Trump’s Border Obsession is Gutting Our Response to the Coronavirus
Donald Trump has been and will always be obsessed with the border and immigration. He launched his presidential campaign with promises of a border wall and racist claims against Mexicans and began his presidency with a Muslim ban. Throughout his Presidency, he’s consistently tried to spin real crises we face at home (like the opioid epidemic) into problems that can be solved by more walls and fences. While we face the worst crisis in a generation, instead of leading America, Trump is Tweeting that he will ban all immigration. Make no mistake. That has nothing to do with stemming the spread of COVID-19 or protecting Americans jobs, it’s just been his goal from day one. And by blaming others and refusing responsibility, he has caused thousands of Americans to die.
Trump spent the early days of the crisis ignoring the advice of his own experts to ramp up testing, increase hospital capacity, safeguard reserves of essential equipment, and recommend social distancing. We now know that if the President had heeded their advice even one week earlier, it could have helped reduce deaths in this country by up to 60 percent.
Instead, Trump pushed his own agenda. He closed the border with Mexico when the US had a higher infection rate than our southern neighbor. He ordered the border patrol to turn away asylum seekers without any fair chance to make their case, including those who arrived months ago but were illegally forced by Trump to wait in Mexico. He insisted on calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus” in a xenophobic attempt to put blame elsewhere. When a reporter asked him about rising domestic violence levels in sheltering households, he eagerly and nonsensically tried to change the subject to “Mexican violence.”
The virus is Trump’s latest excuse to abuse children and their families fleeing horrific conditions in their own country. His administration is using the virus to keep asylum-seeking children, who’ve been stuck in US custody for months, detained indefinitely at the border. All this despite the fact that the law says they should be cared for by the Department of Health and Human Services or placed with family members here. The list goes on and on of ways Trump and his administration have failed in their public health response and used a pandemic as an excuse to further their draconian and racist immigration agenda.
Trump’s political obsession has hurt everyone. While he and his administration were incessantly calling for greater funding for the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration and border enforcement agencies and raiding other pots of money to fund a useless wall, he was also gutting the pandemic response teams that actually could have protected us.
Trump continues to use the border as a political prop. Just this week, he patted himself on the back for the travel restrictions he placed on Chinese travel back in January, even though he squandered any time he may have bought by his refusal to abide by the recommendations of scientists and public health experts at home. Moreover, his travel ban didn’t even work with more than 430,000 travelers coming to the US from China after the ban took effect.
Trump blaming others has weakened the nation as state and local officials, health care workers, and so many others across the country do the hard work of responding to this crisis. We are coming together in this crisis and looking out for one another despite Trump. From day one, his horrific immigration and border agenda has shown he’s capable of only misdirection and blame—and the fact that he’s using a moment of national crisis to further scapegoat immigrants and target them for harm is un-American and unforgivable.