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Letter: Immigration being used merely as a wedge issue by Republican Party
06222018 BORDER IMMIGRATION
Luther Johnson, of Phoenix, Az., demonstrates as a group of U.S. mayors hold a press conference outside the holding facility for immigrant children in Tornillo, Texas, near the Mexican border, Thursday, June 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

The Trump administration has instituted many policy changes regarding immigration. Many of its policy changes require detailed knowledge of the U.S. immigration system to understand, for example, eliminating “administrative closure” of removal proceedings, which often results in families being separated for years; or the new “public charge” rule, just published in the Federal Register. 

We have heard people are abusing the asylum system, but U.S. asylum law is highly complex, and most people from Latin America, even if they are fleeing for their lives, will not qualify for asylum. (Someone could literally be chased across the border by armed drug cartel members screaming vows to kill them if they ever return, and still not qualify for asylum.) 

Other changes, while technical in nature, are somewhat easier to comprehend, such as declaring that women fleeing domestic violence will no longer qualify for asylum. Or the elimination of Temporary Protected Status, taking away lawful status from over 300,000 law abiding people who have been legally living and working in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. Or taking away Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals from almost 700,000 people brought into the U.S. as children.

We have all seen disturbing images of children taken from their parents and locked up in detention centers. We have all heard that Mexico “sends” immigrants who are murders and rapists, as if Mexico rounds up undesirables and “sends” them here. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

President Donald Trump and Republican leadership know that their anti-immigrant rhetoric is wrong. Anyone with even a basic understanding of economics (and these guys have way more than a basic understanding of economics) knows immigrants don’t take away jobs from U.S. citizens because there is not a finite number of jobs; that immigrants exert very little, if any, downward force on wages because they are consumers in addition to being producers; that immigrants use government services and commit crimes at lower rates than native-born U.S. citizens; and that billions of dollars immigrants contribute to the economy far outweighs their cost.

There are two related reasons the Trump administration and the Republican party attack immigrants. First, that message is designed to appeal to people who don’t understand economics but do understand they don’t like immigrants. Second, — and Trump has admitted it in his tweets — by demonizing immigrants and using immigration as a wedge issue, the Republican Party has made it more likely immigrants will vote for Democrats if they ever become U.S. citizens. 

Unfortunately, what once was a Grand Old Party has been hijacked by wealthy people who use wedge issues to get votes from people who don’t understand economics, then give themselves tax breaks and pass economic policies designed to make themselves richer at the expense of the very people who voted for them. But it has always been easier to fool a person than it is to convince a person they have been fooled.

David Kennedy

Gainesville

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