President Donald J. Trump has proven to be rather predictable with his ongoing tirade to find ways to persecute and condemn undocumented immigrants, which seems to be centrally focused on Latinos at present. It started with what felt like extremely targeted and increased arrests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement following the inauguration. The number of arrests, however, hasn’t really panned out to be anything as drastic at 16,900 per month under Trump compared to what we saw at the peak of the Barack Obama administration, an average of roughly 34,000 people per month in 2012.
It’s curious, though, the panic over the ICE crackdown, given the numbers. It seems likely the word is out about deportations and that fewer are coming in, fewer are making themselves apparent, and more are already gone. And the fact that Obama reportedly ramped up deportations as a compromise with Republicans so they could work together but Obama got nothing in return — this shows that compromise, even while caving to the GOP’s demands to deport more, proved to be of no value. But Trump’s call this week to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was implemented in 2012 by Obama’s executive order without the need of Congressional approval, is just more of the same chaotic mission to diminish the value of these immigrants. But the outcome of this latest move is unclear.
“Only by the reliable enforcement of immigration law can we produce safe communities, a robust middle class and economic fairness for all Americans,” Mr. Trump said, calling the DACA program an “amnesty-first approach.” “Before we ask what is fair to illegal immigrants, we must also ask what is fair to American families, students, taxpayers, and job seekers,” as reported in “Trump Moves to End DACA and Calls on Congress to Act,” in the New York Times on Sept. 5.
The real kicker here is the fact that Trump kicked the can down the road — six months down the road — and urged Congress to replace DACA with legislation before it begins phasing out on March 5, 2018. It seems as though we have heard this same sort of phrasing before — remember the repeal and replace failure of the Affordable Care Act in July? Perhaps the caveat is that one little detail: replace. But given Trump’s haphazard way of presiding over this country, who knows if his mission to end DACA really has any meat to it or is just more smoke and mirrors to distract us from something else. Let’s examine, for example, today’s “illegal” immigrants. A hundred years ago, the hoops that our immigrant forefathers and -mothers jumped through for a better life were nothing like what undocumented immigrants are going through today.
The caliber of a people who would risk it all to give their kids a better life as well as searching for that themselves, even to live without proper legal documents, living in fear of losing the very little that they have earned here doing back breaking work after what was already given up, is the heart of what makes America amazing. (The corruption of exploiting these willing people, however, is not lost in this argument.) Those kinds of risk-takers are the heartbeat of this country. Without these ambitious, driven and motivated humans who came here for a better life, America would be something else altogether, for better or worse. To belittle the children who lived under the radar with their parents and who also lived in the same fear of deportation is simply bewildering. But now that we know for certain that Trump is trying to make good on his word, 2018 is right around the bend. No matter the true outcome of Trump’s mission, it’s time for those who are burdened in so many ways by this state of continued uncertainty to pull together and figure out how to really move America forward through a message of unity and not just being angry about why “great again” won’t work.