Coronavirus, Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Having a place in the U.S. is a human matter, not a political one

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that he was going to suspend immigration to protect American workers from additional economic fallout. In  fact, a spokesman for his 2020 campaign had the audacity to suggest that this move would be most protective of Black and Latinx communities. However, as the backlash from multiple business groups mounted, Trump walked back on this decision. As it stands, the Trump administration intends to stop issuing green cards to block off immigration to the U.S. for 60 days. 

Similar to the states trying to block abortion right now, Trump is exploiting a public health crisis to curry favor in the political arena. Backed into the corner by his own mistakes in handling COVID-19, this narcissist is yet again looking for a scapegoat to relieve himself of presidential duties – guiding a country through crisis. Unable to admit to himself that his glory days are long over, Trump has returned to the pillar of his 2016 campaign: xenophobia. And what a misguided decision that has been. 

First of all, the economic premise of this move is wrong. The skyrocketing unemployment rates are fundamentally a demand-side issue. People are staying at home to safeguard their health; they’re not outside spending on the goods and services that call for labor. And when companies don’t see that revenue coming in, they’re not going to hire — internationally or domestically. 

As Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and chief of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service said, “the thinking behind this order plays into the patently flawed idea that American prosperity is a zero-sum game.” Immigrants are not taking away and have never taken away American jobs. Pre-coronavirus, they and their potential employers were subjected to certified processes that verified that there weren’t Americans who could fill the post. In fact, they are often doing the work Americans themselves are unwilling to do, like that of essential workers right now. 

These are positive contributions to a system that serves citizens before and significantly more than it does immigrants. Even the suggestion that there is an economic downside associated with immigrants is a complete farce. They pay taxes, they fill in gaps when there are labor shortages in local economies and they bolster the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. But, we’re not going to convince a president who doesn’t believe in facts and sturdy research. 

Right now, we should be pointing our fingers at the stupefyingly rich CEOs who have sent jobs abroad, whose eyes are glued to the bottom line — these are the people who sacrificed Americans. Also, since we’re moving the goal post, why don’t we examine the politicians who have empowered them? These are the very people who excessively harp on the fact that “America is a country of immigrants” when it holds political sway. Now we have radio silence. 

Furthermore, if there is any semblance of a real public health motive, this temporary ban on immigration is an inefficient solution. What will drastically worsen the virus’ spread is not travel or immigration, but protesting the loss of personal liberties en masse, a lack of test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment, and re-opening economies too soon.  

Banning immigration will accomplish nothing in terms of mitigating a disaster unfolding within our borders. Trump’s decision is a textbook case of xenophobia that cannot even be called a band aid solution. 

Logically speaking, it’s other countries who should be banning travel and immigration from the U.S. Just one glance at our statistics is evidence enough to prove that being in this country right now offers no guarantee of safety. But at least in the cloud of American hegemonies, we’ve finally earned our number one position this time. 

The immigration process is already extremely strenuous, and the very real risk of contracting coronavirus is an additional mental burden. It’s inhumane to strip these individuals of their humanity and to demagogue in this moment. These people are coming here to innovate our society and to reconnect with their families. This administration has essentially launched a full-out war on our legal immigration system. What begins as a temporary ban will undoubtedly have long-term consequences for this gate-keeping nation. 

To the American workers who Trump is supposedly loyal to, all he’s doing is pandering. You’re not his top priority and after this is all over, you will still struggle to stay afloat in some ways. America is truly broken. 

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