By Wim Laven
A recent look at the GOP’s platform on immigration was quite heartbreaking; they want to break up and damage good families. I thought about the people I know, mothers and fathers who’d be deported—if Donald Trump gets his way—and dozens of kids left behind. I took a deeper look at what he’d like to do with legal immigration and felt like crying: if Donald could, he’d have deported my mother.
I think I’d be safe. I’m a U.S. citizen born abroad, but, despite a whole career of service to the communities she’d spent decades living in, my mother—the greatest woman I’ve ever known—would not be allowed in Trump’s vision for America. We’re white and his vision might not apply to her; his focus has been on people with darker skin and from specific countries. Still, knowing my own mother was an immigrant makes Trump’s treatment of immigrant and refugee mothers of any color feel quite personal to me.
Like thousands of other mothers who hope to come to the US, my mother has never been in a gang or done anything illegal. She was a psychiatric nurse. She took a legal pathway to citizenship, but as best as I can tell she is exactly the kind of person (estimates suggest 20 million immigrants would be impacted) the Trump-led GOP plan would target. Trump doesn’t want a human face on immigration, that is why he calls the targets of his plans “animals” and the GOP leaders back him up. When he says: “You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” It is a nefarious GOP trick; when he is challenged for his racist statement the GOP can accuse Democrats of defending criminals and wanting “open borders.”
Dirty tricks are old strategy. During the Red Scare of McCarthyism paranoia was created by releasing information on the number of communists pushing subversive policies in Congress. During this scare the numbers changed on a regular basis, and people were left debating “how many are there?” But the truth turned out to be that it was all manufactured. It is similar to the chicanery used in connecting the Democratic party to its racist history. The Democratic party had to undergo a serious evolution to break from being the party of the KKK and resistance to the Republican party’s reconstruction in order to become the party of civil rights and equality, but it did. The underhanded ploy is making the 1916 Democratic party association to the Klan more important than the Klans endorsement of Trump in 2016.
We must put the real faces to the story and force the GOP to be honest just like Democrats had to be forthcoming about its racist inequality in the 1960’s. It isn’t easy, but it is honest. Blocking mothers from immigrating to our land is just wrong. All the falsehoods smearing a handful of hateful cases onto thousands of law-abiding families won’t wash to anyone who looks with clear and critical eyes at the facts and at the family values we claim to possess.
It is time for Republicans to go through a period like Democrats did. The GOP needs to evolve to stop supporting the hateful policies, rhetoric, and vision of the divisive president. The GOP could use a Kennedy moment, in 1963 JFK said: “One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression.” It outraged many white southerners, but the country needed to progress toward equality. Anyone who honestly believes in family values needs to be in the streets using nonviolent resistance to protect these families and good people being threatened. Nobody gets off easy, this is too important. A strong message needs to be sent and it would be great if conservatives would share in the message of an American Dream and freedom for everyone.