There is grave danger in President Donald Trump’s latest ploy to arouse his political base by threatening to banish “millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.”
Trump tweeted out his favorite bait yesterday on the eve of his official re-election rally today in the critical state of Florida.
The tweet and the message, however, are more than the rancid red political meat he serves up regularly to a voter base that seethes anti-immigrant intolerance,
By threatening something the U.S. government cannot deliver on without an outright declaration of martial law, Trump flirts with creating panic among the 11 million immigrants living in the United States without visas and other credentials.
This is exactly what Aurora and similar governments fight so hard against: driving illegal immigrants into the shadows and creating a community of crime.
Police from Aurora and other cities across the country have regularly warned that pushing illegal immigrants out of the open makes them ripe for criminals who know victims won’t call police. It means that illegal immigrants won’t call police when they’re witnesses to crimes. And it means that illegal immigrants will go to great lengths to avoid any contact with the government.
It does not mean they will leave the country.
Instead, they will become victims of dubious “employers” who pay them gouged wages and often steal even those. That, in turn, drives down the legal wage for labor in the metro area, already so low that U.S. citizens here cannot survive on it.
It means that if your car is damaged in even a minor traffic accident in a parking lot with an illegal immigrant driver, the chances are high that they’ll bolt from the scene as they flee to avoid contact with the police.
These are the facts about illegal immigration:
• There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, greater Aurora is home to about 130,000 illegal immigrants.
• Many of these immigrants are integrated into our communities. They have jobs. They own cars and homes. They make more than $60 billion a year from U.S. businesses. They have children in schools. They spend money in the community.
• Business groups and more than a few industries know these immigrants are critical to their operations. Many metro businesses can’t find employees even with illegal immigrants boosting the work force. Removing these people from the workforce would be disastrous to the U.S. economy.
• Deporting illegal immigrants is far from a simple matter. Many families consist of citizens and non-citizens, many with varying degrees of legality. If the father of a family of six is deported, why force his American wife and perhaps three-of-six documented children to live here in anguished poverty and on the government dole?
• The cost of rounding up, collecting from jails, housing, processing and deporting millions of immigrants would be astronomical. Even proponents admit that. The federal government has tried valiantly to boost its border control and ICE force before, only to find out how difficult, ineffective and expensive it is.
• The vast majority of illegal immigrants have come here legally as visitors. They do not “sneak” across the border.
The most important fact of all? Only reasonable, realistic, humane and comprehensive immigration reform will solve the problem.
The United States cannot have an “open border,” allowing any and all to come and do as they please. Ethical immigration reform proponents must compromise with anti-immigrant political forces, creating realistic limits and enforceable and enforced rules for immigration, or no reform will ever occur.
American jobs are what entice immigrants to live here illegally, and managing American employers is key to a solution to illegal immigration.
The nation needs a system that heavily penalizes businesses that employee undocumented workers. It must be a system that allows immigrants to work here legally without having to be citizens. It must be a program that allows a path to citizenship for those who play by rules.
The so-called Senate Gang of Eight and others have come close to enacting comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the causes of illegal immigration, not the symptoms. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet was part of that bi-partisan group that offered a reasoned and rational way forward. That’s the place to start again.
Trump, his histrionics, his wall, his divisiveness, his deceit and his perverse politics aren’t the answer. They’re part of the problem.
Congress must stand firm and bi-partisan against the Trump administration’s misguided ploy to expand the humanitarian crisis it’s already created by using the country’s immigration dilemma as a sordid political indulgence.