I hope President Donald Trump enjoyed his Valentine’s Day. Because he ruined mine.
You see, on the romantic holiday, my wife gave me a present straight from the heart: a harsh scolding. And I’ve received the same gift from her each day since.
She’s on my case because she thinks I haven’t been tough enough on Trump for some heavy-handed things that he and his administration did right out of the gate.
They include the recent headline-grabbing crackdowns that resulted in the detention of hundreds of undocumented immigrants. Immigration officials claim that these were not indiscriminate sweeps, but rather targeted operations aimed at specific individuals. They also say this sort of thing is just standard operating procedure, and that it was not tied to executive orders from Trump.
That’s possible. These crackdowns take a lot of planning, and it’s hard to believe all the blueprints got drawn up in the less than four weeks since Trump was sworn in.
My wife isn’t buying it. Along with many other Americans, she thinks these recent and disturbing events have a familiar brand name written all over them: “TRUMP.”
“The way this man is handling things is very overtly racist,” she said. “He’s only getting rid of, or trying to keep out, people who are a different color.”
She sees a clear connection between two recent stories – these immigration-enforcement efforts and Trump’s controversial executive order establishing a travel ban from seven predominantly Muslim countries. And it frustrates her that I don’t make that connection.
As my biggest fan and toughest critic, my wife doesn’t hesitate to let me have it with both barrels when she thinks I’m missing something. And since she is smarter and more intuitive than me, she’s usually right – a trait that annoys me to no end.
This time, what my wife – who was born in Mexico and came to the United States with her mother and sisters legally as a child – thinks I’m missing is that Trump is no ordinary president and that the fear that is currently sweeping through America’s immigrant communities is not, as I have written, business as usual.
“You need to recognize what’s going on, and admit that this is something completely different,” she tells me.
It really sets her off when, during a conversation about Trump, I bring up President Barack Obama and list similar things that he did and note how the liberal media tended to ignore it.
“Move on from Obama!” she shouts. “He’s not president anymore. Trump is president now, and you need to say that what he is doing is wrong and that people are scared.”
She’s right. Much of this is new ground. But some of what we’re experiencing, however, is just another example of presidents doing what they’re prone to do – grab more power.
And the reason I bring up Obama is to point out that some of the people who are expressing worry about Trump’s behavior didn’t seem to have a problem with anything Obama did. That makes them phonies who are opportunistically seizing on the immigration issue to batter Trump.
I recently read two different stories about Immigration and Customs Enforcement detaining victims of domestic violence who only wound up in the tight grip of law enforcement because they called police to protect them from their abusive husbands. One story was from this past week, and it reflects badly on Trump. The other was from six years ago, and it reflects just as badly on Obama.
According to my wife, my blind spot comes from the fact that I was born on this side of the border.
“You don’t get it,” she said. “You’re an American. You’ve never had someone put you in a room and question you like you’re a criminal, even when you have a green card. You’re not going to get it until everyone you know gets picked up and taken away.”
Wow. That’s not going to happen. Or is it? What do I know? I said the same thing about a Trump presidency.
I want Trump to succeed at some things he has planned, and fail at others. Most of all, I want to give him a chance.
“A chance to do what?” my wife asks incredulously. “To do more damage? This is a bad man.”
Pray for the White House. But while you’re at it, put in a good word for our house, where it’s going to be a long four years.
Ruben Navarrette can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.