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Instead of His Wall, Let’s Show Trump the Door

President Trump has manufactured a “national emergency” to justify creating a wall across the Mexican border.  A caravan of some 7,000 desperate, vulnerable Central American mothers and fathers and children, fleeing violence and poverty and seeking  asylum in the United States, were portrayed as a threatening “invasion force,” with “many gang members and some very bad people” – including “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” [terrorists].  Thus the few thousand impoverished caravan members were met at the border with American military, tear gas, the separation and incarceration of children and their parents, and, for good measure, the blocking of their lawful access to official ports of entry to apply for asylum.  Trump tweeted about them: “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!”  No!  Trump lied and migrant children died!   

President Trump’s lied.  Without proof, he tweeted, “Democrats are the problem.  They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13.”  He went on:  “They can’t win on their terrible policies. So they view them as potential voters!”  (”Trump: Dems want illegal immigrants to ‘infest our country,’” by Brooke Seipel, The Hill, June 19, 2018)

Never mind the reported “social-science research on immigration and crime [that] is clear: Undocumented immigrants are considerably less likely to commit crime than native-born citizens, with immigrants legally in the United States less likely to do so.”  According to a Cato Institute study, “native born residents were much more likely to be convicted of a crime than immigrants in the country legally or illegally.” (“Two charts demolish the notion that immigrants here illegally commit more crime,” by Christopher Ingraham, The Washington Post, June 19, 2018)

In fact, studies reveal that immigrants enrich American life.  “A broad survey . . . examined years of research on the immigration-crime connection,” and “conclud[ed] that an overwhelming majority of studies found either no relationship between the two or a beneficial one, in which immigrant communities bring economic and cultural revitalization to the neighborhoods they join.” (“The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant,” by Anna Flagg, The New York Times, March 30,2018)

President Trump lied and many migrants seeking asylum have died.  A recent study reported by the Associated Press “revealed that nearly 4,000 migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees, have died or gone missing along the route through Mexico toward the U.S. border in the past four years . . . [with] 364 deaths in 2018 alone . . . 77 were from Central America.”  A figure the Associated Press said is “likely low.” (‘NEARLY 4,000 MIGRANTS HAVE DIED OR GONE MISSING TRYING TO GET TO THE U.S.,’ By Chantal Da Silva, Newsweek, Dec. 4, 2018)

The Trump administration has put obstacles in the way of migrants as they seek to exercise their international- and U.S.-given legal right to apply for asylum. First, migrants who made it to the Mexican border were faced with a “zero tolerance” policy, which involved the cruel practice of separating children from their parents and caging them, in an attempt to discourage other Central American families from seeking asylum in the U.S.  To frustrate the migrants’ lawful right to apply for asylum, the administration, by withholding adequate asylum-processing staff, has created a massive backlog of cases, which means that migrants can be forced to wait years before having their cases decided by Justice Department lawyers – another tactic employed to discourage them.  Border security was conveniently used to block migrants seeking security. (See “Homeland Security focuses on border security – not processing asylum applications from migrant caravan,” By Alan, Gomez, USA TODAY, Nov. 17, 2018)

President Trump’s obsession with the “invasion” of criminals who will “infest” America is false and smacks of hysterical manipulation of his base..  A New York Timesstory exposes his claim that such a crisis exists at the Mexican border.  He declares, “We can’t have people pouring into our country like they have over the last 10 years.”  According to The Times, “The reality [is that] illegal border crossings have been declining for nearly two decades.  In 2017,” for example, “border-crossing apprehensions were at their lowest point since 1971.”  And, “undetected illegal border crossings have dropped at an even faster rate, from 851,000 in 2006 to approximately 62,000 in 2016, according to estimates by the Department of Homeland Security.” (“Trump Claims There Is a Crisis at the Border. What’s the Reality?,” By Joe Ward and Anjali Singhvi, Jan. 11. 2019)

Another reported distortion: President Trump says, “Every week, 300 of our citizens are killed by heroin alone, 90 percent of which floods across from our southern border.”  But the Drug Enforcement Administration states “that most heroin is brought into the country in vehicles entering through legal border crossings, not through areas where walls are proposed oO already exist.” (Ibid)

