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Swamps and S**tholes

February 9, 2018

The recent chaos reigning in Washington, DC and our federal government illustrates very well the ineptitude of the leadership displayed by our President and the Congressional Leadership of both House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority leader McConnell. The dustup created in a meeting which was supposed to resolve a logjam regarding the ambiguous status of the Dreamers ( those protected from deportation under the Obama policy of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA). This ambiguity became more urgent recently when President Trump vowed to end the policy forthwith unless Congress did its job of legislating a solution by early March..

There is something to be said for getting Congress to end its refusal to act on immigration reform. As long ago as 2013, the Senate managed to pass a bipartisan bill aiming to do just that, but it died in the House because Speaker Boehner refused to even bring it to the floor for a vote due to the fact that a majority of House Republicans would not support it. The need for comprehensive immigration reform has been evident for decades and served as a major campaign point for Candidate Donald Trump in running for his current position. Demonizing and misrepresenting immigrants as stealing jobs from hard working Americans, being violent members of drug cartels and violent street gangs, as well as budding terrorists in training, allowed Trump to portray himself as a string voice seeking to rectify major societal problems for many of his backers while pointing out the failing of will on the parts of establishment politicians in both Congress and the Obama Administration.

When the President allegedly bemoaned the notion that a vast number of those seeking legal immigrant status here come from Central American, Caribbean and African nations (referred to in most reputable accounts at the time as “sh*thole” nations) rather than more civilized (read predominantly white) nations such as Norway, the stage was set for another unproductive political bluster resulting in continued inaction. The understandable international outrage over the President’s remarks, regardless of the half-hearted denials that he actually made those inflammatory remarks at all or they were exaggerations made by his political opponents (of both parties) just added to the fact that the President was withdrawing support from a compromise deal at the behest of hardline immigration opponents both within his Administration and in Congress.

The nations he has mentioned as being “sh*thole” nations include nations in Africa and in this hemisphere where people have sought to come to this country for totally understandable reasons. Many live in countries with extremely oppressive regimes, rife with violence, poverty and/or recently subjected to devastating natural disasters and/or military conflict. People in general do not want to uproot their families and move thousands of miles just to become petty criminals or even terrorist masterminds. They want to shed themselves and their loved ones of hindrances to their health and wellbeing, as well as future prospects for happiness and possibly even prosperity that do not seem attainable in their current circumstances. Many of them are suffering under circumstances either directly or indirectly attributable to foreign policy positions and military actions taken by the United States. The current Middle East turmoil and the effects of our War on Drugs are but two cases in point.

Why in hell would anyone want to leave Norway to come live in the United States on a permanent basis? They have much less poverty, economic inequality and violent crime than we have, while also suffering from the beneficial effects of far more universally accessible health care in a more equitable society. Yet our fearless leader wants to welcome wealthy immigrants who more closely resemble him ethnically and racially than those who would have greater incentive to want to move here and excel in becoming productive contributing members of our society and economy.

The immigration proposals made so far by the far right and Trump seek to not only resolve the issues of the DACA recipients, but also to uproot millions of other productive and otherwise non-criminal people who have lived and worked here for years without raping, robbing, assaulting or killing anyone. By singling out what they refer to as “chain immigration” as something to be discouraged, many of these people who profess a desire to encourage “family values” simultaneously seek to encourage people from other countries to cut all ties with their own families to immigrate here.

Over the long (or short, depending on your perspective) history of this country, new immigrants have often been maligned by those immigrants already here for many of the same reasons spouted by Trump and the radical right extremists calling for mass deportations, even stricter extreme vetting, providing ever stricter border militarization and harsher punishment for violations of the immigration laws. Racism and nativism provide only a smokescreen to distract from the fact that such arguments are specious at best. Facts do not bear out claims such as those that Trump has made in the past few years referring to Islamic, Hispanic and other people seeking to live here Demagoguery does not change reality, it merely channels frustrations into ill-advised and misdirected violence against innocent people who are doing nothing worthy of provoking it.

If American foreign policy and military interventionism/occupation were not a major contributor to the worldwide turmoil that causes so much forced and unforced mass migrations of people, some would still exist, no doubt. But far less would be evident if not for the massive weapons sales made for the profit of American arms manufacturers. If our government and military were not acting far and wide to keep repressive governments in place to help ensure easy access to natural resources available in those countries but desired for use here (including the resource of human labor), perhaps people would have less incentive to uproot themselves and move so far from their birthplaces.

In an ideal world (at least in my mind) immigration laws would be neither desirable nor necessary, as would national or any other artificial borders – let alone monstrous walls that do little but mar the landscape, waste precious resources and spread ill-will among people on both sides. Never have I heard talk from the Trump side of the immigration debate that sincerely addresses any humanitarian concerns for the people being targeted for apprehension, detention and deportation – only the largely fabricated fear-mongering of the non-existent evil that they are allegedly threatening those of us who were born here with. But then, the Trump side of this debate is also on the wrong side when it comes to compassion for young, old, disables, sick and/or poor people who live among us but can’t be legally deported. President Trump and his followers need to stop displaying the utter contempt they have been showing the vast majority of even their own voters and learn such values as compassion, humility, sympathy and empathy for the plight of others. Wage peace instead of trying to incite war. Help and heal others rather than hurting and stealing from them. Expand rights and regulate sources of harm, rather than restricting rights in order to satisfy greed of elites (such as Trump) at the expense of the rest of us – regardless of country of origin.

Don’t forget what these politicians are trying to do to us when November rolls around.

Further Suggested Reading:

On "Shithole Countries": Well, What Did You Expect From Our Racist President?

‘Sh*thole Countries’: Trump Uses the Rhetoric of Dictators

‘Completely Racist’: Edwidge Danticat on Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Remark Targeting Africa, Haiti

Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants

How Republicans normalized Donald Trump’s racism

In Norway, Trump’s comments on immigration rejected as backhanded praise

Racist Groups Are Loving Trump’s “Shithole” Comment: “He’s On The Same Page As Us”

Annotated: White House justification of President Trump’s racist remarks – Southern Poverty Law Center

Upon signing the Immigration Bill of 1965, President Johnson said that it was one of the most important acts of his administration

Our President, the White Supremacist

Norway to Trump: Keep Your Gold-Plated Sh*t Hole

Of “Shitholes” and Liberals

The U.S. Has Treated Poor Countries Like Sh*tholes for Decades

Ann Jones, Beware the Viking Hordes

Trump rails against immigrants from ‘sh*thole’ Africa and Haiti in angry Oval Office rant: report

The World Unites to Denounce Donald Trump’s Racist "S**thole" Comments

UN Condemns Donald Trump’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Remark as Racist

“Why Would We Come?” Norwegians Respond To Trump’s Immigration Offer

You Don’t Need a Telescope to Find a ‘Shithole Country’

Because Mr Trump… Your Country Caused These ‘Shitholes’

Why the Majority of Americans Despise Trump’s Washington

As Long As Rights Are Trampled, There Will Be Forced Migration


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One Comment
  1. Leslie Jhnson permalink



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