President Donald Trump’s plan to deport a quarter-million Salvadoran U.S. residents is pragmatic, cogent and logical — except for one critical thing: Salvadorans are people.
That’s the problem with the practical application of hard-line immigration policy. It makes sense until you go to apply it.
Trump’s latest foray into rousting unwanted, brown foreigners to anywhere but here picks on a community of immigrants close to home for Aurora. In fact, Salvadorans are so fond of the place, the Salvadoran government opened a consulate here last year.
While the bulk of these residents live in places like Washington D.C. and San Francisco, there are about 14,000 Salvadorans in Colorado. About 4,000 live right here in Aurora and have for years.
They’re not illegal immigrants. At least not yet. Salvadoran residents wanting to move to the United States have for years received special dispensation, called temporary protected status, because things in their country were horrific after a 2001 earthquake.
In the past we’ve called these things, “humanitarian crises,” because they involved horrific things involving humans. These days, the Trumpers call it, “tough luck” and “not our problem.”
They explain it like this: We are a nation of laws. That means you have to accept and follow the laws, or change them. If you’re a Republican rancher using federal lands to graze your cattle for free, ignoring the law is called “negotiation.” You change the law by forcing a gun stand-off with federal agents. If you’re poor and Mexican, it’s called, “ breaking the law.” You just suck it up.
For the past eight years or so, Republicans have prevented changing immigration laws, setting up the day when someone like Donald Trump would walk into the White House and handle immigration like some kind of trade deal.
Anti-immigrant types believe that if we don’t make and enforce tough immigration laws, we will be overrun with pushy, greedy people who talk funny and just want our jobs, kind of like what’s happening with Texas and Florida here in Colorado. The touchstone for Trump and his trolls, minions and followers is: What’s in it for me? Why would we let people come here if America gets nothing but poor, scared people who just want a job?
So Trump says we must be judicious with whom we let in the country. He wants to change our criteria for allowing new immigrants to ensure that only those with skills can come here. Instead of the world giving us their tired, their poor and their huddle masses, Trump says we should allow only those with special talents that America needs, like his wife, Melania, whose special needed talent was modeling.
Trump doesn’t think working hard as an office cleaner, a house builder, a restaurant worker or snow-shoveler are skills America needs, even though nobody here wants to do those jobs because the business owners don’t want to pay employees much. They say they can’t make a profit if they pay workers a living wage to do the work. Many industry owners who back Trump and Republicans for their superior economic prowess quietly fight them on this issue, because they know profits will plummet when they have to hire two millennial U.S. citizens at double the price to do the work of one Salvadoran or Mexican immigrant.
And because their willingness to work hard, for cheap, helps depress wages, many immigrants must work two jobs to make enough money to live. Most Americans call these people “amazing” and the hardest working mechanic/dishwasher/ slaughterhouse-butcher they’ve ever seen. Trump calls them “killers and rapists.”
It doesn’t matter what Trump calls them. They have to go. He doesn’t say it exactly like that. He has his people explain to the American people that the reasons bleeding-heart-liberals George W. Bush and Dick Cheney let Salvadorans come and stay here don’t exist any more. The big Salvadoran earthquake was years ago, and they have hospitals now. So go home.
It’s like this. Are we a country of laws? Yes. Did we invite the Salvadorans to come stay here because of a big earthquake? Yes. Is that earthquake a threat to them now? No. Does current immigration law allow for the complications of real life, children born here, kids in school, mixed families? No. We’re just enforcing the law here.
So Trump’s plan makes sense until you impose it on people who have lived here going on 20 years, who must now pack it up for a country in total turmoil. Many don’t even remember it or have never even seen it. Trump’s plan for the Salvadorans and all resident immigrants make sense if you remove compassion, humanity and reality from the equation.
If Congress were to actually pass comprehensive immigration reform that addresses issues just like this and many others, the plan for these Salvadoran immigrants would be part of it. But Republican extremists have kept that from happening for almost a decade now. They have control of the Congress and their guy in the White House. It’s worked out nicely for them.
Trump’s is rolling out his idea of immigration reform this week when he tries to blackmail Democrats into spending $18 billion on a boondoggle Mexican wall and hiring tens of thousands of additional ICE officers to deport people like the Salvadorans, who will become illegal immigrants next year. In exchange for agreeing to ship millions of people just like the Salvadorans out of the country, he’ll release the DACA hostages he’s been threatening for months now. All those millions of kids brought to the United States illegally as children and raised just like every other American, they can stay, but their parents must go. It’s the law.
And it all makes sense, if you’re Donald Trump.
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