Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Trump Wall and mass deportation program

From Elizabeth Drew, Terrifying Trump New York Review of Books 02/07/2017:

Then there was the Wall, which had begun as a political fantasy — an illusion of Trump’s creation to fire up his followers at rallies. The Wall was his metaphor for “getting tough with Mexico” for its ostensibly “sending us” criminals, drugs, and rapists, though Mexico has cooperated with the US government to prevent such immigration and drug running, as well as the transit of Central Americans trying to reach the US. In fact, immigrants have a lower crime rate than native-born Americans.

Trump’s case against illegal Mexican immigration into the US is counterfactual in still another sense: for years more Mexicans have been leaving the US than have been coming into the country. Trump and numerous congressional Republicans intone about the necessity for “border security,” but in fact the US has spent an estimated $132 billion since fiscal year 2005 on fences, additional agents, sensors, surveillance cameras with night vision, helicopters, drones, and radar — and illegal crossings have dropped dramatically.

Once elected, Trump had to at least act as if he was determined to build his chimerical but audience-pleasing Wall. If it happens to not be built, he can say he tried and pass the blame onto others for unwillingness to “protect our borders.” His second reckless, crowd-pleasing claim, that he’d get Mexico to pay for the Wall, plus his own inability to suffer a rebuke, got him into an unnecessary row with the president of Mexico, whose country of course has no intention of paying for the Wall. [my emphasis]
Reading this brought to mind John Steinbeck's introduction to a published collection of his Second World War articles as a reporter oversees, Once There Was a War (1958):

For what they are worth, or for what they may recapture, here they are, period pieces, fairy tales, half-meaningless memories of a time and of attitudes which have gone forever from the world, a sad and jocular recording of a little part of a war I saw and do not believe, unreal with trumped-up pageantry, so that it stand in the mind like the battle pictures of Crécy and Bunker Hill and Gettysburg. And, although all war is a symptom of man's failure as a thinking animal, still there was in these memory-wars some gallantry, some bravery, some kindliness. A man got killed, surely, or maimed, but, living, he did not carry crippled seed as a gift to his children.

Now for many years we have suckled on fear and fear alone, and there is no good product of fear. Its children are cruelty and deceit and suspicion germinating in our darkness. And just as surely as we are poisoning the air with our test bombs, so are we poisoned in our souls by fear, faceless, stupid sarcomic terror. [my emphasis]

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