SAN DIEGO – Wanted: A president who will be honest about the fact that he is deporting housekeepers, gardeners, nannies and farmworkers who, while in the country without the proper documents, are non-criminals who pose no threat to anyone.
I want a president who has the character to take responsibility for his actions. And if that means deporting people who are in the country illegally – even if they’re harmless, productive and beneficial to society – then I want him to own it, admit to it and not try to spin it.
I’m looking for a president who – instead of pretending he’s a better person than he actually is by claiming that he is only removing “gang-bangers” and “bad hombres” – says: “It’s true. I deport the people who pick your fruit and care for your kids, the sorts of non-criminals who don’t harm anybody. They’re here illegally, and I’m enforcing the law. Deal with it.”
I can’t take any more sanctimony, lying and phoniness. Everyone creates their own reality. They’re the saints, anyone who disagrees with them are the sinners.
Whether President Barack Obama was deporting Dreamers while claiming he wasn’t, or removing tamale vendors who lacked sales permits, or dumping the U.S.-born children of deportees into foster care, or sticking Central American refugees – mainly women and children – into detention facilities without access to legal counsel, he was horrendous on immigration. While all this was happening, most of his supporters didn’t seem to care. To this day, they still believe the revisionist propaganda that only hardened criminals were removed. Only one thing says otherwise: memory.
The Republicans are no better. Even after Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly signed memos essentially declaring that anyone in the country illegally was fair game to be deported, Trump supporters were still claiming that housekeepers, gardeners and other domestic workers will be safe. Really? Based on what evidence?
And here’s the really galling part: Many of those blindly loyal Democrats who always gave Obama a pass while he was shipping immigrants out of the country faster than FedEx, and are still giving him a pass by rewriting history, have rediscovered their liberal outrage. And they know just where to aim it – at President Trump and his administration.
After Kelly confirmed that he was considering a plan to separate women and children who illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border to discourage parents from making the journey, the Obama loyalists fumed and asked: Who would be so cruel as to separate families?
You mean, besides the Democratic president you voted for twice? Obama didn’t break up families at the border. He let them get settled in the interior first. Then he broke them up.
One Facebook friend, a Democratic strategist, declared his heart broken and asked: “What type of human being preys on and damages the soul and psyche and self-esteem of children? The voiceless? The powerless?” To Trump supporters, he said: “All of you should be ashamed, and, if there is a hell, there will be a special spot waiting for many of you.” He ended his note by imploring: “STOP THE HATE!”
Another Facebook friend, who worked for the Obama administration, declared the Trump team “corrupt, cruel, racist and as they say in Spanish sinverguenzas (shameless).” Then he added: “I rarely say hate, but I HATE this administration” which he called a “freak show” full of “heartless demagogues ushering in a horribly dark chapter in our history.”
But my favorite response was from Thomas Perez, the former Labor Secretary and newly elected chair of the Democratic National Committee. When a young girl was apprehended after revealing that she was undocumented, Perez tweeted: “She was arrested after speaking to the media, and now she will be deported without a hearing. This is not America.”
To which, I would respond:
“Dear Mr. Perez, someone hasn’t been paying attention. You’re a fraud and a partisan hack. I’m sorry that recent events in Trump Land have awakened you from your slumber. But, this is America and – for the last eight years – it has been America. Under the Obama administration that you served – including, ironically, a stint as the assistant attorney general for civil rights – this kind of horror story played out nearly 3 million times. That’s not on Trump. That’s on you.”
It’s on all of you. For everyone who stayed quiet for the last eight years, why don’t you stick with that approach?
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.