Breaking News
EDITORIAL

Trump on Immigrants

On Wednesday, United States President Donald Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during the course of a White House meeting, warning that “dangerous people” were clamouring to breach the country’s borders and branded them as “animals”. He said, inter alia: “We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in. We’re stopping a lot of them. You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people; these are animals, and we are taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.” Donald Trump’s comments came during a discussion with State and local leaders on California’s so-called sanctuary laws, which strictly limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers, and which the Trump administration is suing to invalidate. Trump vented his ire on the nation’s immigration laws calling them “the dumbest laws on immigration in the world”. He also exhorted his administration to “do much better” in keeping out undesirable people, including members of transnational gangs like MS-13. It is hardly surprising that the local officials invited for the event should have taken turns at praising Trump’s immigration policies and lamenting California’s law, arguing that it was making it more difficult for their communities to find and deport criminals.

Donald Trump seems to have forgotten that the United States of America as it is today was created a few centuries ago by large-scale immigration from Europe. Those were days when immigration laws had not been formulated well enough to keep out the kind of ‘animals’ that Donald Trump referred to on Wednesday. Most of the people who migrated from Europe to America did not have any immigration documents or need such documents. They just took the next available ship from some European port to New York city or other ports in the present United States. Had Donald Trump been talking about immigrants in those days, he would have had no reason to talk about ‘undocumented’ immigrants or to call them ‘animals’ as he is doing now. Besides, Donald Trump must not forget that his own ancestors who had migrated to the United States were the same kind of undocumented immigrants that he presumes to call ‘animals’ now.
Undocumented immigration is taking place all over the world today, and even the United States of America, the most powerful nation in the world, has been unable to totally prevent illegal immigration from other countries even today. Large-scale illegal immigration from Mexico or from several South American countries to the United States has been going on for decades without the US government being able to do very much about preventing such immigration. Undocumented or illegal migration generally takes place because people in less developed or poorer countries generally nurse the ambition of migrating to more prosperous countries or countries that provide better opportunities for hard-working and ambitious people. While migrating to another country without travel documents or overstaying in such countries well beyond the dates stipulated in their visas is certainly a crime, it is not a heinous crime like murder or rape, and judges all over the world tend to take a more lenient view of migrants without travel documents or migrants who have long overstayed their visa limits. The penal provisions for such crimes are much lower than those for more serious crimes. Be that as it may, it is certainly the duty of all governments throughout the world to be far stricter about illegal migration than they are today. This is to ensure that administrations all over the world are not adversely affected by the presence of very large numbers of illegal migrants. Assam will probably remain a classic example of what can happen to a State that has failed to deal with illegal immigration over decades mainly because of political leaders and bureaucrats who had no compunctions whatsoever about handing over the land of their birth to millions of foreigners whose migration to their State they encouraged with deplorable callousness about their responsibilities and their apathy for serious and sustained work.

About the author

Ankur Kalita