Trump’s speech was nothing to applaud
© Getty

Last night, President Trump had very little to say to the Latino community, and what he did say wasn’t good.

Clearly he has taken some of the criticism he has heard to heart. He did not shout during his speech or talk about “American carnage,” but spoke in a calm and gentle way. He made nods to the Democrats and talked about working in a bipartisan manner. 

Yet his moderated tone and soft overtures do not make the policies he champions any less harsh. They are still the same policies he has been touting since the beginning of his campaign, and the justifications are still as hyperbolic and fictional as they’ve ever been.

By continuing to exploit the very real pain of some families, he continues to feed the fiction that undocumented immigrants are a singular threat to public safety. It’s just not true. Study after study has shown that the undocumented are less likely to commit crimes than other groups. 

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A study by the Migration Policy Institute found that 98 percent of the undocumented are otherwise law-abiding members of society. Yet by hyping the notion of a nonexistent wave of undocumented immigrants, he not only demonizes millions of people but uses it as an excuse to terrorize those very same people, their families, and their communities.

 

President Trump uses the art of distraction very well. By sending out signals that he would consider bipartisan immigration reform, he hid the real news in his speech—an assault on our existing legal immigration system. 

For months, Trump and his supporters have insisted that their problem is with “illegal” immigration, not legal immigration. But last night, he eviscerated our current system based on family reunification. Since when is allowing people to reunite with their loved ones outdated and detrimental to the interests of the United States? So much for family values.

President Trump continued with the fiction that immigration is a financial burden to Americans, and that a crackdown on the undocumented will save money and create jobs. 

Every credible study from think tanks, universities, and economists confirms just the opposite. Immigration reform would put trillions into our country’s coffers, while mass deportations will cost us trillions, plain and simple.

President Trump stated last night that he wants an immigration system that improves jobs and wages for Americans, strengthens our nation’s security, and restores respect for our laws. 

We wholeheartedly agree. 

However, if that is what he truly wants, he should be supporting comprehensive immigration reform, not the draconian policies he has been unveiling in the past few weeks.

At the end of his speech, President Trump spoke of unity and the common good. But his policies reflect a different reality. 

His harsh immigration orders will harm citizens and noncitizens alike. 

His repeal of Obamacare without a viable alternative will compromise the health care of millions of Americans. 

His belief that crime matters only when perpetrated by immigrants—not on immigrants—leaves millions of families vulnerable and afraid to go to the police. 

His abandonment of voting rights; his over-reliance on school choice as a panacea for better education, and his lack of policies to alleviate poverty speak volumes—just not to us.

Last night, President Trump painted immigrants with the same ugly, broad brush he used during the campaign. It was a slur then and it is a slur now.

And as for the other Latinos—the ones that are U.S. citizens or legal residents—Trump simply ignored them. 

Either they don’t matter to him or he thinks they don’t exist. An interesting point of view when it comes to the nation’s largest ethnic group, nearly 60 million people strong and growing every day. 

Forgive us if we don’t applaud.

Janet Murguía, President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza.


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