“Unlike other presidents, I keep my promises,” Trump boasted in a speech delivered on Saturday to the Republican Jewish Congress at a luxury hotel in Las Vegas. Many in the audience wore red yarmulkes emblazoned with his name. In his speech, Trump condemned Democrats for allowing “the terrible scourge of anti-Semitism to take root in their party” and emphasized his loyalty to Israel.
Trump has kept some of his promises. So far, he has kept every promise that he made to the Jewish community. Yet he has reneged on his promises to white America – the promises that got him elected in the first place. It is a betrayal of the highest order: millions of white Americans placed their hopes in Trump and wholeheartedly believed that he would be the one to make America great again. They were willing to endure social ostracism and imperil their livelihoods by supporting him. In return, Trump has turned his back on them and rendered his promises void.
The most recent example of this is Trump’s failure to keep his promise to close the border. On March 29, Trump threatened to close the border if Mexico did not stop all illegal immigration into the US. This would likely have been a highly effective measure given Mexico’s dependence on cross-border trade. Five days later, he suddenly retracted this threat and said that he would give Mexico a “one-year warning” before taking drastic action. He further claimed that closing the border would not be necessary and that he planned to establish a twenty-five percent tariff on cars entering the US instead.
Trump’s failure here is his alone. Closing the border could be accomplished with a simple executive order. It has happened before: Reagan ordered the closing of the border when DEA agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was murdered on assignment in Mexico in 1985, for instance.
Trump’s empty threats over the past two years have had real-world consequences, prompting waves of migrants trying to sneak into the country while they still have the chance. His recent move to cut all foreign aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador is another empty gesture that will probably have similar consequences. The funds directed to those countries were used for programs that provided citizens with incentives not to migrate elsewhere. (The situation was not ideal from an isolationist point of view, but a wiser man would have built the wall before cutting off the aid.)
The past two years have seen a surge in illegal immigration without precedent in the past decade. Since late December, the Department of Homeland Security has released 125,565 illegal aliens into the country. In the past two weeks alone, 6,000 have been admitted. According to current projections, 2019 will witness around 500,000 to 775,000 border crossings. Additionally, about 630,000 illegal aliens will be added to the population after having overstayed their visas. By the end of the year, more than one million illegal aliens will have been added to the population:
These projections put the number of illegal aliens added to the U.S. population at around one to 1.5 million, on top of the 11 to 22 million illegal aliens who are already living across the country. This finding does not factor in the illegal aliens who will be deported, die over the next year, or leave the U.S. of their own will. As DHS data has revealed, once border crossers and illegal aliens are released into the country, the overwhelming majority are never deported.
In February, Trump signed a bill allowing the DHS secretary to add another 69,320 spots to the current H-2B cap of 66,000. On March 29, DHS began this process by announcing that it would issue an additional 30,000 H-2B visas this year. The H-2B visa program allows foreign workers to come to the US and work in non-agricultural occupations. Unlike the H-1B program, a Bachelor’s degree is not required; most H-2B workers are employed in construction, maintenance, landscaping, and so on. The demographic most affected by the expansion of the H-2B program will be unemployed working-class Americans. This flies in the face of Trump’s promise to protect American workers and stop importing foreigners.
Trump has indicated that he has plans to expand the H-1B visa program as well. “We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S.,” he said in a tweet in January.
Trump’s betrayal of American workers is perhaps best encapsulated by the fact that one of the members of the advisory board of his National Council for the American Worker (which claims to “enhance employment opportunities for Americans of all ages”) is the CEO of IBM, a company that has expressed a preference for F-1 and H-1B visa holders in its job postings.
Trump has been working on legal immigration with Jared Kushner, who has quietly been crafting a plan to grant citizenship to more “low- and high-skilled workers, as well as permanent and temporary workers” (so, just about everyone). Kushner’s plan proves the folly of the typical Republican line that legal immigration is fine and that only illegal immigration should be opposed. Under his plan, thousands of illegal aliens will become “legal” with the stroke of a pen.
There is a paucity of anti-immigration hardliners in Trump’s inner circle (though Stephen Miller is a notable exception). Trump has surrounded himself with moderates: the Kushners, Mick Mulvaney, Alex Acosta, and others. There are more former Goldman Sachs employees in the Trump White House than in the Obama and Bush administrations combined.
The new DHS secretary, Kevin McAleenan, who was appointed yesterday following Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation, is a middle-of-the-road law enforcement official who served under Obama and Bush and is responsible for the revival of the “catch-and-release” policy, whereby illegal aliens are released upon being apprehended. It was reported last week that Trump was thinking of appointing either Kris Kobach or Ken Cuccinelli to a position of prominence (as an “immigration czar”), but this appears to have been another lie.
