As published in the Immigration Daily on March 2, 2017.
You cannot continually demonize undocumented immigrants and then turn around to legalize them. The math does not compute. Even as Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama attempted legalization, they constantly praised the virtues of the undocumented. Both presidents were frustrated by the intractability of the Republican Party. Now it is the Republican Party on steroids owning both houses of Congress and President Trump’s own rabid backers poised to stop any mass legalization program. The President’s musings at the luncheon with television news anchors at the White House before his address to Congress on February 28th that he is open to providing legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants as long as there is compromise on both sides cannot be taken seriously given the background, his continual speeches on the undesirability of undocumented immigrants, and his Executive Order on January 25, 2017, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States” targeting all the undocumented for removal, not just violent criminals. That prioritizes the removal of persons convicted of a criminal act, persons with unresolved criminal cases, and those who have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense, thus including everyone who has made an illegal entry since such is a crime under Section 275(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Reports are that after Mr. Trump’s comments, aides rushed to quickly to alert the Svengali- like Steve Bannon, chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, the senior policy advisor – both strident anti-immigration personages and chief writers of his address – and the remarks or any hints of them were not included in Mr. Trump’s speech.
The speech itself was virulently anti-immigrationist, like a hammer in a velvet glove, rather than the strident speeches that the President is known for making, e.g. Inaugural address. He talked of the U. S. standing united in condemning hate and evil in all of its forms, especially mentioning threats targeting the Jews, but only said “as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City” which would puzzle anyone not already familiar with the ethnic hate shooting of 2 engineers from India by a white man last week because of Mr. Trump’s short shrift, non-recitation of facts, and giving the wrong location as the shooting occurred in Olathe, Kansas, a city 20 miles from Kansas City. Mr. Trump had been criticized for not saying anything before, and so gave short shrift to answer his challengers, but no detail as such did not fit his narrative that immigrants are to be seen as perpetrators of violence, not the victims. He later presented four Americans in the galleries as the victims of undocumented immigrants whose son and 2 husbands were killed by illegal immigrants. He demonized the undocumented as creating an environment of lawless chaos, as the cause of American families losing jobs, income, or loved ones, and that by enforcing the immigration laws, his administration would raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.
So even though the facts on criminality by the undocumented do not bear him out, Mr. Trump’s demonizing and elaborating on anecdotal situations even to the point of bringing in four victims for his address hardens even further the sentiment against undocumented immigrants and would make legalization much harder. Mr. Trump has been accused many times of feinting and trying to confuse and distract his critics, and his remarks at the afternoon luncheon must be seen as one of those occasions. If by some chance he was sincere in that moment, he has already built himself a box from which he would find it very difficult to extricate himself.
For the record, undocumented immigrants are incarcerated much less than the native-born population of this country. In a 2010 survey, 1.6% of immigrant males the ages of 18-39 were incarcerated compared to 3.3% of native-born Americans. Although Steve Bannon’s publication, Breitbart, offers a figure of almost 37% of undocumented immigrants in federal prison, the overall federal prison population is only about 10% of the overall prison population, and the overwhelming majority of undocumented immigrants (76% in 2013) are there for immigration violations and not other criminal acts. The New York Times article on January 26, 2017, “Contrary to Trump’s Claims, Immigrants Are Less Likely to Commit Crimes”, says that “Analyses of census data from 1980 through 2010 show that among men ages 18 to 49, immigrants were one-half to one-fifth as likely to be incarcerated as those born in the United States.”
Immigrants are the lifeblood of a country’s maintaining itself in a leading position in the world where the native population is unable to reproduce fast enough. The Japanese are the prime example of a country that has fallen into stagflation for this reason. The German Chancellor has attempted to avoid the situation through importing vast numbers of refugees and will be seen in the future as a visionary who saved the future for her country although Germany is now going through the throes of change. In this country where immigrants are a huge life force – 3 million immigrants in the city of New York alone – mass deportation of the undocumented would leave hollowed out cities of empty apartments and houses and virulent crime. The immigrant population is generally younger than the general population, and will be a huge part of propping up the Social Security system for retiring baby boomers, the largest class of retirees ever. As stated in our article, “Is the Wreckage Fast Approaching for the Nation under Trump?”, Immigration Daily, 2/6/17, as of 2012, 95.5% of the 11,000,000+ undocumented immigrants living in the U. S. were under 55 years of age; 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 age 18 or over; and a 2016 study on the economic impacts of removing undocumented workers found that a policy of mass deportation would immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4% and ultimately by 2.6%, and reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion.
Whether he knows it or not, President Trump will need the undocumented immigrants to help him achieve many of the lofty goals that he stated in his address. The initiatives all cost money; he will find that some of the sources that he is counting on will not produce due to flawed assumptions; and he will need all the revenue that he can obtain – even from the undocumented.