The TRUMP Card!

USAfrica Journal Cover

Immigrants Dazed

By Alex Baker | USA

“The Trump campaign was largely short on actual policy. As an inexperienced politician, he’s a tremendous unknown on so many levels, but the area he was most explicit on was immigration. And none of it bodes well for actual immigrants in this country or those seeking to enter.”

Donald J. Trump stunned the world by pulling off a gigantic upset and defeating Hillary Clinton in what was the most unusual and divisive presidential race in modern American history. While Clinton would’ve made history as the first female president, Trump instead makes history as the first President-elect of the United States to have never have been a military general or previously held office.

The wealthy real-estate mogul and reality-TV star ran on a platform of divisiveness and separatism, and his victory comes as a huge potential blow to immigrant rights in the United States.

Trump began his campaign by stereotyping Mexicans as “rapists” and “murderers,” and has pledged to, among other things, build a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to keep people out. Trump has also pledged to “restore integrity to our immigration system,” to send “criminal aliens” home while keeping out “immigrants and refugees who don’t go through rigorous vetting.”

It’s a stark contrast to Clinton, whose progressive immigration policy would’ve extended the protections for DREAMers put in place by President Barack Obama and extended that protection to their parents and family members. A Trump presidency throws the future of the DREAMer Act into serious doubt, with candidate Trump having pledged to rescind Obama’s executive order protecting undocumented migrants who arrived as children.

But the former host of TV’s “The Apprentice” promised many things during his campaign, including bringing back the coal industry, appointing a special prosecutor to pursue charges against Clinton – and, of course, his famous wall. The question now is: Can he actually do any of these things? The answer in regard to the wall is, “yes.” He can actually do this. While it’s unclear how Trump could force Mexico to pay for the wall, building a wall along the edge of his own territory is within his power as president.

But the U.S. border with Mexico is about 1,989 miles long and runs from California to Texas. While there are already fences in place along much of the border, building an actual wall offers significant logistical challenges, regardless of who pays for it. The topography of much of the border is extremely rugged, and huge tracts of the borderlands are privately owned, further complicating matters.

Also, such a wall could cost tens of billions of dollars – and if Mexico won’t pay, even a Republican Congress may be reluctant to fork over that kind of money.

Far more worrying than the wall is perhaps Trump’s claim that he will “create a new special deportation task [force].” Currently, there are around 11.3 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Trump once promised to deport them all but later softened his stance, saying he would target around 6.5 million of them.

While as a candidate he maintained that his deportation force would be “focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal and illegal immigrants,” setting up a kind of deportation Gestapo is a serious cause for concern. Deporting 6.5 million people would require law-enforcement tactics in line with that of a police state, never mind the costs, also likely to be in the billions, or the fact that it would reduce the U.S. labor force by around 6.4 percent.

Deporting migrants caught making the crossing along the Mexican border is already common practice. But most undocumented immigrants entered the United States legally and merely overstayed their visas. Many are awaiting political asylum cases that can take years to be heard.

Trump is also likely to significantly reduce the number of refugees admitted to the United States. Traditionally, the United States has offered more resettlement spots for refugees than any other country. Trump has instead promised to introduce new screening tests, including tests on religion and ideology. The Trump campaign was largely short on actual policy. As an inexperienced politician, he’s a tremendous unknown on so many levels, but the area he was most explicit on was immigration. And none of it bodes well for actual immigrants in this country or those seeking to enter.

In addition to encouraging “self-deportation” for unauthorized immigrants currently living in the United States, Trump wants to make it harder for immigrants to enter the country legally. One way he would do this would be by making it harder for American companies to attain visas for immigrant workers. He also wants to put in place an “extreme vetting” process for individual immigrants.

Unauthorized immigrants who do leave the country through self-deportation or other means, meanwhile, would have to wait three to 10 years to apply to reenter legally or, more likely, be permanently barred.

Trump largely staked his candidacy on a message of being anti-immigrant and suspicious of minority groups, as well as a desire to return America to a kind of bygone era when whites, mostly males it seems, were steering the direction of this country. The most alarming thing about his election is that despite his obvious lack of qualifications for the job, it is this particular message that seems to have resonated with the voters who propelled him to victory.

Even if he is unable to carry out any of his more far-flung plans, such as building a wall or deporting millions, it is perhaps the anti-immigrant, anti-foreign sentiment he has awakened that is the greatest cause for concern about Trump being elected.