Donald Trump wants to “Make America great again!” in 2016, and he decided early on who does and doesn’t fit into that plan of greatness.
At his announcement to run, Trump, a billionaire tycoon known for his NBC show “The Apprentice,” made his reservations against Mexican immigrants clear because they are “bringing drugs,” “bringing crime” and that “they’re rapists.” Since then, major TV networks, department stores and celebrities have backed out of deals with him. However, according to the Associated Press, Trump argued what he really meant was for legal immigrants to not be disadvantaged by those coming illegally.
Not only did Trump say outright who he thinks America’s enemies are, he also perpetuated the stereotype that Mexican immigrants are inherently dangerous.
In addition to boycotting Macy’s for not carrying his clothing line and suing the network Univision for not broadcasting the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, Trump defended his cause again on Friday after a random, fatal shooting in a San Francisco tourist spot was committed by an immigrant illegally in the state.
But, Trump took Friday’s tragedy as proof of why the U.S. needs a walled border, calling it a “totally preventable act of violence.” The issue isn’t just Trump’s ignorance of cause and effect; it’s also the fact his empty arguments are already supported.
As Trump told his supporters, immigrants who come illegally hurt legal immigrants by taking jobs and not paying taxes — the tired points anti-immigration activists have long contended.
The real danger is that Trump’s line of thought may be backed by Republicans as true, as a Quinnipiac University and CNN poll found that Republicans support deportation over citizenship by 54 to 27 percent.
After President Barack Obama made a measure to excuse 5 million immigrants from deportation, giving deportation relief to adults with children born in the U.S., the opposition against immigration reform came to a head.
Despite the Republican backlash against Trump’s claims, the poll’s finding that fewer than half of Americans support a path to citizenship, with 35 percent believing immigrants should be required to leave, shows it’s not just Trump with a dim view of immigrants.
From an economic standpoint, allowing legal status to immigrants wouldn’t be disastrous. It could mean another $144 billion in federal, state and local taxes over 10 years, according to the Center for American Progress. It would also allow these workers to earn higher wages and contribute to the economy more than they can without citizenship.
These immigrants are not just money-makers, either. The Center for American Progress also addresses how they are often part of a family of documented immigrants, with nine million of these families having a child born in the U.S.
If anything, it shouldn’t be Trump’s obliviousness remembered from this mess. Instead, it should be a reminder to let go of these baseless, yet strongly held assumptions about immigrants, regardless of how aggressively they’re defended by those in power.
Isabelle Cavazos is a senior majoring in English and Spanish.