The high cost of Trump’s pointless war on immigrants, sanctuary cities

By Editorial Board

President Donald Trump’s war on immigrants began almost as soon as he stepped into office, and it’s obvious he considers this the most important priority for his administration, culminating in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent threats against sanctuary cities on April 21. 

Trump signed a Feb. 23 executive order hiring 10,000 new U.S. Immigrations and Custom Enforcement agents and 5,000 new Border Patrol agents. According to an April 16 Washington Post article, ICE agents arrested 21,362 immigrants from January to mid-March compared with the 16,104 arrested during the same period in 2016. While these were mostly convicted criminals, the arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to 5,441.

This is distinctly different from former President Barack Obama’s standards for deporting undocumented immigrants. Obama prioritized the deportation of undocumented immigrants who had committed serious, violent crimes while immigration agents under Trump plan to arrest those who possess fraudulent visa documents, have illegally re-entered the country or have been charged with, but not convicted of, a crime. 

Trump has portrayed immigrants as drug dealers, criminals and rapists all while spending billions of taxpayer dollars. His plan to build a wall between America and Mexico is seemingly his first priority, but Trump has also opened the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office, which is designed to track crimes committed by undocumented immigrants and serve victims of criminal acts committed by immigrants. He also reportedly plans to expand programs and facilities for detained asylum-seeking immigrants.

Trump’s dedication to deporting immigrants promotes the false notion that immigration is the most pressing problem facing the U.S. today. Sessions threatened the defunding of grants to sanctuary cities—such as Philadelphia, New York City and Chicago—if police don’t provide proof of communication with federal authorities regarding undocumented immigrants.

The letter, sent to nine jurisdictions, is deliberately targeting these cities as if providing a safe place for people is punishable. In response, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from withholding sanctuary city funding as unconstitutional. 

America thrives on the culture and economic growth immigrants bring. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, based on an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, immigrants held almost $927 billion in consumer spending power.

There should be no “us versus them” mantra, which this administration has been preaching to the easily influenced. Trump and his supporters would rather immigrants fear losing the lives they’ve built than give them new options and opportunities to stay.

ICE agents are reportedly disorganized and overworked, according to an April 20 LA Times article. The deportation policies and procedures are also outdated and unclear, according to the inspector general of the Homeland Security Department. DREAMers—described by Obama as top high school graduates who were illegally brought into the country by their parents at age five and know the U.S. as their homeland—are being plucked off the street by agents who are inadequately trained to do so.

This is not a president acting through care for his country. Instead, this is blind hatred, which will scar America for decades to come.