Trump’s failure to deliver on his promises cannot be chalked up to congressional obstruction. Congress. As Kobach said in a recent interview, “It’s not like we’re powerless and it’s not like we have to wait for Congress to do something. . . . No, we can actually solve the immediate crisis without Congress acting.” Solving the border crisis would simply demand “leadership in the executive branch willing to act decisively.” Kobach recently outlined an intelligent three-point plan that Trump could implement:
- Publish the final version of the regulation that would supersede the Flores Settlement. The initial regulation was published by the Department of Homeland Security in September 2018. DHS could have published the final regulation in December. Inexplicably, DHS has dragged its feet. Finalizing that regulation would allow the United States to detain entire families together, and it would stop illegal aliens from exploiting children as get-out-of-jail free cards.
- Set up processing centers at the border to house the migrants and hold the hearings in one place. The Department of Justice should deploy dozens of immigration judges to hear the asylum claims at the border without releasing the migrants into the country. FEMA already owns thousands of travel trailers and mobile homes that it has used to address past hurricane disasters. Instead of selling them (which FEMA is currently doing), FEMA should ship them to the processing centers to provide comfortable housing for the migrants. In addition, a fleet of passenger planes should deployed to the processing centers. Anyone who fails in his or her asylum claim, or who is not seeking asylum and is inadmissible, should be flown home immediately. It would be possible to fly most migrants home within a few weeks of their arrival. Word would get out quickly in their home countries that entry into the United States is not as easy as advertised. The incentive to join future caravans would dissipate quickly.
- Publish a proposed Treasury regulation that prohibits the sending home of remittances by people who cannot document lawful presence in the United States. This will hit Mexico in the pocketbook: Mexico typically brings in well over $20 billion a year in remittances, raking in more than $26 billion in 2017. Then, tell the government of Mexico that we will finalize the Treasury regulation unless they do two things to help us address the border crisis: (1) Mexico immediately signs a “safe third country agreement” similar to our agreement with Canada. This would require asylum applicants to file their asylum application in the first safe country they set foot in (so applicants in the caravans from Central America would have to seek asylum in Mexico, rather than Canada); and (2) Mexico chips in $5 billion to help us build the wall. The threat of ending remittances from illegal aliens is a far more powerful one than threatening to close the border. Ending such remittances doesn’t hurt the U.S. economy; indeed, it helps the economy by making it more likely that such capital will be spent and circulate in our own country. We can follow through easily if Mexico doesn’t cooperate.
It would not be all that difficult for Trump to implement these proposals. Kobach still has faith in Trump, but his assessment of him appears increasingly to be too generous. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Trump is not actually interested in curbing immigration and reversing America’s demographic decline. He is a con artist and a coward who is willing to betray millions of white Americans so that he can remain in the good graces of establishment neoconservatives. At the same time, he wants to maintain the illusion that he cares about his base. As Ann Coulter has put it, “He’s like a waiter who compliments us for ordering the hamburger, but keeps bringing us fish. The hamburger is our signature dish, juicy and grilled to perfection, you’ve made a brilliant choice . . . now here’s your salmon.” Nearly everything Trump has done in the name of restricting immigration has turned out to be an empty gesture and mere theatrics: threatening to close the border, offering protections to “Dreamers” in exchange for funding for the ever-elusive wall, threatening to end the “anchor baby” phenomenon with an executive order (which never came to pass), cutting off aid to Central American countries, claiming that he will appoint an “immigration czar” (and then proceeding to appoint McAleenan instead of Kobach as DHS secretary), and on and on.
While Trump has failed to keep the promises that got him elected, he has fulfilled a number of major promises that he made to Israel and the Jewish community.
First, he moved the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Trump claimed that the move would only cost $200,000, but in reality it will end up being more than $20 million. The construction of the embassy also led to a series of bloody protests; it is located in East Jerusalem, which is generally acknowledged to be Palestinian territory.
Second, he pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal. Netanyahu claimed on Israeli TV that Israel was responsible for convincing him to exit the deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran. (Both Trump and Netanyahu falsely alleged that Iran lied about the extent of its nuclear program; meanwhile, Israel’s large arsenal of chemical and biological weapons has escaped mention.)
Third, he put an end to American funding for Palestinians. This coincided with the passing of a bill that codified a $38 billion, ten-year foreign aid package for Israel. Trump also authorized an act allocating an additional $550 million toward US-Israel missile and tunnel defense cooperation.
Fourth, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights (in defiance of the rest of the world, which recognizes the Golan Heights as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation). Trump’s Golan Heights proclamation was issued on March 21 and was celebrated by Israel.
Trump’s track record on Israel shows that he is capable of exercising agency and getting things done. But he has failed to address the most pressing issue that America currently faces: mass immigration and the displacement of white Americans. The most credible explanation for his incompetence is that he has no intention of delivering on his promises. There is no “Plan,” no 4-D chess game. The sooner white Americans realize this, the better.
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