BY STATE SENATOR JAMES SANDERS, JR.
President Donald Trump has consistently stated that he wants to make America great again, but how can he do that if he uses rhetoric that spawns hate and division, especially when it comes to immigrants. America is a nation of immigrants. People who came here from other lands built this country into what it is today, and as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
President Trump is seeking, by any means necessary, to get his proposed wall built at the U.S.-Mexico border, even if it negatively affects Americans or tramples the constitution. Initially when he failed to obtain funding from Congress, the impasse caused the partial shutdown of the U.S. Government, leaving 800,000 federal employees working without pay or on furlough.
Since that didn’t work, Trump issued a national emergency to try and gain access to the billions that Congress still refuses to give him, claiming the wall is essential to protecting national security and that he wanted to speed up the process. Remember when he said Mexico was going to pay for the wall. It’s been over two years into his presidency and I haven’t seen any movement there.
Once again, in his temper tantrums over getting this unnecessary wall built, Trump has resorted to the tried and true method of fear mongering that we have come to expect from him. Trump has claimed that millions of immigrants are invading our country, causing a “tremendous national emergency” and “a tremendous crisis.” Trump added: “It’s an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. We have no idea who they are.”
The wall is a bad idea to begin with, since reports show that most illegal immigrants don’t enter the country at the U.S.-Mexico border, but rather travel by plane and overstay their visas. However, to hear Trump talk about the issue, you would think the area was a war zone. There are better ways to stop the flow of illegal immigrants than putting up a wall. I suggest creating a path toward citizenship or using the wall money, or part of it anyway, to increase foreign aid and help improve life in poverty-stricken countries so that residents aren’t so desperate to leave.
Both houses of Congress passed a resolution reversing Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency. In response, Trump issued the first veto of his presidency, squashing the resolution, and keeping his sights firmly on funding the wall. Following the veto, the resolution will go back to the legislature, but it will need to get a two-thirds majority vote in order to be overturned, something many believe is unlikely to happen.
Trump said he expected lawsuits and he was right. States like California and New York have taken legal action challenging Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. Public Citizen, an advocacy group, representing three property owners in Texas whose land may be taken in order to construct the border wall, has also joined the fight.
It is a sad state of affairs. We have a pigheaded president who can’t, or won’t, because of pride, admit that the wall is a mistake and back down. In the process, he is increasing racism, hatred and ignorance – the key ingredients that breed these alt-right wing radical groups and their violent ways. Instead of repairing the immigration system, Trump is making it more difficult than ever to obtain citizenship, and all around us, in countless countries crime and poverty go unabated with no assistance from the U.S.
This affects us right here in Southeast Queens and throughout the borough, which is known for its diversity. We should lead by example and show that we respect all races and nationalities regardless of citizenship status and treat other cultures with the respect they deserve. We need to focus on fixing the underlying problems that cause people to, in some cases, risk their lives, to travel to the U.S. illegally and devise strategies to help them.