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Trump Blows up the Immigration Debate with Just One Question
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Trump Blows up the Immigration Debate with Just One Question


President Trump may have just nuked negotiations on an immigration deal with one question.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump was reported to say during a Thursday meeting with congressional leaders on making a deal to give legalization to the so-called “Dreamers.”

The president also wondered why America doesn’t instead take in more immigrants from places like Norway.

Trump made his comments in response to proposals to prevent the deportation of thousands of foreign nationals from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries who are dwelling in the U.S. on Temporary Protected Status.

That comment upset lawmakers in the meeting, and Democrats are now probably not going to want to be seen making a deal with the president who just said some of their voters come from “shithole” countries.

It’s likely Republicans and Democrats will settle on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program running out on March 5, and then campaign on the issue in the 2018 mid-terms.

The possibility there may be no legislative deal on DACA may turn out well for Trump among his base. While he was appearing to stick to a firm line on wall funding, some Republican senators were prepared to sell the president out and give citizenship to the Dreamers, legalization for their family members and only a paltry sum of funding for border security.

A terrible deal that gave everything to Democrats for nothing. Trump’s comments may have put an end to the whole charade of pretending there will be a deal between two intractable sides.

However, Trump’s comments will not just affect DACA — they’re also forcing America to have an important conversation about immigration and the rest of the world.

In his vulgar way, Trump expressed a sentiment many Americans share on the subject. Why does America’s immigration intake appear more like a burden to its citizenry than a benefit? Why don’t we prioritize the best and brightest for entry instead of anyone liberals shame us to accept? Are not Haiti, El Salvador and other third world countries pretty bad places?

Trump has single-handedly pushed these unspoken sentiments into the mainstream, with prominent conservative pundits and Fox News hosts defending his statements. The inevitable “racist!” shout no longer intimidates those who agree with the President of the United States on this question. 

Trump’s question is not going to shock his supporters who agree with it. It shocks the chattering class who thinks his question should result in banishment.

But as the president, he’s not going to be banished. And it appears he’s not going to apologize for his words either, according to the White House statement on the controversy.

The outrage over Trump’s comments put those who want Salvadorans and Haitians on Temporary Protected Status to stay here permanently in an awkward spot. They’re mad that Trump would call the home countries of these non-citizens a “shithole,” yet they make that same argument for why the Salvadorans and Haitians should stay.

“The US is sending Salvadorans back to one of the most violent places in the world, and putting them at risk of death,” said Jason Cone, the USA executive director for Doctors Without Borders, earlier this week.

You may think Cone was saying El Salvador was a “shithole,” but apparently it’s now really a great place since Trump denigrated it.

The argument that it’s too dangerous for the Salvadorans to be returned home isn’t complementary with being mad at Trump for calling it a shithole.

That cognitive dissonance caused by the controversy was best expressed by liberal CNN contributor Joan Walsh saying “I don’t know” on whether she would rather live in Norway or Haiti. Norway is considered one of the best places in the world to live — Haiti is definitely not one of the best places to live. But Walsh’s commitment to outrage prevents her from being serious on that question.

Liberals aren’t the only ones with silly responses to Trump’s comments, as plenty of “respectable” conservatives also had dumb takes.

Never Trumper extraordinaire Bill Kristol implied Haiti was a civilized country simply because it voted against the United Nations’ Jerusalem resolution.

Former Fox News personality Erick Erickson said “Ghanans” are inherently more American than “socialist Norwegians with no special love for America,” weirdly indicating that the Scandinavians have a genetic predisposition to collectivist economics and anti-Americanism.

That’s a strange way to rebut alleged racism.

Washington Examiner reporter David Drucker argued the immigrants from terrible countries become uber-Americans when they come here because of their struggles they faced in their homelands. The data indicates these immigrants vote for Republicans in low numbers, which means Drucker, a conservative, basically owned himself by implying the GOP is not the party for supposedly real Americans.

The conviction that America, simply as a passive being of land, will magically transform all people who come to it into all-star entrepreneurs is shared by many of the country’s thought leaders. That notion ignores the culture and history of what made the American people who they are. It imagines we just live in a special land that will always be great regardless of the folks who live there — as long it continues to have mass immigration, of course.

According to elite convictions, a country’s people don’t make the nation what it is — it’s other, more mysterious factors.

Trump’s one question challenged that way of thinking, and that’s why there is so much backlash against it. But he’s the president, and he’s opened up a conversation the elites can’t suppress.


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