Dear Central Americans clutching the American Dream close to your heart:
Forget about it.
If the current times were a Hollywood movie, it would be titled “No Country for Dreamers.”
You need not apply, not for now anyway. It’s pretty nasty around here. The Ugly American and Fox News are in charge.
I know. How terribly sad to see the United States’ identity as a beacon of freedom and democracy flushed down the toilet by the sitting president and his court of enablers, day in and day out, with one xenophobic policy move after another.
But such is the state of the nation; not even Easter is sacred anymore. It’s just another time and place to rail against immigrants from the White House with the Easter Bunny by your side.
In Trumplandia, one day it’s all about building a multi-billion-dollar wall to keep out would-be immigrants even though there may be a refugee crisis — 65.6 million of the world’s population has been displaced — but it’s not in our backyard. The amount of refugees this country resettles as part of the worldwide relief effort is infinitesimally small. U.S. net immigration numbers are the lowest in decades. We’re no longer a leader in this area. That’s clear.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Trump’s whim this week: the aggressive move to send troops to the border with Mexico, a neighbor that has gone out of its way to be diplomatic and courteous — despite the odious, racist attacks of this president against its people.
There is no border crisis.
But the president saw on Fox News a report that “a caravan” of thousands of Central American refugees was crossing Mexico on its way to the United States — and it was all hands on deck at the Pentagon. Out of Syria and into the southern border we march!
Tomorrow, it will be something else that Trump saw in a network that capitalizes on right-wing phobia for ratings. Fox groomed Trump’s base before the presidential candidate ever existed and made a fine buck. Before Trump, all that sane Americans needed to do was not watch it. But now, shows like Fox & Friends drive national and international policy. That’s scary. Stay away.
Had Trump bothered to read the report from the ground in The New York Times, he might have learned something substantial about the women and children fleeing Honduras and traveling in a big group for the safety in numbers.
They aren’t criminals, as the president claimed. They’re fleeing from criminals and gangs aided and abetted by American drug addiction. There’s proactive action and humanitarian relief the president could consider if he truly wanted to solve problems, but it’s the macho image that burns in his heart: armed troops stopping women and children worn by a dangerous trek through jungles no American can imagine.
Before it descended into the right-wing abyss, this so-called richest nation in the world — and we were the richest, if not in oil, at least in programs that defined us, like the Peace Corps and effective refugee resettlement programs — used to care about people’s suffering.
I don’t recognize this ugly — I mean the official ugly, heartless, and self-centered — America.
I want to make that distinction because it’s the one thing that saves us, the hope that this round-the-clock feeling of being under a state of siege by an epidemic of nastiness is only a Trump-induced disorder.
This is not to say times were peachy before Trump — far from it; racism has always been our original sin — but there was a dignity to being an American that eludes us these days.
After he won the election and he had at his disposal a majority Republican Congress, there was a sliver of hope that Trump might turn down the level of toxicity given the weight the presidency used to command. Instead, Trump has taken stoking xenophobia to a higher level, making it the driver of policy. From Fox to Twitterstorm to executive order.
There is no border crisis that calls for militarization. There is no invasion of “illegal aliens” or any other kind. The Central Americans are either staying in Mexico or relocating elsewhere. They’ve been given transit papers.
There are, however, plenty of American children that Trump has betrayed.
He has deported decent, hardworking and contributing parents of U.S.-born children coming of age in this land with that loss in their hearts. He eliminated DACA, the only protection that children raised and educated in this country as American had from deportation, and failed to lead Congress in finding a permanent solution to their limbo status.
Igniting anti-immigrant passions isn’t going to solve the country’s problems or people’s individual predicaments in changing economies — but it can make them worse. The president’s actions are already having consequences.
The stock market, which at first reacted positively to his presidency, has responded to the instability created by his tweets about tariffs and trade wars — and his attack on Amazon, a proxy war on the Washington Post’s coverage of his presidency — with major downward swings that have led to losses in retirement savings accounts.
This, as Trump rails against U.S. friends and embraces undemocratic regimes. The world sees that we’ve lost our moral compass.
Some say it’s all political calculus — and a distraction from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-meddling probe getting closer to the president.
But there’s something more sinister and deeper running amok in the making of a country without dreamers.