Trump. The name that no one can escape. Not the Republican Party. Not the American people. And absolutely, positively, not any member of the American immigration community, documented or otherwise. He launched his publicity stunt of a presidential campaign on the back of anti-immigration sentiment, using in the process the most grotesque stereotypes of Mexicans that even the most depraved mind could conjure. And now, pressed to come up with policy proposals that fall back on something other than his self-professed genius, His Hugeness The Donald has announced what he will do about immigrants and immigration.
And boy, does it not lack for hugeness, among other things. A fence along the Rio Grande that Mexico will pay for (don't worry, His Hugeness will convince Mexico to do so). The mass deportation of every single undocumented alien AND all of their relatives, whether by blood or marriage, or whether or not they are U.S. citizens. And, to top it all off, the end of birthright citizenship for children born in the U.S. to non-citizen parents. Oh, and did I mention "sanctuary cities"? Donald's got plans for them, too. Huge ones.
Weeeeellllll, there's just one problem with all of this. His Hugeness is a four-flushing, double-talking hypocrite. Certainly on this issue, he is. A hypocrite who uses undocumented workers on his construction sites. A hypocrite who, when his hypocrisy is faced down by one of his own, undocumented employees, resorts to evasive answers and runs away from the truth. Hardly the tell-it-like-it is guy his supporters claim him to be.
Donald may be two-faced, but he's no fool. He knows that immigrant workers, documented or otherwise, are hard-working, tax-paying, decent human beings whose lives and dreams reflect everything that makes the United States special, even in the country's current state. He prides himself on quality, and he will do whatever it takes to deliver that--including hiring the undocumented. For that matter, so will the rest of us.
That is why we routinely hire immigrants, documented or not, to clean our bedpans, pick our produce, watch our children, serve our food, manicure our lawns, dust our furniture, build and clean buildings--in short, do all of the things that we as a society are too lazy or delicate or fearful to do. We don't like to admit this, of course because, well, it's embarrassing, and it turns out that, even at this late stage of the game, we have some--some--capacity for embarrassment. So we deal with our embarrassment about immigrants in the same way that we deal with our shame about racism--we pretend it's the other side's fault, and demand that the other side be punished as harshly as possible. And as long as we engage in this duplicity while shrinking from any work that might dirty our pretty hands even a little bit, guess what? The immigrant population, documented and otherwise, will just continue to grow.
As it is, the undocumented side of the immigrant population is a massive human rights embarrassment, one that begs for a solution by our federal government. Would that we had a federal government that could rise to the challenge. Instead, one-third of our federal government is infested by a political party that seeks to raise issues not in order to solve them, but to manipulate them into leverage for more power. So that, when a common-sense, bipartisan immigration solution reaches the point at which it's only one-half-of-Congress away from becoming law, that one-half-of-Congress decides to do nothing, in the hope of provoking a mix of anger and apathy that would give them the other half of Congress. Which it did. Now, both halves of Congress are hoping to pick up the White House next year and spend more time running away from answers and looking for new wedge issues.
Alas for them, politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. And when the anti-immigrant portion of the American population figures out that they were being scammed, all they needed was a spokesperson willing to give voice to their rage. Enter Donald Trump, stage left, walking down the stairway of the obscene Fifth Avenue gilded monstrosity with which he replaced the Bonwit Teller building, his second trophy wife on his arm.
And now, the establishment GOP, or what's left of it, is outraged. This wasn't why they worked so hard to make buying elections as American as apple pie. Currently, George Will and Charles Krauthammer are leading the anti-Trump charge in the right-wing media conspiracy, whining about how His Hugeness isn't allowing the unprecedented greatness of the current GOP presidential field to shine through.
Wrong again, guys. Trump's semi-domination of that field (at the pathetic level of 24 percent) illustrates the fact that it is not the presidential equivalent of the '27 Yankees. More like the '62 Mets. Or, perhaps, most like the clown car at the circus. A care in which Donald Trump is the biggest Bozo, teaching the others how to put on their greasepaint and floppy shoes. And it's working: rather than asserting their own, individualized policy positions on immigration, everyone else in the car with Trump is dancing to the beat of his shuffle.
It's a profoundly sad legacy for a country that used to take pride in its ability to solve problems of any size and complexity. In a more personal way, it's a profoundly sad legacy for Fred Trump, Donald's father, who started out with a tool box and a pick-up truck and built thousands of middle-class homes for New Yorkers. It's a blessing for him that he's not alive to see what his son has become: the most obnoxious reflection of our dereliction of duty to our forebearers who sacrificed for a greatness we no longer deserve. And all of whom were, or came from, immigrants.