Columns, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Avoiding the issues: Trump blames the opioid epidemic on immigrants

President Trump attacked Boston for its status as a sanctuary city Monday during a speech addressed to a crowd in New Hampshire. According to our president, sanctuary cities are responsible for causing the opioid epidemic. He demanded Congress stop granting federal funding to these cities, the intent of which are to be safe havens for undocumented immigrants fearful of deportation.

But, as we all know, the “drug addiction crisis” is known for plaguing communities across the New England area, irrespective of if they’re sanctuary cities or not. Trump made this statement to yet again ostracize and place blame on outsiders for causing problems in this country.

No matter the circumstances, the president finds a way to frame issues affecting the nation in a way that wouldn’t involve responsibility on his behalf, and instead casts blame on people who don’t fit his definition of an American. This, of course, is why these cities decided to protect its immigrants and declared themselves as sanctuary cities in the first place.

Drawing a false association between the drug epidemic and sanctuary cities is yet another example of this administration’s agenda being riddled with misinformation and distrust toward immigrants.

It’s dangerous when the president of the United States delivers statements that simply aren’t true.

Claiming a correlation between two distinctly separate issues on an ungrounded assumption is inappropriate and perpetuates the cycle of false information being circulated in our society. Trump administration officials have made it clear that they have no problems with alternative facts — but only when these facts come from them.

When they’re delivered by a liberal news source, they are labeled wrong and fake. There are many supporters of the president who believe what he says and consume that information at face value, without wondering if it’s true or not. And they’re somewhat justified in thinking that their president would make speeches that espouse the truth to seek positive change for this country — not false beliefs that align with their agenda.

This isn’t the first time Trump has used immigrants as scapegoats. By constantly engaging in this kind of rhetoric, he is effectively instilling the fear of outsiders into Americans. While the opioid crisis affects a lot of places in Massachusetts, it seems to stand out more in cities with marginalized communities. Predominantly white cities that are suffering from the devastating effects of the crisis aren’t getting the same attention as cities notorious for having a majority Hispanic or African-American populations.

Trump suggesting that the protection of immigrants facilitates the crisis is highly xenophobic, but also helps him evade the real crux of the crisis. Thousands of Americans die each year from the crisis, but that has not prompted any substantial federal assistance in the crisis. Even more, Trump’s request to block funding could potentially aggravate the crisis and is the opposite of working to find solutions the crisis. A portion of federal money likely funds scientific research and studies on the opioid crisis, and many cities rely on this federally mandated funding to solve the epidemic.

Additionally, this correlation disrespects those who turned to the drug simply because they were seeking relief. There is no criminal way to enter addiction, and these criminals are not exclusively immigrants in this country. Removing immigrants from these cities would not magically solve the crisis. Instead of improving addiction centers, the administration has decided not to solve the problem and is using an easier, harmful approach to the crisis.

Trump’s statement in his speech does not come as a surprise. Remarks like these have been coming from this administration ever since the start of his presidential term, and even during his campaign. It’s a sad reality we have to live in, and they ultimately make the leader of the free world look foolish and do not accomplish any good for the country.

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