Read this NYT opinion piece by Will Wilkinson. The gist of it is that this brutal machinery of immigration "policy" has been in place at least since the time of George W. Bush. Trump is taking an already difficult and harsh structrual problem and making it downright cruel. Obama does have the distinction of deporting more immigrants than any prior president - 2 million deportations over eight years. In 2014 he sought almost $900M (among other large items) to detain and deport families. The border machinery has been there for years, starting after the 9/11 attacks. However, seems like a key difference is that the Obama adminstration did not appear to separate families as Trump claims. A useful comparison between the two administrations on this issue is here. And - Obama didn't trade in the language of hate and use phrases that imply that immigrants are somehow "pests" and subhuman.
The tweet from Trump below - I didn't see this until today - talks about people "infesting" the United States. This is the type of language that the Nazis would use in justifying their crimes against humanity. A lot of things coming out of the Administration are scary - but we should not ignore the trading in this type of messaging.
This, on top of the fact that undocumented immigrant labor underpins key parts of the economy, and are often underpaid and working in harsh conditions - wondering how you get those fresh huge packs of strawberries for only $4? At the same time, these workers are castigated as a drain on the economy, painted as criminals, and forced into a scary existince where they could be taken at a moment's notice. And this is before Trump started taking children from families.
All of this is to say that I do agree that Congress needs to actually undertake long overdue, humane immigration reform that recognizes workers' essential contributions to our economy and not forcing them into a dark existence. At the same time, there does need to be an orderly process for how people are admitted into the country. Temporary work visas can make this possible. Immigrant workers must be entitled to the same pay and safety conditions as citizens and permanent residents. It is in this way a fair, just and compassionate system can be implemented. Those who hold a continuous mode of employment for a period of years could have a path to citizenship. After all, if the GOP really does value hard work as they claim they do, then let's let folks work in the full light of day and help our economy and industries grow, and reward them for wanting to be a part of the American fabric. Let's not spit on the people who have worked harder in a week then most of Congress does in a year. Instead, we must recoginze and respect our friends who help us every single day. I want you to get mad, stay mad, and speak up. And VOTE in November.