Anti-immigrant rhetoric more damaging than shutdown

Trevor Kanter

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The largest group of migrants from South America crossed the border by digging tunnels underneath already-constructed wall in Arizona. The proposed immigration deal from Trump requested almost six billion dollars in funding. Photo courtesy of

The United States federal government has entered its fifth week of partial shutdown over unresolved disputes between Congress and President Trump over the construction of a wall along the southern border of the US. The border wall, a project that Trump adamantly promised to deliver on during his campaign, would cost the US $5.7 billion.

Throughout the shutdown, Trump has used his international platform to spread lies and generate fear about our border with Mexico – claiming that masses of criminals are crossing into our country unimpeded. However, his Twitter storms and Fox News interviews in support of the wall haven’t had much of an effect on the Democrats in the House of Representatives. There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Trump even threatened to declare a national emergency to get his money, but he seems to have backed away for now because there is no emergency. It was just a political play that looks to have failed.

However, what worries me more than the potential declaration of a national emergency or the wall itself is the rhetoric villainizing immigrants who just want a chance to work in the US. Trump has painted them as druggies, gang members, rapists and murderers even when studies have shown the opposite. This country is great because of immigrants; it’s great because of cultural diffusion and the “melting pot.” The United States used to be revered around the world as a haven of freedom. People can practice whatever religion they want, speak out and demonstrate against the government and have the freedom to report the truth to the public. Aggressively targeting minority ethnic groups, practices of religion and the media for “fake news” (even when it’s not at all fake) goes against the very foundation of the USA. It’s not patriotic and absolutely does not make this country great; it’s simple yet harmful nationalism.

Hate crimes have risen and continue to rise under the Trump administration. Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe it’s because the President of the United States told the country that they would be raped and killed by an immigrant, or because he claimed that there was violence and aggression “from both sides” in the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally a few years ago. Could it be that the President’s softness towards hate groups and rampant tirades against minorities has contributed to the increase in hate crimes?

I understand that politicians are pressured to deliver on campaign promises. Trump is doing what his supporters voted him into power to do. However, the repercussions of this shutdown, which Trump has threatened to continue for “months or even years,” are catastrophic for the American people. While the President whines about a fake crisis at the southern border, a real crisis is taking form. Thousands of federal workers are turning to food banks to feed their families because they haven’t been paid in more than a month. Not to mention the long list of essential government functions that have been shut down, such as the FDA’s routine inspections and regulations.

I hope to see an end to this disaster soon, but I’m skeptical. Trump seems as confident as ever– even tweeting 40 times in one day about how right he is and how much everyone loves and supports him. On the other side, the Democrats are trying to make a statement and stick it to the man.

There will be no winners in the end. Both sides will be blamed by each other for the suffering of 800,000 federal workers and the little guys, the immigrants, will lose again. For now, my sights are set on 2020.