If we believe that we, as Americans, are bound together by a common concern for each other, then an urgent national priority is upon us. We must begin to end the disgrace of this other America.”
- Robert F. Kennedy, 1968
Today in Trump’s America, we are dealing with great challenges at home and abroad with the ominous threat of a worldwide nuclear war. For over a year Trump has deceived our nation and the world with repeated messages of despair and promises of greatness. Fifty years ago, RFK warned America against Trump’s ideology – do as I say, or else.
“To be honest, I inherited a mess.” “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.” “I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words,” Trump said in January 2017.
“Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 1twelve months. Lowest female unemployment in eighteen years!” Trump said in January 2018.
In this context of confusion and division, the U.S. government shut down for the weekend. The Senate is trying to get something done trading bills they don’t like for others they must have, an ineffective political process based on power and intimidation. Welcome to Trump’s world. Let’s dig in.
Crossing the line is a two-way street
More than one million Americans are living the life in San Miguel Allende, Puerto Vallarta, and many other cities south of the border. More than 80 percent are undocumented, they came to visit and decided to stay. Americans are welcomed and treated as friends. They own property in the best communities, have easy access to high-quality medical care, and don’t have to speak like the natives, “otra cerveza, donde está el baño, más rápido, ándale, ándale,” is all they need.
The truth about the Wall
“The Wall is the Wall, it has never changed or evolved from the first day I conceived of it,” says Trump. The congressional debate is mostly about the cost of the wall. Democrats oppose wasting $18 billion and Republicans try to please Trump. The fact U.S. taxpayers would pay for the project is no longer mentioned, a major change Trump now chooses to ignore.
Trump has never walked along the border and has no idea how it works. It is not a porous barrier; there are multiple checkpoints on the roads and airports nearby. The border is like the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea. More than 21,000 US Border Patrol (USBP) agents, heavily armed, provide around-the-clock enforcement. The Rio Grande, a 2,000-mile long river, and a heavy metal fence divide the two nations. Several international bridges give access to people and products flowing north and south.
The border is a dangerous place
A mix of people from Latin America, traversing Mexico, look for the land of opportunity. Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, 500 miles long, is the U.S. first line of defense. Some are climate refugees; each family has a unique story. Many die on the way, some hunted down by right-wing U.S. militia groups working with the USBP. Corruption and excessive use of force by USBP is common. A 2012 PBS report “Crossing the Line,” profiled the case of Hernández-Rojas killed while in custody of the USBP.
The price we pay
Trump’s orders restricting immigration, his hateful comments, and the unrest in cities marching for justice and equality, have damaged America’s reputation as a safe, desirable tourist destination.
A 2016 study from the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy found $12 billion each year paid by undocumented immigrants to state and local taxes. Trump has triggered a culture of cruelty and inequality. Caring deeply for others is the only answer to hate.
Dr. Luis Contreras