed forces, especially in Iraq, as it fits the ISIS narrative that the U. S. cannot be trusted and discourages assistance and cooperation from Iraqis and others.
The stock market is set to plunge drastically as soon as investors begin to feel the consequences of Mr. Trump’s present and anticipated actions. The market has been up since the election with investors banking on less regulation on companies releasing growth, repatriation of large profits that U. S. companies such as GE, Microsoft and Pfizer have kept abroad to escape taxes, the unlocking of huge infrastructure projects and deals, and reduction of waste in Washington. Unfortunately a large decline in the market is coming as the Trump administration has shown its hand in a spending wish list on defense, restrictive immigration measures, infrastructure, etc. while preparing to propose reductions in taxes to the wealthy, corporations and estates, and ignite trade wars around the globe. The Republicans are also hard-pressed to replace Obamacare and fulfill Mr. Trump’s recent pledge that his substitute for the Affordable Care Act would insure more people at lower cost. His recent actions in approving a botched SEAL team raid in Yemen, threatening Iran over its recent missile test, and reportedly giving Syrian rebels heavier weaponry foreshadow more use of military might and the nation’s money than in the Obama years. In the same way that all other administrations have learned that the people of the nation cannot have huge spending and large tax cuts at the same time, the Trump administration will soon realize along with the rest of the country that the promises on spending and cutting taxes cannot be fulfilled without ruinously running the Treasury printing presses and releasing the twin specters of rampant inflation and gargantuan budget deficits.
Multiple studies have shown that the undocumented bring a net benefit to the country and yet Mr. Trump believes that it would be a triumph to drive them all out. If large numbers left or were driven from the U. S., the economy would tank as there would be no Americans willing to take on many of their jobs even at higher wages, the U. S. population would grow older immediately, large swaths of U. S. cities would begin to look like Detroit with abandoned houses pock-marking the landscape, municipalities would experience declining revenues and shrinking tax bases, and there would be many less people to stimulate the economy in all areas as the young and middle-aged and not the elderly are the population groups that drive spending. That is the reason why an audience between ages 18-49 is the most sought after for TV networks and the Nielsens. Statistically as of 2012, 95.5% of the 11,000,000+ undocumented immigrants living in the U. S. were under 55 years of age with the vast majority (85.9%) between 18-54 years, prime ages for establishing families and purchasing cars, homes, and all the other accouterments of living. Besides them, in 2014 there were 6.6 million U. S. citizens living in households with undocumented immigrants, of which 5.7 million were under age 18 and 865,000 were age 18 and over. Deporting or terrifying millions of this population to leave the country would leave a huge vacuum for goods and services nationwide. A 2016 study on the economic impacts of removing unauthorized immigrant workers found that a policy of mass deportation would immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4 percent and ultimately by 2.6 percent, and reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion (Ryan Edwards and Francesc Ortega, “The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers,” Center for American Progress, 9/21/16, https://www.americanprogress.org/iss…grant-workers/.)
Mr. Trump has already started down this road by prioritizing enforcement against most undocumented immigrants in his January 25, 2017, Executive Order “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” since illegal entry is a crime under INA §275(a) and the order targets anyone who has been convicted of “any” criminal offense, been charged with “any” criminal offense where the charge is not been resolved, or committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense. In terminating the Obama administration’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) and reinstating the Secure Communities Program, it appears that we are back to a time in which the original intent of Secure Communities to protect communities from violent criminals had been statistically shown to be secondary to the detention and deportation of aliens, many of whom were caught for minor misdemeanors or civil offenses. The Executive Order’s use of the word “any” is unambiguous, and the targeting will mean immigration holds and detainers by ICE. Whether coincidentally or not, the chief immigration judge of the Executive Office for Immigration Review on January 31, 2017, changed the order of priorities for rushing cases through the system and placed “all detained individuals” as the topmost priority of the immigration courts.
This is indeed the beginning of a sad time for America. Undoubtedly the involved local law and immigration enforcement agencies and immigration courts will struggle initially to make sense of Mr. Trump’s actions which will certainly test the humanitarian instincts of many, but once the dust settles, we will unfortunately be looking at a much meaner America, and for most, a much poorer one.