President Trump created the crisis of family separations and he is now using the more than 2000 children torn from their parents to coerce their parents into dropping legal asylum claims and force the entire family’s deportation. At the same time, Trump and A.G. Sessions are initiating new programs and regulations designed to make it extraordinarily difficult for anyone seeking to claim asylum or to immigrate legally from Latin America and other non-European countries. The Pentagon is building tent camps to house at least 20,000 people who will be held indefinitely while they await a decision on their immigration claims, yet no new resources are being provided for immigration judges or to speed up the broken process. As we write, Trump is demanding that asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants be deported without review by judges or recourse to the rule of law.
At its foundation, the story that Trump, Attorney General Sessions and the Republican hardliners tell about immigration is simply a present-day version of George Orwell’s BIG LIE. Media fact checkers have clocked him in at 6.5 “whoppers” per day. As Orwell foresaw, with continuous repetition the lies become the common narrative and the basis of policy, politics and action. Trump’s “Immigration Crisis” lies are amplified by Republican collaborators, Rush Limbaugh and Fox TV. We must call out these untruths or they become our reality. Trump has declared that his immigration policies will be the basis of the mid-term election.
Trump says there is a “crisis” and “mess” of illegal immigration at the Southwest border. He claims that immigrants (both legal and undocumented) commit more crimes and more horrendous crimes than those born in this country. He says that “illegal immigration costs the United States hundreds of billions of dollars each year” and that the immigration “mess” has only worsened over the last 20-25 years. He says that “illegal immigrants” are “animals” and “infesting” our society. He claims that “illegal immigrants” are rapists and murderers.
NONE OF THIS IS TRUE! The only crisis at the border is the one the Trump and Sessions created by imposing their “zero tolerance” policy. Even conservative think tanks report that immigrants, legal and undocumented, commit crimes at rates far lower than native-born citizens. The net economic effect of immigration is positive - immigrants contribute to Social Security, pay taxes and generate economic growth and opportunities. Immigrants are not taking jobs from U.S. citizens. Unauthorized crossings along the Mexico border are down sharply over the past two decades. It is true that MS-13 gang members commit terrible crimes, as do those born in this country, but this is a law enforcement problem not something that can be fixed by immigration policy.
The most dangerous aspect of Trump’s anti-immigrant attack is the broad demonization and dehumanization of immigrants as “animals” and the denigration of the desire to come to the US as “infesting” the nation. This language is fueling the appalling racist and intolerant attitudes of the Trump base. It is setting the stage for even more indecent policies and violence in the years to come.
WE MUST CALL OUT AND STAND UP AGAINST THESE LIES AND FALSEHOODS. The truth backed by verifiable facts must be our primary tool as we engage in conversation, protest and campaign. Speak truth to power today.
Call to Action
Our work demanding humanitarian action at the border and rational immigration reform is not over. Trump has simply changed the terms of his direct assault on immigrants, the truth and the rule of law. Because Trump himself says this is the battleground on which the mid-term elections will be won or lost, we must take action.
- The Families Belong Together Marchis planned for Washington, DC on Saturday, June 30. Sister marches are expected in dozens of cities across the country on the same day. Learn more here to find a march near you. “Show up and stand up” for decency in our nation’s immigration policy.
- Call your elected representatives – in Congress and state governments - from both parties and send the clear message that you are fed up with the onslaught of lies and falsehoods coming from the President and his administration. Tell them “there are problems but there is NO immigration crisis.” Tell your representatives that you tracking and fact checking their words as well as Trump’s lies. Ask them to address immigration reform in a humane and reasoned manner based on facts.
- Be an “upstander” for truth and accurate information. When you hear “Trump’s Big Lie,” don’t sigh “there he goes again.” Stand up and let your friends and neighbors know that there is accurate information out there. Take responsibility for spreading the truth.