published August 26, 2015
Donald Trump is now against it, and after previously being for it. Last month, he went on record as being in favor of allowing the “good people” among our undocumented population to stay in the U.S. Not so anymore, since he boldly declared his newest and latest position that we should deport the 12 million plus living in the U.S. in violation of our immigration laws. For good measure, he would also reverse the law that confers U.S. citizenship on all those born here and build a continuous, massive wall at the U.S./Mexico border.
No doubt, the “they all got to go” battle cry has struck a responsive chord with a certain segment of the electorate and Trump leads the Republican field by a mile. Such a result says volumes about a sizeable portion of our society, looking for a convenient, compact object of blame for our ills. Why is there crime? Why are there out of work Americans? What is the root cause of most of our country’s problems? Look no further than our illegal immigrants, who, per Trump, play a pivotal role in creating numerous societal crises. Forget about their merit, viability or legality (especially for the reversal of birthright citizenship), Trump’s ideas and statements have taken hold and gone far to dictate our political conversation and media agenda. In fact, the first question Republican presidential candidates are usually asked relates to something Donald Trump has said or thinks.
Why is this case? Are undocumented immigrants in danger of being rounded up? Why is Trump scary?
Why does Trump get so much attention? Because he is smart, having craftily picked an indisputable societal problem – illegal immigration – and loudly and unequivocally finding a simple solution that feels good to the angriest among us – of which there are quite a few. There is no question that our nation has an immigration law problem and the fact that we are seriously talking about it is a positive by-product of Trump’s political hand grenades and screams for attention.
Could we pass better laws, more suited to our society’s needs? Could we do a better job of enforcing our existing laws? Yes and yes! And depending on who you ask, just one of these two questions is really relevant. For certain, you will hear U.S. employers declare again and again they cannot find Americans that want to work hard, or even show up for work, and notwithstanding their offer of competitive wages and benefits. All the while there are plenty of hard working, hungry and eager undocumented folks in the U.S. ready to apply themselves and earn as much as they can to support their families in the U.S. and back in their home countries.
But Trump’s message incorporates a different point of view: If not for all these undocumented workers having invaded our country, there would be far fewer Americans out of work, and our society, our economy, and the American workplace would be in much better shape. To say that Trump’s thesis hits a nerve is an understatement. In truth, Trump’s statements have created gargantuan waves and Trump will ride these waves all the way to the Republican convention. Whether he is serious about becoming President or not, Trump has established the agenda for so many of our societal conversations and has positioned himself as a potent political player.
However, despite the strong and loud chorus of Hell Yeahs! from Trump supporters to the idea of rounding up our undocumented population, such a plan has little or no chance of ever getting implemented, and for a multitude of reasons. First society has to be prepared to increase our immigration law enforcement infrastructure by 3000%, to hire enough immigration agents, prosecutors and judges to carry out such a plan. This of course requires an investment in the tens, if not hundreds, of billions. From there, practically all of these undocumented individuals will be entitled to a removal hearing, and with more than half of this population eligible to be considered for “cancellation of removal” relief (where long-time inhabitants of the U.S. with immediate U.S. citizens or resident family who will suffer extreme hardship, may qualify to have removal proceedings terminated and even be awarded resident status by immigration judges). If that sounds a lot like a legalization program, it is because it is a lot like a legalization program, at least with a chance for the same result.
So then, what is so scary about Donald Trump and his ideas? When I hear a skilled orator appeal to a populace’s most angry segments and offer easy and convenient scapegoats for our nation’s problems, my thoughts go to extreme examples of skilled orators gone wrong. No Donald Trump is not looking to round up folks and kill them. But the basis he is using to sell his ideas consist of, at best, vague half-truths, aimed at stirring emotions and the roar of a crowd. For an angry audience, Donald Trump’s bullying remarks and generalizations are cotton candy – tasty and with little or no substance. When I see Donald Trump take shots at a war hero, a respected television anchorwoman, and pretty much anyone else who disagrees with him, and still command a double digit lead in the polls, I get scared. Not necessarily for our nation’s undocumented population, but for humanity.
PUBLISHED August 26, 2015– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2015, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois