It was expected that in his first speech broadcast from the Oval Office, Donald Trump would declare a national emergency with respect to the situation at the southern border, but this did not happen. In fact, the real surprise was that, for a moment, we saw the businessman and reality TV star assume the role of a normal president. It was almost like being in the presence of any other politician.
Trump described the situation at the border as a growing humanitarian crisis. In fact, he acknowledged the enriching effect of immigrants on his country. He voiced concern for African-Americans and Latino workers. He expressed regret over the sexual assaults suffered by female immigrants on their journey north, and remarked that politicians and the wealthy do not put walls and railings around their homes “because they hate the people on the outside, but because they love the people on the inside.”
However, Trump’s presidential demeanor was short-lived, and he soon began accusing immigrants of being drug addicts, rapists and murderers, and of having a negative impact on his country’s economy. In general, he blamed them for virtually all of American society’s ills before asking, “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”
First, even if it were true that Trump did not hate outsiders in general, this is certainly not true of Mexicans, as he insults us at every opportunity. As for his concern for women, he must have been referring to those in his family because, as is common knowledge, the head of state has boasted that, when in the presence of women, he likes to grab their genitals.
There was absolutely nothing novel or newsworthy in his speech. No one understands why the White House asked the television networks to broadcast it during prime time since in reality it was a futile endeavor. The president did not announce what people long for most: an end to the government shutdown, which is now in its third week. Nor did he give any new reason for his stubborn resolve to build a wall along the Mexican border.
As predicted, the man in the White House lied, beginning with a description of the heinous crimes that, according to him, are committed by large numbers of immigrants. Statistics show, however, that foreigners tend to commit fewer offenses, including murder and other forms of violent crime, than those that were born and raised here.
Trump spoke repeatedly about the lack of security at the border, but figures show that far fewer people entered the country illegally during the fiscal year that ended in September 2018 than in 2014 and 2016. In contrast, the figures show that the number of individuals that entered the country legally and remained here, even after their visas had expired, doubled during this period.
The president stated that the southern border was the entry point for all manner of drugs, claiming that this was the reason for the 300 deaths caused by heroin overdoses that occur in the U.S. each week. And while it is a proven fact that 90 percent of the heroin in the U.S. does come from Mexico, it comes through legal ports of entry, including airports, meaning that a wall would not stop it.
The idea of making Mexico pay for the wall was the most successful line of his campaign. However, once he had grasped that he would not get a penny from the Mexican government, Trump claimed that Mexico would pay indirectly through the new trade agreement it had signed alongside Canada last November, which will supposedly generate a great deal of revenue for the United States. The trouble is that the agreement has not yet been approved by Congress, it is uncertain whether it will ever be approved, and even if it is, financial experts doubt whether it will, in fact, be as profitable as claimed.
Trump’s desperate maneuver to appear presidential simply did not work. His message was the same as ever: immigrants without documentation are a scourge, and only a wall can keep them in check. According to most statistics, only 30 percent, or in some cases, 40 percent, of his fellow citizens support the construction of a wall, and 50 percent are against it.
The real national crisis, say his opponents, lies in climate change, which Trump refuses to acknowledge, the endless problem of racial discrimination, the lack of access to medical care affecting 30 million Americans, and the fact that half of the elderly population has no savings to live on. And these issues have nothing to do with immigrants.