There is some hypocrisy to the way Trump is handling the caravan approaching our southern border. To the casual observer, Trump is making a sales pitch, and he’s barking a pitch that the military will protect us from a vulnerable group of immigrants fleeing their violent and impoverished homeland. Implied in Trump’s message is that those people in the caravan are going to storm the border to get in. Trump claims patriotism, and I recall long ago, that someone told me that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.
While some reports — The Guardian has a good example here — have noted that the members of the caravan are fleeing a Central American homeland torn by poverty, corruption, violence from the drug war, few of them really bother to explain how that came to be. For many decades, American intelligence and its mighty military have been running interference against Central American governments that do not align themselves with American foreign interests.
America is also one of the biggest customers in the world for the illegal drug trade. The drugs we buy are grown in places like South America, and they pass through Central America along the way. Some of our largest banks, HSCB comes to mind, have laundered money for the drug cartels. Yet here we are, decrying the refugees of the war on drugs.
American armed forces have been deployed for numerous interventions in South and Central America. American funds have been sent to support “anti-communist” forces, only to be diverted to unaccountable authorities in the target countries.
And it’s not just South America. America has military bases all over the world. America is one of the most influential countries in the world. Who can name a failed state where American intelligence or military were not there to see to the failure of that state to begin with?
Some say that we are the world’s policeman. If that is so, our sword has two edges: one for good and one for bad. We complain about Russian interference in our elections yet turn a blind eye to all the elections we have interfered with around the world. We complain about corrupt governments around the world, yet turn a blind eye to the money we send to those countries as foreign aid. We complain about the conflict in the Middle East, yet turn a blind eye to all the weapons we sell there.
And don’t forget that Trump has already admitted that he has given millions in campaign contributions to both Democrats and Republicans. As a billionaire, he has had enormous influence on public policy, decisions that have played a part in the lives of the men, women and children in the caravan, seeking a better life. Will Trump separate the children from their parents to punish them for showing up at our border without invitation?
We simply do not have clean hands in this situation. The best thing we can do is help the people in the caravan when they reach the border. Let them make an application for asylum. Do the background checks. Check for weapons (you won’t find any). Give them due process. Give them a chance.
I’ve seen how immigrants can grow here, given the chance. Immigrants relieved of the threat of war, violence and corruption, will often settle down as here as hard working Americans. They will find work here that they could not find in what was before, their home. They will take jobs that most Americans refuse to do, anyway.
I’ve seen immigrants come and make a better life here than they had in their homeland. I know one who fled the violence of his country when he was five and he is now going to school and prospering at work. I knew another who left Romania by hiding in the ceiling of a train crossing the border, when Romania was still a communist country. He taught gymnastics in the United States. I’ve met people from Vietnam, China and Thailand and they all prospered here. When I was a union sheet metal worker, I met many hard working Mexican immigrants and worked alongside them. They too, have found ways to prosper through work.
We are a nation of immigrants, and there is nothing that Trump can say or do to change that. Oddly, he has nothing to say about American support of the drug war or the corrupt leaders that gave rise to the conditions that the members of the caravan are fleeing.
We are the melting pot of people and ideas. Who knows how those people in the caravan will serve our country if they are given a fresh start here?