Based solely on Donald Trump’s immigration record alone, you would think finding a Trump supporter among immigrant communities like Hawaii’s own Filipino community would be hard and way off the beaten track as we enter the General Election.
But Trump has his followers, even here. Some immigrants seem to think Trump’s war on immigrants is not really directed at them but at illegals; or a more heartless but somewhat common outlook for other immigrants (even freshly arrived ones) is that their personal immigration story (themselves and family) is completed – so why worry about other future immigrants.
Then there are others who see immigration as a secondary or peripheral issue and they happen to like Trump on other areas. To them, they’re willing to overlook his grotesque, mean spirited attacks on immigrants because these pro-Trumpers (some of them secret supporters) receive favorable tax breaks. Or there are other supporters who belong to a local evangelical church and have been indoctrinated to believe Trump really can do no wrong. That’s what they do there, right? Talk about Trump – the reformed sinner – playing some prophetic role in turning back modern America to circa 1950s America, when simplicity, God, and the American flag waved in front of many households in the
More hostility against immigrants ahead
But before closing the door and ignoring Trump’s massive makeover on the U.S. immigration system in just his first term (not convincing enough not to vote for him), immigrants (even fully naturalized ones) should reconsider, because who knows where he’d be willing to go given a second term, especially since approval ratings would be the last thing on his mind with no third term in the wings.
Already about midway of his first term, remember that Trump expanded his anti-immigrant policies beyond the originally targeted illegals (the wall, cancelled DACA, family separation at the border) to include reforms to limit legal immigration (deny asylum seekers, reduce immigration entry by half, reduce visa holders, both skilled and unskilled workers visa, raise legal immigration requirements in English proficiency-education, change the entire immigration system to a merit-based, calculated system and veer away from family-reunification based immigration, limit green cards and citizenship to immigrants who receive government assistance, even temporarily suspending for 60-days most immigration and processing).
And if that wasn’t enough — Trump already showed his true colors and went beyond the pale into political absurdity when tried to go after already naturalized citizens. By the way, a special new section within the Justice Department is still doing precisely that – looking for already naturalized citizens (some who have been citizens for many years) and hitting them up with deportations for fraudulently obtaining or failing to disclose information when applying for citizenship. Imagine the fear even naturalized citizens have had to endure in Trump’s first term, thinking if they had made a mistake or overlooked something years ago, that they too could face deportation.
In 2017, 2,500 new denaturalization investigations opened. In 2018, the DHS created the Los Angeles office for denaturalization; and in 2020, the DOH opened a department dedicated to just this pursuit. Both former Republican and Democrat presidents have avoided denaturalization for the most part and only sought it in extreme cases. Immigration experts say this is one area Trump could expand further if reelected.
David Bier, immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute was correct when he said, “Bottom line is that if you can ever lose your citizenship for any reason, you don’t have equal rights and aren’t a real citizen.”
The facade of going after only illegals already has been lifted. That was a 2016 Election deception.
We see most unfair changes (or attempts) to immigration has been focused on “legal” immigration. Should Trump get a second term, this will most likely be the area of focus.
The traumatization of immigrants will continue. His nativist platform will shape policy and make it even more difficult for legal immigration. His hate rhetoric will continue to embolden racist Americans to express hatred openly toward immigrants and people of color. Data shows hate crimes have been on the rise since Trump’s inauguration.
Naturalized immigrant or not, neither would shield you from racist vitriol, physical or verbal, you might encounter in your daily living going about your way at public spaces.
Overall toxicity and a feeling of not truly belonging will be pervasive in some communities, which would be turning back progress of diversity and acceptance.
And the big question mark is no one really knows how much farther Trump would be willing to go down the rabbit hole. What new hateful policy would he shove down via Executive Order. The new, soon-to-be 6-3 Conservative United States Supreme Court majority (Trump nominated three of them) would make it easier for Trump in a second term. And he’s already had success in pushing the boundaries on immigration at SCOTUS his first term.
And voting Americans must never forget the immoral policy that amounted to government-sanctioned child abuse, of separating children (as young as toddlers) from their mother or father at the border. That was arguably the most un-American, inhumane act committed during Trump’s first term.
Immigration should matter high up among other top issues
Besides the economy, usually a singular issue like immigration wouldn’t make or break a presidential candidate. There are other issues: how well has the President handled/is handling the COVID-19 pandemic; how is he responding to BLM, policing reforms and civil unrest; what about climate change. Is the president an autocrat? Has he been good for the economy? And on and on.
But back to immigration — immigrant communities ought to judge whether Trump should be given a second term based on his immigration policies. As immigrants, we owe that at least to ourselves and our community.
If our own immigrant communities throughout the U.S. are not caring and not making it a top issue given Trump’s extraordinary efforts to make immigrants lives a living nightmare – why should any other group care, either?
Make it a top issue and go out to vote.