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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Trump’s cynical mix of bigotry and nationalism is telling

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These are dark days for the United States. If we ever needed a wake-up call, it’s now, with a president actively encouraging immigrants — including most of the Dreamers — to “self-deport.”

It’s a disaster and will just make America look worse in the eyes of the world.

Trump’s stance on the Dreamers, like his handling of other issues, is a manifestation of a wounded ego with national security implications.

All of this could be shrugged off as mere Trumpian buffoonery. But as the leader of the free world, it also raises many uncomfortable questions about where we are heading.

Trump is forcing us to look for answers that Americans are unlikely to entertain. If we want a more open, welcoming, and generous immigration policy, we’ll have to look elsewhere than the White House. But none of that seems to interest the president.

So what should be done?

First, Congress must expand the Dream Act, a bipartisan law passed in 2006 that could keep the Dreamers here in good legal shape, with DACA protections. This doesn’t mean the Dreamers must stay. Any effort to permit the Dreamers to stay should be legal, should lead to permanent residency, should not lead to deportation.

These Dreamers are losing their younger years to their dreams. What’s keeping them here is a sense of opportunity. What’s stopping them from leaving is their devotion to their future.

Congress should step up and grant those who qualify a path to permanent residency if they meet certain conditions — such as military service — and would first come to the attention of the government if they posed a danger to our borders.

In a later step, all those here in good standing, doing good and contributing to our society, should get green cards so they can become legal permanent residents.

Second, Trump must end his crazy and dangerous process of deporting all current DACA recipients. Don’t believe his lie that they are criminals. They’re just trying to work, to support their families, to get an education. Not guilty, your honor.

Third, Trump should stop being his own lawyer when it comes to immigration. Is he even aware that people who have come to America in the hopes of “making it,” particularly if they have been here a long time, are prepared to abide by U.S. law?

Congress needs to weigh in, together with state and local law enforcement on immigrant detentions. The Supreme Court could adopt a “probable cause” standard. If most people have a “reasonable apprehension” that they are in the country illegally, they can be detained.

Trump’s view that his many political headaches — whether over North Korea, the Russia investigations, the Stormy Daniels scandal, or the wall — are purely partisan is ludicrous. Not all of the problems we face are political problems.

The whole nation faces serious challenges, from health care to immigration to entitlement reform to rising inequality, and Trump seems incapable of marshaling the nation’s power to solve them. It’s a hollow claim, that the president alone has the solutions.

It isn’t just Trump’s person that’s small, it’s his domestic agenda. If Trump gets a combative IRS, it isn’t because it’s good for us. It’s because Trump made it that way. If he gets a tax code that makes it more difficult for the middle class to save, it isn’t because he’s helping the middle class. It’s because he has proposed making us poorer.

And if he gets to appoint judges who doubt science, or deport Dreamers, it isn’t because he’s better at picking judges than the average senator. It’s because Trump is George Washington: His Supreme Court would simply update judicial understanding to the point of eliminating, as if it were a conventional court.

Donald Trump’s big policy moves remind us that he’s an ideological firebrand. He’s telling us that the government belongs to his voters, not the nation. He doesn’t want to lead. He wants to cave, and that’s frightening.

In his bizarre statements about nationalism, he’s talking about the idea that the nation and everything it represents should be in the hands of an elected leader — an alpha male. We’re a long way from that America we remember and revere.

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