Trump's misguided immigration tactics may doom GOP in midterms

Trump's misguided immigration tactics may doom GOP in midterms
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From the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign season back in the summer of 2015, when Trump announced his run for the Oval Office, he used the issue of immigration and border security as a blunt object with which to bludgeon his own Republican counterparts.

He made false claims, he used anti-immigrant language without ever offering a kernel of evidence behind his declarations. He famously accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals to the U.S. It worked back then. He became the Republican nominee.

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It also worked to deliver him the White House. He promised a big, beautiful border wall, deporting all the “illegals,” even getting rid of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

 

He used these themes to rile up a very specific anti-immigrant, conspiracy-minded voter fearful of all the demographic changes going on in the country, and eager for a group of people to blame for his or her lot in life. Trump delivered.

Without ever having to account for any of his falsehoods on his immigration claims, these voters focused on the issue of immigration, helping deliver him the White House.

It is no wonder that now, whenever Trump finds himself in a bind, which is often, and when he hears specific complaints from the leaders of his base that relied on him to keep his promise of building a wall and deporting all the undocumented immigrants, he responds.

No wonder he has embarked on a frenzy of public statements and hysterical tweets about the border, DACA, the Dreamers, blaming Democrats for not solving DACA, declaring DACA dead, blaming Obama and Hillary, claiming our country is being stolen and going off on unhinged tirades full of misguided declarations, untruths and outright lies.

But what else is new? The question is: Will it work again going into the midterm elections when Republicans are already concerned that there is a huge blue electoral wave forming that will come crashing on them in November?

Trump’s base is certainly loving his newly fueled anti-immigrant rants. All it took was an obscenity laced conversation with Anne Coulter and a weekend spent with conservative Fox News commentators like Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro for him to show his rawest nationalistic side.

That was inevitably followed by a tweet-a-thon and public declarations about militarizing the border, stopping the advancing “caravans” of immigrants coming up through Central America and Mexico, and getting Congress to change our “weak” border laws.

It is high time for some facts after being force-fed lies and misconceptions.

First off, let’s understand that anyone arriving today without documents to this country is not eligible for DACA. So when Trump says the “caravan” is coming here to take advantage of DACA, that is false. The White House spin is that smugglers try to entice immigrants to cross with the promise of DACA, but these immigrants are savvy and news travels fast. It is White House spin to blame this activity on DACA.

The reality is that these "caravans” have been happening for more than five years. They are organized by activists from a group called “Pueblo sin Fronteras,” and they do it to travel for safety and to help make the case that these immigrants are mostly seeking relief from poverty, violence or political unrest. They know they will not quality for DACA. Many will try to gain asylum, which some will qualify for.

Most of them are women, children and families looking to find a way to survive as they flee from circumstances so horrible that they risk life and limb in pursuit of something better. They do not come here and greedily plot to live on government benefits.

Many of these families don’t even have the United States as their final destination. Some will seek to stay in Mexico and reunite their families there.

More importantly however, is that Trump is trying to create a crisis where there is none. Border crossings are at an all-time lowCrime in cities near the border is at an all-time low.

There has been a spike in arrivals in the last month, because this is the time of year when these “caravans” and big groups of people try to come over because of the reasons stated earlier.

Immigration from Mexico to the United States is net-negative and has been since the Obama administration when a record amount of resources were put toward border security and Mexico experienced an economic boom and a surge in their middle-class ranks.

Lastly, it is important to note that it has been Democrats that have bent over backward to find a solution for the Dreamers, which 90 percent of Americans believe is the right thing to do. Trump never wanted a “bill of love” or to take care of these kids. He has always and will always continue to use them as a political pawn.

In fact, Democrats offered Trump all of the $25 billion for his misguided wall, which many Republicans admit would be a waste of taxpayer money, in exchange for citizenship for the 1.8 million Dreamers. Trump turned that down.

It is on him that he has no funding for the wall. It is on him that Dreamers live in limbo and fearful of deportation at any time. It is on him that that the American people are being treated like dupes by a president who lies to them in order to implement misguided policy only to placate the likes of Anne Coulter and Sean Hannity.

It will be on Trump as well as the Republicans when they lose the House and possibly the Senate because they stood idly by while the commander in chief denigrated immigrants, wasted precious resources and lied to the American people with no one holding him to account.  

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.