Since the start of his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump’s anti-immigration stance has been an emblematic pillar of his political platform. Immigration now divides the masses, and this division is exacerbated by Trump’s incendiary and xenophobic rhetoric, which frames Mexican immigrants as dangerous criminals and certain foreign nations as “shithole countries.” The administration’s language and policies have ultimately polarized the constituency, raised human rights concerns, and threatened migrants’ livelihoods while failing to significantly improve the economy as it intended.
The Trump administration’s cruelty towards immigrants is perhaps best demonstrated by the inhumane conditions of detention centers at the US-Mexico border. The UN rights chief has condemned the detention centers and family separation as violations of international law.
Detained in a state of indefinite uncertainty with little to no legal counsel, migrants face dangerous overcrowding, insanitation, and “hazardous” disinfectant chemicals, all of which have caused health complications and disease outbreaks. Reports have shown people sleeping on concrete floors or standing for days, sometimes with no access to soap, toothpaste, or places to wash their hands or shower. In the past 4 years, there have been 4,500 sexual abuse/harrassment allegations and 39 deaths, 12 by suicide. The 2018 “zero-tolerance policy” has separated thousands of children from their families; since its reversal, the administration has yet to track down the parents of 545 children, and about 2⁄3 of those parents were deported to Central America without their children. Trump fails to take responsibility for this catastrophe and often deflects blame onto the Obama administration for creating the camps. Although Trump inherited this system, his administration significantly escalated border militarization and executed intense and worsening maltreatment of immigrants’ welfare.
Furthermore, the attempt to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program instilled fear into undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children in circumstances beyond their control. These people have grown up in the US and culturally identify as Americans. The Supreme Court blocked DACA’s cancellation, but Trump’s efforts have delayed and prevented the passing of policies that would help this innocent population towards US citizenship. Trump also terminated Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows foreign nationals from designated countries to temporarily live and work in the US. This is unjust because TPS recipients, most of them who have been in the US for decades, are deeply integrated into communities. Ending TPS will harm the economy and hurt regional stability.
The general inefficacy of Trump’s policies is demonstrated by the wall proposal, its expensive costs, its failure to deter illegal immigration, and its incompletion. There was also little improvement on the job prospects of native-born US workers, and the process of decreasing immigration and increasing deportation has detrimental effects on the economy. Mass deportation over 10 years would result in a cumulative GDP decrease by $4.7 trillion and cost the federal government nearly $900 billion in lost revenue. Immigrants’ high rate of business startups and patents have historically provided positive spillover effects by stimulating the economy.
The US, once known as a welcoming beacon of hope, is now in direct opposition to traditional values by denying people who are escaping war and poverty and riddling the asylum-seeking process with obstacles. Looking forward, the country requires critical immigration reform to reverse the consequences of Trump’s policies.