By Corpus Christi Caller-Times
For a self-proclaimed great negotiator, President Trump has staked out a curious position for himself on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, aka DACA. It reminds us of a scene in the western movie spoof “Blazing Saddles,” in which the central character takes himself hostage, putting his gun to his head to stave off a lynch mob.
Trump recently tweeted: “The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc. We must protect our Country at all cost!”
He followed up with a tweet that Democrats are doing nothing for DACA and that its recipients, the so-called DREAMers — productive young undocumented immigrants brought here as children — would “fall in love” with the Republican Party.
It doesn’t take the average overachieving DREAMer’s common sense to recognize that the loaded gun in Trump’s hand is not pointed at the Democrats.
Trump’s proposed wall, the wedge issue he used successfully to appeal to the worst anti-immigrant instincts in his most loyal voters, would be an ecological, economic and diplomatic disaster. But of perhaps more immediate concern is that it would cost multiple billions of dollars we don’t have available to waste. And that even Trump’s most gullible voters have figured out by now that Mexico won’t pay for the wall.
DACA’s end is due in March if Congress doesn’t act. That leaves 800,000 DREAMers in an inhumanely precarious position. If Trump wants to play chicken with these people’s lives and livelihoods, he should consider what hangs in the balance and who’s really at risk.
DACA immigrants do our economy a lot more good than harm. They earn almost $20 billion a year and pay more than $3 billion in taxes.
Trump’s huge tax cut, his lone legislative victory, comes at an estimated cost of $1.5 trillion. He needs the DREAMers and their earnings. Democrat, Republican or otherwise, we all do.
He also needs to rethink his position on what he calls “chain migration.” The terminology is basically hater-spin on how we all got to this country — once upon a time, which can be as recently as last year or as long ago as 20,000 years via the Bering Strait, our industrious ancestors immigrated here and sent for the rest of the family as soon as they could manage it. Trump owes his own citizenship and silver-spoon privilege to so-called “chain migration.”
Demonizing family immigration as “chain migration” is a political ploy for fanning fears of terrorism. But eventually it will occur to even his most committed anti-immigrant supporters, even if they claim Mayflower lineage, that they still have some relatives in the old country they’d like to sponsor. The rest of the country has already figured out that they are pro-immigrant, according to polls.
Trump keeps talking about wanting to let in only productive people who can help us. He can’t do that by killing one of their main incentives. No one with any gumption would want to come here if it meant leaving behind his or her entire family for good.
The bottom line is that immigration is good for the economy and the gene pool and hindering immigration is bad for both. The right, smart thing for a president to do would be to urge Democrats and Republicans to deliver DACA legislation pronto, treat the wall as a separate issue, abandon “chain migration” hate rhetoric and stop playing with that loaded gun.
>> Corpus Christi Caller-Times