Liberal-left Hypocrisy on Immigration: Obama vs. Trump

By Arturo Gal

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By Arturo Gal, for FRN – The first myth we have to debunk, when it comes to the current North American migration policy, is the thought that under Obama’s administration there was much more tolerance towards migration than under Trump, and even that his policies were protecting the rights of immigrants. Exploring and understanding this point leads to some fascinating conclusions about the intentional confusion being promoted by the liberal establishment and the deep-state.

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To start this debate at this particular point may seem not that important, but the issue of immigration is not a one man´s policy, but one of an entire system, a system that will always violate the human rights of immigrants as human beings. Contrary to his promises during his campaign (from which he largely profited) Obama carried out an anti-immigration policy with much cynicism.

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This intolerant policy of Obama is very easy to perceive on his so called “Sanctuary cities” project, the raise on the budget for border security, the raise of agents in the border patrol as well as border security personal in general, the reinforcement of the physical border with Mexico and the tolerance to anti-immigration state laws.

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Under Obama more than 32,000 Mexicans were deported alone during the first 3 months of his mandate. Around 3 million people were deported while Obama sat on the presidential chair for 8 years. This means that Obama deported more immigrants than all other presidents for the last 30 years combined (among them Reagan, George Herbert. W Bush and his son George W. Bush)..

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It is under this premise that Trump comes into scene. A candidate which came into power with another discourse: an honest discourse. Trump doesn’t want nor needs to hide his anti-immigrant policy behind the veil of liberalism. On the contrary, he promised this narrow policy to his electorate, and he is determined to deliver. The contradiction here is that the US economic collapse ten years ago already triggered a massive decline in actual migration to the US. So by the time Trump comes into the picture, he is campaigning on what was already increasingly a non-issue. In that sense alone, perhaps, his rhetoric is rather harmless by comparison to the outright confusion sewn by Obama who pretended to be a friend to migrants, when the opposite is true.

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For this purpose Trump paused or canceled most of Obama´s programs on immigration. The majority of Obama´s initiatives were nothing but a façade (like the DACA program among others) and would have never resolved the immigration problem but they represented a hope for thousands of “dreamers” (from the “dream act”), who for some reasons still wanted to believe in Obama.

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In this context Trump is only following the immigration policy, which was outlined in the “Merida Initiative”, a treaty that was signed under G.W. Bush and Felipe Calderon and still had currency under the administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. In the frame of this initiative, American agencies like the CIA, FBI, DEA and the Pentagon are allowed to carry on intelligence operations on Mexican soil.

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Originally was said that the purpose of such activities was the fight against the drug cartels, but with time new tasks were assigned. In particular on the border issue, the Mexican Institute for Immigration (INAMI) was given the responsibility of identifying and capturing illegal immigrants. To achieve this goal the Mexican government received American biometric identification technology, other resources as well as training. All this with the supposed intention that Mexico becomes the first barrier against the influx of illegal immigrants, especially of Central America who have to cross its territory to get to the United States. However, in reality – as the US shows signs of increasing collapse and the US police state grows, such security provisions, biometrics, and face identifying programs at the US border, like those which Mexico will use on its southern border, will be used to keep US citizens trapped inside the US, much more than it will be meant to identify those wishing to enter an increasingly dangerous and impoverished place to live.

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Under this complicated context and international framework is that the human rights of immigrants from Mexico and everywhere else are violated on daily basis. Under normal conditions, we may be right to say that a country, the US, has the right to determine who enters its country, and upon what conditions. But when the US has maintained a long-term and dedicated policy entirely against the sovereignty of its neighbor, interfering in elections and funding lethal Narco trafficking gangs, creating a nearly failed state, the ethical, moral, and possibly legal framework changes.

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The decisions in this regard from the Trump administration have worsened the whole situation in general in terms of perception, optics, and messaging – perhaps in a place that panders to some portion of his base, to the point in which horrifying images of caged kids detained in deportation centers have been made public. But this, too, is nothing new.

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Here is to be noted that the only new part are the pictures, because the separation of kids and parents was already taking place under Obama. Of course that the largely affected group are the Mexican immigrants because they make up the majority of them (around 5, 6 Millions in 2016). After being deported a lot them try to get back to the US immediately or after spending some time on the border area in Mexico. Some of them will stay invariably in these areas and will be eventually assimilated. Some others, because of poverty and lack of resources will fall into the hands of drug dealers and human traffickers either as victims or victimizers themselves.

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The wall, that was so advertised during the campaign, with the exception of  Media theatrics, hasn’t had any real impact nor had made any difference even today.

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This is mainly because of three reasons: first, there has always been a physical border, which is strongly over watched at least on the most important posts along the frontier line. Secondly, the wall can’t stop people legally entering the country through the border, which they cross every day, and the issue is about over-staying visas. Third, the desire for migrants from Mexico to enter the US has decreased dramatically since the US economic collapse. Trump’s weak dollar policy also makes migration less interesting, if the goal is to send money back home, which is often the case.

In this regard the wall topic will continue to stay exclusively in the media’s imaginary construction. The wall per-se has become on a certain level a mere symbol of Trump´s immigration policy. This so called “immigration Trumpism” is used by the Mexican political system, especially through the government aligned Media, to somehow represent the President of Mexico as an immigrant rights warrior. Therefore Peña Nieto or the Director of Mexico´s domestic affairs office appear from time to time live on TV to throw some hollow rhetoric about the rights of Mexican immigrants. It fits well – one strokes the other.

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Truth is without a doubt, that the signature of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the USA and Canada have worsened Mexico´s economy as a consequences to the series of privatizations that took place under the premise of Mexico’s liberalization of its economy. A huge amount of steady jobs went lost and with-it millions were thrown into poverty. This neoliberal capitalism, which was imposed into Mexico for more than 30 years now, haven´t been able to resolve the problem of migration, and it will never do it because is largely the cause of the problem.

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Only a new conception of the economy and wealth redistribution, in other words, another production modus, could effectively stop the exodus of the Mexican people to the US. The now new elected president of Mexico, Andres Manuel López Obrador, who won the election under a left wing coalition, has already stated that Trump´s immigration policy is a racist one. Obrador´s strategy to fight the immigration issue is a different economic policy. He considers, that an especial economic zone at the border is necessary and that only the industrial and economic development of the country could upgrade the conditions of the population, and so resolving then the issue of migration effectively. In his analysis is Obrador without a doubt right. Now that he achieved a crushing electoral victory last July the 1st is going to be time to go from words to action.

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