Wall nut

8. He has pursued a disastrous border policy

DT hates immigrants. One might be more specific and say that he hates immigrants who aren’t independently wealthy white Europeans, but there aren’t very many of those who are itching to move to the United States, so the qualification is unnecessary. Over the last four years, he has transformed U.S. immigration policy from flawed but functionality into something that is, by any measure but that of the xenophobe, a complete failure. From his Islamophobic ban on Muslim immigrants to his terming African nations “shithole countries,” his racism has been front and center as he tore down tenet after tenet of longstanding American policy on immigration. Among the ruinous actions he’s taken, none has been more malign than the strategy he has pursued along the border with Mexico.

Like the swindler he is, DT promised his crowd something he knew he couldn’t deliver: a wall. To be fair, he has delivered bits and pieces of the wall, mostly in the form of butt-ugly, environmentally devastating steel fences that are shoddily built and easily breached by scaling or tunneling. One section is so unstable that it may soon topple over. Others are already rusting out. Some sections were built by diverting funding from the military, meaning that our armed forces are less well-equipped to deal with actual threats, should any arise. Others were privately financed in haphazard, illegal ways, including one section that actually blocked access to a government-owned dam. Oops! Still others were supposed to be privately financed, but the donations sent by thousands of gullible DT supporters were instead used for boats, SUVs, and other luxury items by a group of crooks, notably former DT aide Steve Bannon. But the wall is nowhere near finished, and even if (God forbid) DT gets another four years, it never will be. No one with the slightest clue thinks it will be.

Nor should it. The whole idea of the wall is asinine—a cynical ploy to exploit the racist fears of uninformed Americans who mistake anecdote for evidence in thinking that immigrants from south of the border are taking our jobs, raping our daughters, and otherwise proving detrimental to our blissful lives in the land of the free. News flash: two thousand miles of rugged terrain, replete with deserts, cliffs, rivers, and ravines cannot be secured by walls or fences. Not at a cost that can be borne, at any rate. Writing such a project into public policy is the worst kind of boondoggle: it would enrich a few people and impoverish a whole nation, and it would fail to achieve its purported objective.

Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans…these and other people from Latin America will continue to migrate to the U.S. as long as conditions in their home countries are so dire that they have no choice but to leave. Some of those conditions are the result of American foreign policy. And, as noted previously in this blog, the number of migrants will increase as the effects of climate change add to the political and economic woes of equatorial regions. Rather than wasting a dime on the fool’s errand of trying to block them at the border, we should receive them with as graciously as we know how, make them safe and welcome in their new home, and provide them with a path to citizenship. History shows that if we do that, they and their children will rapidly become integrated into the fabric of American society, and they will enrich our culture in the process. Meanwhile, we should correct our foreign policy to promote democracy abroad, instead of thwarting it, while increasing the southward flow of money, technology, and expertise to make other countries more livable; doing so will reduce the flow of migrants to a trickle. No way will any of that happen with DT in the White House.

The land of the lost

In addition to his half-assed attempts to build the wall, DT has waged war on immigrants in other ways. He has forced those seeking political asylum to apply for it before they enter the country—an impossibility for many, if not most, migrants fleeing life-threatening situations at home. He has overseen the transformation of ICE into a nightmarish gang of unaccountable thugs who use any means necessary to snatch undocumented migrants from their homes, workplaces, places of worship, then detain them in abominable conditions where they are subject to arbitrary beatings, torture, and medical malpractice. He has ordered the deportation of people who, while technically undocumented, have lived in the U.S. since infancy and don’t even speak the language of their mother country.

Most chillingly, he has instituted a strategy of separating migrant children from their parents. Sometimes the parents are deported, sometimes the kids, sometimes both—but always separately. This was a calculated change in policy designed to deter migrants with children from trying to enter the U.S. The result was the severing of all connection and communication between family members with no means of finding each other. To this day, hundreds of parents don’t know where their children are, and hundreds of children have been placed in unsafe conditions. Children held in cages, without bedding or medical care or even so much as toothbrush. Toddlers crying in the night for the parents and siblings they may never see again. This is the legacy of DT.