The Retrumplican Party

donald-trump.jpgAs a Democrat I should love Donald Trump. His style and self-absorbed attitude entertains a powerful faction of the far-right movement which creates problems for the conservative core. He is a one-man wrecking ball; targeting his attacks on any individual that opposes him which includes most of the 2016 Republican field. His rhetoric is sharp and overtly hyperbolic and his methods are intrusive and borderline comical. Trump has cornered the market on ridiculousness and amazingly this message is resonating at light speed with many in the Republican base. Trump hurts Republicans chances in 2016, which is welcomed by Democrats, but he is also reinforcing a false narrative about key issues.

Donald Trump’s opening hand is geared to exploit false perceptions around a polarizing group; unauthorized immigrants. The beautiful part of this strategy is the groundwork has already been laid. Republicans use fabrications and fear to unify their base against this specific red herring, turning out voters through emotional statements and illogical arguments. To demonstrate how demonstrative and polarizing this tactic is, here is a list of 10 factual statements around immigration that Republicans repeatedly get wrong:

  1. Unauthorized immigrants are not eligible for food stamps, housing, Medicaid, or any other form of federal welfare. Only US citizens are eligible for federal welfare benefits. However, unauthorized immigrants can take advantage of emergency room coverage, a law that was signed by Ronald Reagan.
  2. Undocumented workers pay taxes. Today there are 8.1 million undocumented workers in the US labor force comprising 5.1% of all workers. The vast majority of these workers pay taxes to US entitlement systems through their employer that will never be returned. The government estimates these payments equate to a $10-15 billion dollar annual windfall. In addition, unauthorized immigrants pay sales, gas, and property taxes (through rentals).
  3. Of all major demographics in the United States, unauthorized immigrants are the LEAST likely to commit a violent crime. Donald Trump’s recent grandstanding, suggesting unauthorized immigrants are rapists and murderers, is more fiction than fact. The vast majority of incarcerations are due to immigration law infractions. Such infractions could easily be reversed through immigration reform.
  4. Immigrant PopulationOver the last 10 years the US experienced no increase in unauthorized immigrant population. Undocumented worker population is tied directly to job availability. Since peaking in 2007, the United States’ unauthorized immigrant population has actually declined. The recession crippled the low-skilled labor workforce, which drove many undocumented workers back to their native countries.
  5. Only half of unauthorized immigrants cross the United States southern border. With continuing demands for border security, many Americans do not understand that the southern border is only half the cause. In addition to incremental border security costs associated with the recent Senate Bill ($60 billion), maintaining the status quo makes better financial sense given current immigration trends.
  6. Immigration reform is fully supported by the Mormon Church. President Uchtdorf currently sits on President Obama’s immigration policy team. He has been vocal about the Church’s desire to maintain undocumented families and reform our current system. Recently, on returning from a meeting with President Obama, he released this statement:

    Our principle, I declared to the president, is that we love our neighbor, which means we love all people, in all places and at all times. One of the core values we stand for is families. The separation of families (in U.S. immigration policy) isn’t helping.

  7. Unauthorized immigrants currently fight for your freedom. The military recruits 5,000 non-citizen soldiers of which many are unauthorized immigrants. Historically, the United States military recruited unauthorized immigrants to fight in every war. One of the first soldiers to die in Iraq, Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, was an unauthorized immigrant from Guatemala who was killed in a tank battle in March 2003.
  8. Undocumented workers play a significant role in keeping labor costs low, controlling inflation, and growing the economy. Undocumented workers make up 26% of the farming industry, 17% of the ground maintenance industry, 14% of the construction industry, and 11% of the service industry. Whenever conservatives debate cost-analysis of unauthorized immigrants the positive impact is ignored. Even Donald Trump understands the need for low labor costs as the Washington Post recently reported undocumented workers are currently building his latest mega-hotel at the Old Post Office Pavilion.
  9. Ronald Reagan was a strong supporter of immigration reform and passed the largest amnesty program in the history of the United States. On Nov. 6, 1986, while signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act into law, Reagan released these remarks:

    We have consistently supported a legalization program which is both generous to the alien and fair to the countless thousands of people throughout the world who seek legally to come to America. The legalization provisions in this act will go far to improve the lives of a class of individuals who now must hide in the shadows, without access to many of the benefits of a free and open society. Very soon many of these men and women will be able to step into the sunlight and, ultimately, if they choose, they may become Americans.

    It should also be noted that Reagan maintained this position throughout his life.

  10. Unauthorized immigrants do not vote. This has been a popular claim from right-wing conspiracists when creating a voter suppression narrative. The suggestion that unauthorized immigrants will risk deportation and fraudulently vote in US elections is a fact-less claim fueled by misleading anecdotal examples.

I am not sure how long Republican’s honeymoon with Donald Trump will last. But what is certain is Trump’s narrative about immigration will continue to mislead and polarize the uninformed. As Americans we need to strongly challenge such misleading talking points instead of passively accepting the propaganda of the Retrumplican Party.

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  • kevin wally
    commented 2015-08-12 19:34:06 -0700
    These statistics are misleading. The crime rate in Mexico/South America is extremely high. It is much higher than in the USA. It is a reasonable assumption that the people coming here would have at least the same crime rate as their home country. This makes their crime rate much higher than anything that occurs in America. Since until recently it was not legal for them to work in America it stands to reason that the ID theft is much higher in the illegal population. Also the tax evasion/working under the table not paying taxes is much higher than the native population. In fact the ID theft would have to be extremely high.

