By Carlton Joseph
As a naturalized citizen of the United States (US) I am disturbed at the current attacks on immigrants and especially the racist tweets from the current occupant of the white house. President Trump seems to be unaware how his pronouncements mirror Hitler’s Germany. Let me explain.
Prior to World War 1 the German government built a network of concentration camps to hold political opponents and those deemed undesirable. After the Poland invasion, the regime forced Jews into ghettos to segregate them from the rest of the population. These actions were a prelude to the “Final solution to the Jewish Question.”
Trump refused to accept a comprehensive immigration reform bill crafted by Senator Lindsay Graham in 2013, and a bipartisan plan to protect “Dreamers” from deportation in 2018. Instead he encourages a system that sees Latino immigrants held in cages, deemed to be criminals, rapists while and Trump never missing the opportunity to call them names designed to demean and dehumanize. Does he know or care that these tactics bear a striking resemblance to Germany 1933?
Recently, the administration’s proposal to stop illegal immigration; fully secure the border; and to overhaul the legal immigration system to attract the best and brightest from all around the world, failed to gain Republican support in Congress. Trump ignored them and announced that it will be the basis of his new immigration policy. The thrust of the plan involves redistributing annual visas to immigrants based on their employment skills rather than on family ties. I guess he has insured that his wife and her family got citizenship based on the “family ties” so it’s time to put a stop to this system.
Senate Democrats introduced an immigration proposal with four components: Increasing aid to Central America; creating additional ways for persons to seek asylum without having to make the dangerous overland trip to the border; addressing the backlog of asylum cases in immigration courts; and toughening penalties for child smugglers on both sides of the border.
Increasing aid to Central America is imperative since the US interventions in these countries have created the condition for the mass exodus. Most recent, the 2009 coup d’état in Honduras destroyed its political stability and transformed it into a country with the world’s highest murder rate and high levels of sexual violence.
I predict that this proposal will not be supported in the Republican controlled Senate. Graham is crafting a proposal that will prevent Central Americans from seeking asylum at the US border. This is against international law, but in Trump’s and the Republicans’ world, international law has no significance and does not apply to the US.
Just when I thought things could not get worst, it did. Trump tweeted to his sixty million Twitter followers that four members of Congress—Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib—four progressive Democrats, four women of color, should “go back” to the countries “from which they came” if they continued criticizing him. In effect, Trump made criticising him and his policies, a crime, punishable by expulsion from the country.
When asked if his message was racist Trump amplified his message saying, “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,”. And that’s what I say all the time. That’s what I said in a tweet, which I guess some people think is controversial—a lot of people love it, but if you’re not happy in the U.S., if you’re complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave. You can leave right now. Come back if you want. Don’t come back. That’s O.K., too. But if you’re not happy, you can leave.”
Never mind that 3 of these congresswomen were born in the US, and that blacks did not choose to come to America. We were not happy, we did not like it but we could not leave. We were hanged, beaten and forced to work without pay to create the most powerful and richest country on earth.
The four Congresswomen, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib have responded appropriately. Pressley called his the “occupant” of the White House who lacks grace, empathy and integrity. Omar insisted that action must be taken “when a president is openly violating the oath he took to the Constitution of the United States and the core values we aspire to. ”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hit the mark in this tweet: “When I was a little girl, my father took me to the Reflecting Pool here. He had me look at the Washington Monument, had me look at the Capitol, had me look at the entirety of the capital of our great country. And he looked at everything, and he pointed to all of it, and he said, “This belongs to all of us. This belongs to you, and it belongs to me.” And so, the first note that I want to tell children across this country is that no matter what the president says, this country belongs to you. And it belongs to everyone.”
These Congresswomen must be admired and supported by the marginalized 99% for their courage to speak up against Trump, especially when moderate party leaders like Pelosi, Biden and other status quo politicians refuse to stand up to him.