From the first week of his presidency, Trump and his Administration have moved to remake U.S. immigration and refugee policy. The list is as long as it is extreme: imposing a ban on millions of Muslims; cutting refugee admissions; seeking billions of dollars for a border wall, deportation agents and detention centers; eviscerating immigration enforcement priorities; deporting long-settled immigrants regardless of equities; conducting “silent raids” against immigrants who complying with the law and checking in regularly with the government; eviscerating protections for Central American minors fleeing violence; using the specter of criminality to advance sweeping raids against immigrant youth; straining to punish local jurisdictions more interested in public safety than aiding and abetting mass deportation; seeking to slash legal immigration; ending DACA and plunging some 800,000 young immigrants into crisis; and now, dismantling protections for some 300,000 TPS holders from nations in no condition to accept their return.
The animating principle for these decisions is clear: keep out and kick out immigrants and refugees in an effort to reverse the demographic diversification of América. This witch’s brew of nativism and racism is the beating heart of this Administration. The Trump team – including Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon and John Kelly – has taken a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty. By their actions, they have shown themselves to be hostile to the foundational and aspirational notion of América as a land of welcome and opportunity for all, regardless of where you were born, the God you worship, the color of your skin, or the accent you speak with. The nativism at the heart of this Administration is waging war on the heart of the American experiment. Instead of E Pluribus Unum – Out of Many, One – this Administration seems determined to Make America White Again.
We need not stand by. We need to stand up. Americans of all backgrounds want to extend and defend our identity as a diverse, welcoming and strong nation. We need members of Congress – from both parties – to step up and step in. We need Congress to insist on accountability and balance, rather than writing blank checks for a mass deportation strategy. We need Congress to pass a clean Dream Act by the end of the year to put young immigrants on a path to citizenship. We need Congress to enact legislation to provide a permanent solution for TPS holders. And we need to continue until we have a modernized immigration system that legalizes undocumented immigrants, improves our legal immigration system and enforces our rules with a healthy respect for due process rights. That is not what this Administration is up to. Which is why we need to replace them with leaders that reflect our ideals and work to apply them in practice.
Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund.
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