By Kica Matos
Earlier this week it seemed as though negotiations over the future of the 800,000 young immigrants formerly protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (“DACA”) had finally turned a corner. During a partly televised conversation between the White House and a bi-partisan group of legislators, Trump surprised many by not only endorsing a legislative plan to protect immigrant youth, but expressing support for broader immigration reform stating that “If you want to take it that further step, I’ll take the heat. I will take all the heat. You are not that far away from comprehensive immigration reform.”
What a difference two days makes. At a White House meeting yesterday to discuss further details of the bi-partisan plan Trump exploded when the topic turned to extending protections to those from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he asked.
And BOOM - there it was - our Racist-In-Chief laid bare his soul at the start of a weekend celebrating the history and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who once preached that we should judge people “not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
For those of us involved in the fight for immigrant rights, Trump’s comments – while deeply racist and vile – were not at all surprising. They affirm what we have been witnessing and fighting against since the start of his Presidency – the rapid advancement of a national immigration policy that is deeply infected by a white supremacist ideology.
Let us take a walk down memory lane and look at what has transpired over the last year:
· Executive orders banning Muslims and limiting the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.
· Executive orders expanding the number of immigrants considered a priority for deportation, increasing the number of immigration enforcement agents by the tens of thousands and mandating the construction of a wall between the US and Mexico.
· Skyrocketing rates of arrests of undocumented immigrants, nearly half of whom had no criminal history.
· The rapid expansion of a program notorious for its racial profiling that co-opts local police into carrying out immigration enforcement.
· The elimination of DACA.
· The elimination of Temporary Protected Status for those from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti and Sudan.
Trump’s policy changes have especially targeted programs that significantly benefit immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America. And here is what we have in front of us: efforts to reduce legal immigration, end family migration and eliminate the diversity visa lottery, a program that largely benefits immigrants from African countries and the Caribbean.
The totality of these policies can only lead to one conclusion: they are an effort to advance a racist agenda that seeks the whitening of America by radically revamping our immigration policies; criminalizing communities of color and slamming the door shut on future immigrants of color. This conclusion can also be drawn from Trump’s previous statements that: he wants a total ban on Muslims, Mexican immigrants are rapists, Nigerians live in huts, and all Haitians have AIDS. Leaving no doubt, yesterday he asked why we cannot have more Norwegians come to America.
And so, we must reject Trump and his policies. Members of Congress of both parties who oppose racism must work together forcefully to advance legislation to protect immigrant youth and reject the radically racialized Trump immigration agenda. Local officials must continue to advance protections for immigrants living in their communities as Trump’s racist agenda is implemented by ICE officers. And Americans from all walks of life must speak out, demanding an end to the nativist, extreme agenda being forged by this administration.
This is a defining moment in our nation’s history, and we must rise to the occasion. Let us loudly and forcefully reject Trump's bigotry. Let us double down on our demands for racial justice and the protection of immigrant youth and families. And, as we begin the long weekend in celebration of Dr. King’s legacy, let us take an active stance. Let us make our voices heard; and, let us remember, in his words, that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Sign this petition to demand Trump apologize for his racist remarks.
Kica Matos is the Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change.