    The one fact that is never mentioned is that if the government had done their Job 100 percent of the illegal’s crime rate would not have happened in America. All of the murders, drunk driving deaths, rapes, assaults, gang and drug crimes etc. wouldn’t have happened at all. The massive failure of the federal government to do the most basic and fundamental functions of government, protection of the citizens. It seems ridiculous that we even worry about their crime rate, where they come from or even why they are here when if the people we have entrusted with enforcing the laws of the land refuse to do so resulting in needless crime and conflict in our country. I don’t know how all of these politicians responsible for the death and added burden on all of our systems can look us in the eyes and make us feel guilty for wanting them to do their job. I would have a hard time sleeping at night if people were needlessly dying and I could have stopped it.

    Another point that seems never to be brought up is what is wrong with Mexico or any of the other countries feeding this problem. Take Mexico for example. It is a beautiful country full of hard working wonderful people, a 12 month growing season, natural resources etc. Yet the people of Mexico and south America are braking up their own families by sending their kids or paying Coyotaje’s tones of money and risking death coming to America. In the meantime liberals and progressives point their fingers at America a racist and nasty country. This is absurd. Why would they leave these countries to come here if we are so bad. Wouldn’t it be more productive to ask or even demand a little change from these countries than keep making excuses for them. Accusing America of being the bad guy and promoting illegal immigration as something good for our country is destroying any chance of Mexico/South America improving. Also it lets these poorly run countries to slide instead of changing. It seems to me that many organizations are taking advantage of the situation instead of doing the right thing.

    The other points are very disheartening. Your point 8 is perplexing to me. The party that is worried about wage inequality, and stagnation is suddenly worried about labor costs and inflation. What about a $15 minimum wage. So it is positive that illegal immigration has suppressed wages. While at the same time progressives want to force buisness to pay $15 minimum wage.

    Your first point is a mis direct. You say that they are not eligible for federal benefits with not mention of the fact that many of them get benefits anyway . In point 2 you say they pay taxes. This means that they are using a stolen SS number and do not want to alert the IRS to the fact that they are using someone elses number. They also use that number to get benefits illegally. No matter how innocent this seams the cost to tax payers buisness and governt agencies is enormous. I don’t have the numbers in front of me but it is much bigger than the tax windfall that you mention in 2.

    Summery: Immigration laws of this country were set up to protect the citizens and help them and the nation to grow in an orderly and controlled manner. It was a win win for everyone. Then certain groups saw they could cheat the system by ingoring the laws. By ignoring the laws it has turned the system in a lose win situation that if very unfair for Americans and people around the world folloing the rules. Sometimes tough love is what is best. In this situation it is what this nation needs.
  • Neil Walton
    commented 2015-08-11 17:55:54 -0700
    Thanks for the article!

    Can you please share your sources? I don’t really care about illegal immigration but am interested in your data because I think there is a little more grey surrounding the issue than presented.

    For instance, fact #1, illegal immigrants may not be eligible for certain welfare benefits but their kids are. Any money saved by aid to the children is money that would have come out of the parents’ pockets. Food and medical assistance for the children and emergency room medical treatment for the parents is not insignificant.

    Fact #3, who knows. There is a lot of contrary data out there:

    Anne Coulter says the data is incomplete because the govt refuses to count.

    Who to believe? The Internet is filled with misleading and dishonest sites reinforcing already held beliefs but the government does not have a stellar track record of being open, transparent, and forthcoming. Ever. And 9/11, Benghazi, NSA spying, Fast and Furious, IRS harassment, lobbyist exceptions, etc. all come to mind just from the past couple administrations.

    Ideally people wouldn’t have to trust anyone but when they are forced to pay taxes can we blame them for being interested in how their tax dollars are spent?

    I am curious about fact #5. Does this mean the other half of illegal immigrants are Canucks fleeing the great white north across the Canadian border? Or people crossing the Atlantic and Pacific? Just wondering.

    Fact #9 is exactly what a lot of people believe and why they are so upset. They simply believe in legal immigration and that if people do not respect immigration laws they will most likely not respect other laws. That may not be true but it is a logical and consistent conclusion. Also, US immigration laws are less strict than our neighbors. Mexico is stricter than the US and treats its illegals horribly. Canada takes mostly phd’s. Again, in that context, Americans resenting the sentiment that other countries have the compassionate moral high ground is another logical conclusion.

    Fact #10, maybe the number of illegal immigrant voter fraud is statistically insignificant but the fact that there are anecdotal examples means it happens. So the claims are perhaps more negligible than “fact-less.” That word is a bit too strong. And “conspiracists” is so strong and charged it is basically poisoning the well. You might as well have called anyone against illegal immigration a racist.

    On the other hand, it might be statistically significant:

    And when states are being sued by the current administration for requiring identification to vote, another logical conclusion would be that someone somewhere wants illegal immigrants to vote, especially when that demographic has a strong tendency to vote favoring said administration:

    Again, who knows…but the country is divided on the issue and name-calling and harsh challenges to people’s beliefs never change minds. It only causes people to cling all the more strongly to their beliefs (and then we never solve anything). Studies have highlighted this aspect of human nature and Mormons “know” it better than anyone.

    Thanks again!
  • Matthew Anselmo
    commented 2015-08-01 19:02:38 -0700
    Hi JB,
    I am sure there are several anecdotal examples which contradict my claims. But I look at the total data set which override such examples.
  • J. B.
    commented 2015-07-27 07:30:31 -0700
    One fact not mentioned, Kate Steinle was shot in the back by an repeat offending undocumented criminal. That is where my frustration is. Show a little bit of intellectual honesty. It never comes from the progressive side, even if you are a Mormon. Maybe you haven’t heard of her yet. Could you name for me as a white American citizen, the federal crime I can commit where I would find favor of my federal government?

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