A manipulative President Trump is assumed to appeal to his base with the unrestrained words,” Over the years, thousands of Americans have been brutally killed by those who illegally entered our country, and thousands more lives will be lost if we don’t act right now.”  His assertion is contradicted by “several studies [that] have found no link between immigration and crime, and some have found lower crime rates among immigrants.” (Ibid)

The violence President Trump does to reality is shocking.  To justify his wall, he is reported to “recount with graphic detail what happens to victims of smugglers: Women are tied up.  They are bound.  Duct tape put around their faces, around their mouths.  In many cases, they can’t even breathe,” Trump went on.  “They’re put in the backs of cars or vans or trucks. They don’t go through your port of entry.  They make a right turn going very quickly.”  Never mind that “more than a dozen experts in human trafficking told The Washington Post and the Toronto Star they had not witnessed or heard of such an episode.” (“Unfounded Arguments We’ve Heard Before,” By Linda Qiu and Michael Tackett, The New York Times. Jan. 26, 2019)

Most telling here is President Trump’s emphasis:  “It’s the worst level – human trafficking – in the history of the world.” A “fact check” reveals that “millions of Africans were forcibly enslaved and trafficked during the 15th and 18th centuries.” (Ibid)  Trump’s knowledge of history is walled in by his racism and xenophobia.

In spite of the above contrary evidence, President Trump insists on building a wall at the Mexican border to protect America from an “invasion” of “very bad people.”  He then carried out his threat to shut down the government until Congress approved the $5 billion for his wall.  The partial shutdown led to 800,000 federal workers being laid off – including air traffic controllers and airport transportation security workers.  The longer the shutdown the longer the lines of passengers being screened at airports, as fewer transportation security staff showed up to work without pay. Unpaid air traffic controllers took a second job to make ends meet, which impacted their concentration in the towers, and others stopped working for financial reasons.  And the lack of controllers led to the delaying and grounding of planes.

As PresidentTrump continued his partial shutdown, the skies because not so “friendly.” The New York Times reported that “unions representing air traffic controllers, pilots and flight attendants offered an urgent warning on Wednesday that the lengthy government shutdown had created serious safety concerns for the nation’s air travel system.”  In a joint statement, the presidents said, “In our risk averse industry . . . we cannot even calculate the level of risk at play, nor predict the point at which the entire system will break.” (“Should You Be Worried About Flying? What We Know About Air Travel During the Shutdown,” By Patrick McGeehan and Thomas Kaplan, Jan. 24, 2019.  In the face of this gravewarning, Trump declares that he will shut down the government again if a bipartisan committee does not fund his wall.

After 35 days, the longest shut-down in U. S. history ended on January 25 – just a little over a week before the Super Bowl in Atlanta, who’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world’s busiest airport.  Having already endangered and incensed millions of air travelers with his partial government shutdown, President Trump faced a far greater crisis as Super Bowl Sunday approached.  With 75,000 fans expected to attend the game, and thousands of others visiting the city, and over 100 million watching on TV, the dangers and inconvenience presented by Trump’s federal shutdown would have a negative rippling effect across the country.   With his poll numbers slipping even further, if his shutdown led to any airplanes crashing or a terrorist attack because of a lack of security, he and his Senate Republican enablers would be flushed down the toilet in the 2020 elections.

It is here that the phony patriotism masking President Trump’s government shutdown is seen.  He called black National Football League players “sons’ of bitches” who should be “fired” for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem – their kneeling a form of protest to protect people of color from a rash of police violence.  Trump himself, however, has no problem grounding air planes and endangering millions of travelers to protest the withholding of money for a wall that separates people.

President Trump’s wall makes a mockery of what America is supposed to stand for: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  The wretched refuse from your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  Trump’s patriotism consists of a wall.   It is time to show him the door.

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Rev. William E. Alberts, Ph.D., a former hospital chaplain at Boston Medical Center, is both a Unitarian Universalist and United Methodist minister. His new book, The Counterpunching Minister (who couldn’t be “preyed” away) is now published and available on Amazon.com. The book’s Foreword, Drawing the Line, is written by Counterpunch editor, Jeffrey St. Clair. Alberts is also author of A Hospital Chaplain at the Crossroads of Humanity, which “demonstrates what top-notch pastoral care looks like, feels like, maybe even smells like,” states the review in the Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling. His e-mail address is wm.alberts@gmail.com.

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