“The wall will get built, folks!”
That’s President Donald Trump fielding media questions Tuesday in his typically sophomoric vocabulary as the clock ticks on his first 100 days in office.
“The wall gets built 100 percent. … The wall is very, very important.”
People laugh when I tell them that President Trump forced me to give up caffeine. But it’s no joke. My daily dose of supercharged cafecito, a standard practice in my life the last four decades, has been replaced by healthier teas for one reason: Writing while heavily caffeinated about Trump’s cruel immigration policies — mothers and fathers being ripped apart from their children — was going to kill me.
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As ugly an idea as it is, it’s not the stupid wall that enrages me. But I could feel my blood pressure rise daily as the campaign promises of a crass celebrity billionaire were turned into the executive orders of a president for whom undocumented immigrants who’ve made this country their home for decades made an easy, immediate target.
Never mind the fact that Mexico isn’t paying and that Congress, at least for now, is not funding Trump’s wall, and that Trump has agreed to stand down on wall funding to avoid a government shutdown. The constant talk about the wall is a distraction from the real immigration story unfolding every day in communities across the country and from our being able to see — really see — the victims of Trump’s short tenure in office.
The big accomplishment of Trump’s first 100 days is terrorizing undocumented immigrants who make for easy targets: Fathers dropping children off at school in Latino communities. Mothers arrested at routine check-in appointments with ICE. A grandmother taking care of a Navy veteran’s children picked up outside her house. A peaceful activist detained after leaving a press conference. A business owner beloved in a pro-Trump community deported despite pleas.
I could go on citing cases, notable for the focus on deporting mostly Mexicans forced to leave their U.S. citizen children behind. The roster of good people deported by the Trump administration is growing. All this suffering is being heaped upon a segment of the population to appease a base of voters who are in the minority but whose old prejudices and new fear of others are driving the country’s agenda.
Interestingly enough, Americans are telling pollsters in record numbers that they support immigration.
Six in 10 Americans said immigration helps more than it hurts the country, according to a newly released Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey. That’s up six points since the last survey in September and the highest level of support for immigration measured since 2005.
Yet under Trump, ICE has amped up the deportation of nonviolent immigrants who were breadwinners in their families. Who’s going to pay for raising parentless U.S. citizen children? Taxpayers, of course.
Trump’s deportees have not turned out to be, after all, the “bad hombres” whom Trump vowed to deport, the estimated two million undocumented with criminal records, including gang members.
The word cowardly comes to mind. It takes courage to engage in effective policing and rounding up real criminals, and only a jaded heart or no heart at all to separate parents from their children.
The easy-target deportations cover up the Trump administration’s other immigration policy failures.
Federal courts have now twice stopped Trump from barring entry to people from predominantly Muslim countries where he doesn’t have business interests. On Tuesday, a federal judge in San Fancisco blocked Trump’s order to cut off funding to cities that limit cooperation with immigration authorities and have been blacklisted as “sanctuary cities.”
The next 100 days only promise more bad policy-making, more injustice — and the smokescreen of a wall that’s already risen.