We’ve got a lot of room
“We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.” President Donald Trump, on immigration, April 5, 2019
On April 9, Republicans responded: “I don’t think the country’s full. We’ve got a lot of room in North Dakota and there’s even more in Montana.” Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
“We need immigration just to maintain our existing population.” Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.
“I believe that we need more skilled legal immigrants.” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
The United States is now sitting at 3.8 percent unemployment. Employers are crying for more workers. Immigrants are needed to fill many of these jobs. The editor of the Storm Lake Times wrote about this critical need: “Here in Storm Lake, Iowa, where the population is about 15,000 and unemployment is under 2 percent, Asians and Africans and Latinos are our lifeline. The only threat they pose to us is if they weren’t here.” (Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2019)
Here in Nevada, we have a teacher shortage. One example is Washoe County School District, which is short over 80 substitutes every day. Emily Ellison, chief human resources officer, attributes this to low unemployment. “I think overall the labor market is competitive.” (Reno Gazette Journal, April 10, 2019)
A recent Federal Reserve report said, “With unemployment near a 50-year low, the report said that there were shortages of skilled workers in manufacturing and construction as well as some technical and professional positions.” (RGJ, April 18, 2019)
If Trump looked at these statistics rationally, he could bask in the low unemployment rate and new job numbers. Instead, he continues to try to discourage immigration, because he’s short-sighted and ignorant.
One policy he’s considered is sending undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities. He believes sanctuary cities are liberal strongholds, and since he hates liberals and immigrants, this sounds to him like a perfect solution. Punish everyone at once!
However, contrary to right-wing claims, liberals are not upset at the idea of Trump sending undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities. The New York Daily News had a beautiful cover on April 13, with a picture of the Statue of Liberty and the headline “We’ll take them.”
On April 12, the mayor of Seattle wrote an editorial reaffirming Seattle’s adherence to America’s values: “Here’s a message to President Trump: Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. …So if this president wants to send immigrants and refugees to Seattle and other welcoming cities, let me be clear: We will do what we have always done, and we will be stronger for it. And it will only strengthen our commitment to fighting for the dignity of every person. We will not allow any administration to use the power of America to destroy the promise of America.”
As for the immigrants themselves, if I had just traveled hundreds or thousands of miles on foot, and the president of the U.S. offered me a free trip to a beautiful welcoming city, I would be thrilled! Thank you, President Trump!
Trump is confused about what has made America great. He seems to think exclusion and viciousness and cruelty are American values. Anyone who thinks tearing families apart and putting babies in cages are good ideas has no business running our wonderful country.
Trump is also abysmally ignorant about our immigration laws, especially those pertaining to asylum. U.S. Attorney General William Barr just ruled that asylum seekers will no longer be able to post bail when they are detained, something they have always been allowed to do. Seeking asylum is not illegal, no matter how the person enters the country. Imprisoning these people is contrary to federal and international law. This is a disgrace and a stain on our country.
And why would anyone still believe a loser like Trump? Trump claims he wants a wall but Democrats won’t work with him. This is the man who negotiated a guaranteed $25 billion from Democrats for his wall, and a workable immigration reform plan, down to $1.357 billion for no wall and no plan. Not exactly the Art of the Deal! Clearly Trump relishes chaos and conflict far more than he wants border security.
If Trump cared about America, he would be doing what is best for all of us, not just what wins him adulation from his base. But that would mean putting the country ahead of his own interests, something he’s never been able to do. All he can do is play the victim and give his base the excuse to do the same.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.