Fabiola Santiago

That ‘extreme vetting’ Trump wants for immigrants? He wouldn’t pass it

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday
Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Youngstown, Ohio, on Monday AP

Losing in the polls by widening margins — his unhinged behavior and alarming campaign ties to Russia no longer acceptable across party lines — Donald Trump tried to regain momentum by, once more, stoking American paranoia.

No issue serves the purpose better than immigration. So out of his bag of crowd-rousing tricks, Trump pulled out a call for “extreme, extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking entry into the United States.

“Those who do not believe in our Constitution, or support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into our country,” Trump said Monday in Ohio. “Only those who expect to flourish in our country and to embrace a tolerant American society should be issued visas.”

By those standards, Trump wouldn’t be fit to call himself an American.

He has banned media he doesn’t like from campaign events, First Amendment be damned. He has singled out Muslims for exclusion, religious freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution not standing in his way. He has cast Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, and inspired wholesale anti-immigrant hatred all over the land.

In fact, if voters hadn’t catapulted him to the GOP nomination and the party sealed the deal, there’s no other way the millionaire real estate magnate would’ve made it through the background and security-clearance checks required of a high-ranking federal employee or political appointee, says a former immigration chief.

Trump and his Slovenian wife, Melania, wouldn’t pass the multi-level government screening in place now and when he was in charge, says Perry Rivkind, a Reagan appointee who was associate commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the 1980s and INS district director in Miami.

“He would be rejected because of his statements,” Rivkind said. “He’d never be accepted into any other position. I’m not sure he could get an appointment because he couldn’t pass a security check. He could not get into a U.S. government job based on his statements on Russia, his attacks on people. He couldn’t get any clearance. He couldn’t have access to classified material.”

Rivkind should know. He was an insider who vetted candidates at the Justice Department. People were turned down for character flaws less detrimental than Trump’s. He was sent to Miami by the Reagan administration and used his discretionary powers to grant refuge to immigrants he didn’t want to send back to wars in Central America. Many Hispanic Republicans voting for Trump can thank Rivkind for their citizenship. The INS director he replaced, whose tactics were despotically Trumpian, would’ve sent them packing.

Rivkind, now retired in Arizona, also questions how Melania was able to obtain a work visa and travel a speedy road to citizenship.

A fledgling modeling career and posing for nude photographs doesn’t qualify anyone as “exceptional,” the category under which her employer would have had to apply for Melania to obtain the necessary visa to legally work here, he said.

“It raises questions as to what her status was when she came in,” Rivkind said, adding that, as aspiring First Lady, Melania Trump should open her immigration file to public scrutiny. “The media has a right to know. That’s not top secret.”

The vetting system for immigrants is so strict that the sexy photographs of Melania holding a gun, wearing a mask and posing in “sadomasochistic” poses should’ve been cause to put a review hold on her permanent status, Rivkind said. And the false college degree claimed on her now-removed website, if listed in her immigration applications, also would be grounds for visa revocation or residency denial.

But it was smooth sailing for Melania Trump through the immigration system her husband wants to overhaul for others.

Maybe Republicans ought to start “extreme vetting” their presidential candidates.

  Comments