Opinion: The Trump Administration isn’t about making America great again. It’s about racism.
By Allan Mendoza
Writing about the Trump administration for a biweekly publication is crazy-making; the latest scandal or outrage eclipses one from the day — or even hour — before. Instead, we need to look at trends. And since the end of July to the beginning of this month, it’s been apparent: the Trump administration is doubling down on racism.
Yes, the rhetoric and policies of the president and his administration have always had racist undertones. From referring to Mexicans as “bad hombres” to a de facto barring of Muslims via the poorly thought-out and unconstitutional travel ban, the administration hasn’t been shy to hide its disdain for minorities. And this rhetoric has always been hidden by ostensive motivations such as protecting American jobs and securing borders in these cases.
However, something changed in the aftermath of Charlottesville when Trump blamed the violence — including the murder of Heather Heyer — on “many sides.” By not denouncing the white supremacists movement responsible for Heyer’s death, Trump wasn’t even trying to hide his defense of the white supremacists in this case — he was outright abetting them. He had stumbled enough in waiting over a day to respond to Heather Harvey’s murder. Whenever Muslims were found responsible for a terror attack in the United States or abroad, the president always had a tweet ready. This time, he claimed he was waiting for all the facts to come in, despite most of the information regarding the attack arriving hours afterwards.
But even when the words come — or don’t come — from Trump’s mouth, the administration’s racism comes in the form of outright cruelty through its policies.
With ending DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, we hardly have the veneer of reasoning of national security or even purported economic fairness. We’re tearing individuals from the only country they’ve known as well from jobs, homes, and families, with many DACA recipients the parents of U.S. citizen children. These 800,000 DACA recipients, of whom over 80 percent are employed or in college, contribute billions to our nation’s economy while not receiving a dime back in government aid. Yes, these people have broken the law by coming into this country, but the blame is on the parents and it’s gotten to the point that by punishing them, the country is only harming itself.
But lost in the events in Charlottesville and end of DACA are the pushes to limit legal immigration. Early in August, Trump backed a controversial move in the Senate to reduce the number of green cards issued — from one million to half that amount — giving priority to younger, high skilled workers who speak English instead of extended family members as the current system does. Prospective immigrants with the right kind of credentials that our country needs will still have to choose whether or not to leave their families behind.
Also lost is the July 22nd announcement of the end of Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, for the over 58,000 Haitians who fled to the U.S. after the catastrophic 2003 earthquake in Haiti. While both the Bush and Obama administrations share the blame for not granting a permanent status for these refugees, ending the TPS status now proves that the Trump administration lacks decency. One cannot expect, after 15 years, to have people put their lives on hold as many of them had held jobs for over a decade, bought homes, and — most importantly — many have children born and raised in the U.S. Despite over a decade and a half, Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake and can barely offer basic services. Not surprisingly, returning to Haiti is hardly an option for these Haitians, but desperation has led to the present exodus into Canada.
Going back to the idea of trends, all of these situations have something in common: they convey the idea that the United States is not just an unfriendly place for minorities, but an outright hostile one. Even if DACA or TPS get extended, or if the stricter legal immigration rules never pass, the sheer focus on immigration in the last two months, coupled with the not-so-tacit approval of white supremacists groups, it’s clear Trump is playing on the demographic concerns (re: worries about an increased proportion of minorities in the U.S. population) of his base, regardless of the economic harm to our country, much less the individual suffering inflicted on people.