100 Days of Trump: Anti-Immigrant Rule of Law

Trump’s final main goal is to restore “security and the constitutional rule of law.” He, and many of his supporters, believe that America is in a state of terror. He intends to address this by repealing Obama’s executive orders, appointing new conservative judges to the Supreme Court, deporting all illegal immigrants, removing federal funding to cities that promise to act as sanctuaries for those illegal immigrants, and halting immigration from ‘terror prone’ countries. Many of these policies focus on keeping immigrants of certain ethnic backgrounds out of America and dismantling the work of the Obama administration.

Trump’s first plan is to repeal all of Obama’s executive orders, which Trump could easily do through his own executive orders. These range from creating commissions on climate change, to ecosystem restoration of the Golf Coast. Most notably, the programs that could repealed includes Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), a policy that grants amnesty to illegal immigrants who have grown up in America. Repealing DACA would cause millions of people to lose their legal basis to live and work in America. This would separate families and leave others with uncertain futures, creating a lot of tension and worry for millions of Americans.

An infographic explaining the steps required. http://www.ilgrp.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/DACA-infographic-copy-4-low-low-res-1024x791.jpg
An infographic explaining the steps required. http://bit.ly/2gb6b2c

Other executive orders aim to fight climate change and environmental issues, which if cancelled would be in line with Trump’s plan to end all funding to UN climate change programs. It seems unwise to blindly repeal all of president Obama’s executive orders. There are real consequences to repealing many executive orders, let alone all of them, and Trump’s zeal in pursuing such a path is representative of the great divide between Republicans and Democrats. It seems particularly counterproductive get rid of executive orders, such as the “Delegation of Function to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management” and other inoffensive measures merely because it was put in place by Obama. This sort of pettiness is the reason the current Congress is the least productive in recent history. A president who condones this attitude and refuses to see value across the aisle does not bode well for America’s ability to institute policies that will benefit all Americans.

Next, Trump wants to appoint a judge to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Trump’s list of 21 nominees show that he will elect a traditional conservative who the Republican party will approve of, which will lead to a conservative majority that could last decades. Republicans will then control the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government, which would provide less incentive for bipartisan policies. While Republicans do not have a super majority (two thirds majority), so they still need some Democratic support to amend the constitution or overturn a veto, they can still pass most legislation without any Democratic support. This could mean that many of Obama’s policies, Obamacare in particular, could be highly altered or repealed. Other controversial rulings of the past few years, such as same-sex marriage, could also be repealed under a conservative majority. Considering the previous lack of compromise between the two parties, the next four years will probably mean Republican legislation at every level, which effectively means millions of Americans will not have their views represented in the federal government. 

Next, Trump wants to cancel all federal funding to sanctuary cities, such as Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle. Sanctuary cities adopt local policies to not prosecute people for being undocumented immigrants. This varies depending on the city, but in most cases it means that law enforcement officials cannot ask people about their immigration status and may refuse to cooperate with federal detainee requests unless the person in question has a criminal record. Cutting funding could have a huge effect on sanctuary cities and force many cities to end their status, which would result in thousands more deportations. Much like repealing DACA, illegal immigrants who are seeking a path to citizenship who live and work in the U.S. would be sent home and in many cases separated from their families. Sanctuary cities are bracing for the consequences of potential budget cuts and vowing to maintain their status. It is unclear which cities would be effected by this policy were Congress to pass a bill. There is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, and as such it would be up to legislators to define how far reaching this definition would be. This policy, one among many, could put an end to a path to citizenship for those who are already living and working in the United States.

Pro-immigration rally in Washington D.C. https://flic.kr/p/ccfgv
Pro-immigration rally in Washington D.C. https://flic.kr/p/ccfgv

Trump’s targeting of illegal immigrants culminates in his proposal to deport all illegal immigrants and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back. Obama is already deporting illegal immigrants under the current immigration law framework. While sanctuary cities and DACA provide alternatives for illegal immigrants to stay in the country, the majority of illegal immigrants are sent home. In addition, rates of illegal immigration are in decline and more people actually went to Mexico than immigrated to the U.S. last year. It does not make sense for Trump to prioritize something that America is already doing. In addition, America needs its immigrants. The U.S. population replacement rate is declining, and there are not enough young people working to support social security for their own future. Besides, the U.S. has always depended on immigrants for innovation and economic prosperity. The other half of Trump’s policy is to stop issuing visas to countries that refuse to take back immigrants. These countries, like Afghanistan and Libya, refuse to take back their immigrants because they can barely support the people who remain in their country. The reason that these immigrants left their countries in the first place is because of political turmoil and conflict. Cancelling visas to these countries would only prevent people from visiting their families and do little to counteract the influx of migrants. This policy is both redundant and ineffective; the U.S. deports the vast majority of its illegal immigrants, and cancelling visas would be ineffective.

Finally, Trump wants to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions.” While this wording is vague, it will be likely enforced as an effective Muslim immigration ban. This would likely halt all immigration of Syrian refugees and others from war-torn regions. America has an obligation to the world to take in refugees who are fleeing conflict. Refugees have the right to seek asylum when their country is a victim of terrorism and conflict. The U.S. cannot sit idly by while Europe and the Middle East struggle to manage a refugee crisis. These are not people coming to America to enforce their own ideas; they are coming to America because their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. The Islamophobia that Trump and his followers espouse perpetuates the idea that all Muslims are terrorists. This is the sort of ideology that fuels extremism by refusing to accept Muslim Americans as an integral part of America. If we accept Syrian refugees, we can provide safe homes for displaced people, as well as strengthen America by welcoming diverse cultures. Trump’s policy represents the sort of fear mongering used by right-wing politicians that contributes to negative perceptions of Muslims and encourages violence and Islamophobia.

I don’t think America has ever lost its national security or constitutional rule of law, and if it did, it was through police brutality and racially motivated violence. Trump obviously has other ideas. Here, he promises to do many of the frightening things that his opposition has worried that he would throughout his entire campaign. First, repealing all executive orders is completely unprecedented, not to mention dangerous. These are usually the only safeguards that a president leaves behind when his term ends, and many are innocuous. They focus on climate change issues, healthcare, and emergency relief programs. To repeal them all is incredibly irresponsible and short sighted. Trump also has several plans to enable the deportation of as many illegal immigrants as possible. These plans will cause destruction of thousands of families. We are already deporting thousands of illegal immigrants every year. It does not make sense to spend money on a more aggressive plan. Furthermore, I believe that America should open it’s doors to refugees from the Middle East. It is hypocritical to deny refugees entry to America because we believe they are muslim extremists when in reality they are fleeing the same extremism we fear. We have the means and ability to provide them with a safe haven, and to deny them entrance because of their supposed extremism seems hypocritical and counter to American values.