Trump’s Immigration Policies Spare No One
It’s not news that Donald Trump thrives on division. His “America First” agenda hinges on the lie that brown foreigners are stealing jobs from the white working-class and that only he stands as the champion of those disaffected Americans. He needs voters to see the world as a zero-sum battle—with immigrant communities as one of the most cited enemies. It’s xenophobic, racist, and patently untrue, but it’s built Trump a reliable and dependable base of support.
So predictably, Trump has worked to position the COVID-19 pandemic as his latest “us” versus “them” identity-fueled wedge issue, this time by using concerns about public health and the economy as an excuse to implement the most draconian of the administration’s hardline-immigrant polices. But in his efforts to manipulate the anxieties of the country, and to ride the seeds of division to re-election, his cruel policies are hurting not just the immigrants he targets and scapegoats but also American citizens hit hard by this indiscriminate pandemic—ensuring there are no winners under Trump’s failed leadership.
Case in point: Trump made sure 2 million American citizens wouldn’t get stimulus checks they so desperately needed. Why? Solely because they reside in a family with immigrants. Working with his allies in Congress, he ensured that nearly six million US citizen children living in mixed status families were excluded from federal safety nets. The President and his party tried to spin attempts to rectify this blatant exclusion as a “handout” to undocumented immigrants—completely ignoring that their actions are crushing American citizens for no cognizable purpose other then penalizing them for the status of the spouse with whom they built a family or the parents to whom they were born.
The stimulus checks are just the latest high-profile example of American citizens being harmed in the wreckage of Trump’s myopic and self-interested war against immigrants. Trump has been at this since he took office. In recent months, he instituted his new “public charge” rules that penalize legal, taxpaying immigrants for utilizing programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—threatening them with deportation. Like the exclusion of mixed-status families from the stimulus recovery program, Trump’s hastily expanded definition of who should be considered a “public charge” completely ignores its impact on American citizens. Previous administrations specifically avoided including programs like Medicaid and SNAP in determining who qualifies as a “public charge” because of fear that it would stop “eligible aliens and their families, including U.S. citizen children, from seeking important health and nutrition benefits” to which they are legally entitled. Past Democratic and Republican administrations were cognizant of this detrimental impact, not only on potential lawful immigrant recipients, but on public health and the general welfare. As he has done in so many contexts, President Trump has completely ignored these concerns—or worse, intentionally leaned into them.
Trump’s public charge policies have impacted more than 7.6 million American children and 4.7 million US citizen adults, dissuading many taxpaying families from applying for the programs they need (and to which they are legally eligible) in these anxious times. The President’s harsh and mean-spirited rules are jeopardizing the well-being and development of American children, who with lacking health coverage and poor nutrition are now at greater risk for poor academic outcomes and future economic insecurity. Our hard-hit local economies are also being harmed by reduced revenue from SNAP programs and an increased reliance on emergency rooms by the uninsured. And contrary to the picture painted by the President, immigrants contribute mightily to the American economy, and we all lose when those contributions are jeopardized.
At this moment in crisis, Americans have resolved to come together in the name of overcoming perhaps the greatest challenge we have or ever will face. We’ve channeled our efforts into keeping one another safe and beating this virus. Unfortunately, we have a president who cannot stop prioritizing his own electoral future, and the divisive tactics that give sustenance to his political base. And with his blunt and cold-hearted “America First” policies, he’s pummeled American citizens and put his own political survival over their needs.