President Trump has shown a troubling propensity to vacillate, flummoxing his critics and supporters alike. But on one issue Trump has stood relatively firm: immigration.
Trump has exhibited that resolve by sustaining his rhetoric to build a wall along America’s southern border and sending back those who entered the country illegally, and by fighting for his proposed moratorium, recently upheld in part by the U.S. Supreme Court, on visitors from six majority-Muslim nations prone to support, condone or harbor terrorists.
Critics have relentlessly lambasted Trump on these ideas, disparaging him as a racist, a nativist and a religious bigot.
But in recent days two immigration-related story lines have emerged to demonstrate that Trump’s critics have misjudged his policies.
On July 5, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency deported a Boston resident named John Cunningham. Cunningham initially came to America in 1999 on a 90-day visa to work for the summer. He never left. By overstaying his temporary visa, Cunningham became an illegal immigrant, although he was in all other respects a law-abiding and model Boston resident.
Why is this significant? Cunningham is white, and earlier this month was deported back to his native Ireland.
“People are very, very concerned and lying low,” Ronnie Millar, Cunningham’s friend and the head of the Boston-based Irish International Immigrant Center, told the Associated Press. “The message is that if it can happen to John, it can happen to anyone.” And by anyone he presumably meant any of the 50,000 Irish citizens who the Irish embassy estimates are living illegally in the U.S.
The AP referenced the Cunningham case in highlighting the Trump administration’s hard line on illegal immigrants from Europe.
Between the beginning of this fiscal year on Oct. 1 through June 24, the AP reported on Tuesday, the government has deported more than 1,300 European illegals. This suggests Trump has implemented a get-tough policy because ICE deported just 1,450 illegal immigrants from Europe during all of fiscal year 2016.
It’s certainly true that the number of Europeans deported is relatively small compared to the number of Latin Americans. Mexicans, for instance, make up 93,000 of the 167,000 people deported over that same time span, the AP reported. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that Europeans comprise just 440,000 of the 11 million illegals living in the United States.
The second story surfaced on Wednesday.
A federal judge in Michigan temporarily halted the government’s planned deportation of roughly 1,400 Iraqis from around the country who reportedly had criminal records.
Why is this significant? Well, at least 114 of them, and possibly dozens more, according to news accounts, are Chaldeans, a sect of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. In short, they are Christians. And much like those Irish illegal immigrants in Boston, these pockets of Iraqis are fearful of being exposed, caught and deported.
We call attention to these developments to point out that federal agents on the ground have taken Trump at his word about curtailing illegal immigration, and the policy is being carried out regardless of race or religion. As Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, told the AP, “It’s pretty clear ICE is removing anyone undocumented they come across.”
Trump’s critics are free to argue that this crackdown is unnecessary or hurtful to individuals and communities. But recent events suggest they should stop promoting the fiction that Trump is out to get one particular race or religion.
— The Ocala Star Banner, Ocala, Florida