The situation at the border with Mexico now really is a crisis – and it seems fairly obvious to me that Trump created it.
Illegal immigration across the border had been decreasing for years; in fact, it was at historically low levels. No caravans of people seeking asylum were coming up from Guatemala.
Beginning in 2018, the first of these most recent caravans began and it seemed as if they would be like past ones: a few thousand people started, then their numbers dwindled as they moved north and reached the US border.
As the 2018 midterms approached, Trump kicked his anti-immigrant rhetoric into high gear, deploying the US military to support border patrol agents and threatening to close the border because of this alleged crisis of hordes of immigrants pouring into the US.
Great Marketing For The Migrants
Trump’s rhetoric became an effective marketing campaign – for the migrants. His bluster didn’t scare them away. Instead, he raised their awareness of asylum as a way to escape their country.
Fairly quickly – by March 2019 – more caravans than ever started show up at the border including a record number of families. The current system is not equipped to handle the record number of people showing up, creating a true humanitarian crisis.
Oh, and don’t forget the Republicans took a shellacking in the midterms, in part because of the GOP’s anti-immigrant stance that is rejected by a growing number of Americans.
A Whale Of A Tantrum
Now Trump is throwing a whale of a temper tantrum over the situation, and he’s egged on as usual by advisor Stephen Miller who’s an immigration hardliner and white nationalist.
Not only is Trump carrying out a purge of top DHS officials including Secretary Nielsen because they’re not doing enough to keep immigrants out, he’s once again threatening to close the border despite all the economic and humanitarian catastrophes the closing would cause.
And reportedly he encouraged border patrol agents to break the law by ignoring judge’s orders, along with assuring the Customs and Border Patrol head that he’d pardon him if he broke the law. If true, this is an absolute abuse of power.
The Bluster Backfired
Clearly, Trump’s decision to shout about the hordes of brown people coming across the border instead of making an immigration deal with Democrats has backfired.
And he has good reason to be worried because this problem happened on his watch. Presidents get blamed for situations that happen when they’re in charge. He owns this crisis now.
Is this fair?
My response: who cares?
He’s president. He takes the blame and the public will hold him accountable.
And so they should. Not only because he’s the president, but because he’s made immigration such a contentious, visible issue that he’s tightly identified with it. He may try to duck responsibility, but at a gut level even he has to know he’s going to be blamed.
Hence the panicky purge at DHS and the Twitter tantrum.
Watch For The Tough Guy Act To Increase
I long ago gave up any hope that Trump might learn from his utter inability to shepherd legislation through the usual political channels. Yet still it fascinates me that he seems to be too dimwitted to come up with any other solution to a problem than yelling louder and acting tougher.
Somehow I doubt this will work, but it seems to be the only way he knows how to respond to anything he perceives as threatening,
Watch to see what he does next. I guarantee there won’t be anything diplomatic or deal-making about it.