It’s not about Unmaking Immigrants Citizens, But Keeping Congress

Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Trump couldn’t care less that the 14th Amendment says that those born in the U.S. are citizens. He certainly knows that it takes congressional action to alter or erase a constitutional amendment. That means a 2/3 majority in the House and Senate. After that it must go to the states for approval. 3/4th of them must approve it. That means 38 states. That’s not going to happen. But then again Trump knows that and could care less about that or even whether immigrants born in the U.S. are citizens or not.

This hare-brained ploy is just that another one of Trump’s seemingly bottomless bag of ploys to get even more media attention if that’s possible, whip up even more hysteria about immigrants, and rev up his base. The end game of the fear mongering is to elect enough Republicans to keep Congress.  And what better way to do it? The immigration fear campaign got him elected. The fear campaign has also got a lot of other Republicans elected over the years. It’s the one battle tested method to get media and public attention in the run up to a crucial election.

This election go around, Trump has tossed several absurdities up against the wall to stir enough panic to get just enough of his people to the polls. He’s railed at his favorite whipping boy the mainstream as fake news and being responsible for mail bombs and shooting massacres. He’s subtly stoked the notion that the Democrats in collusion with the mainstream media sent the bombs to themselves to garner voter sympathy and tar him and the GOP. He then wallowed in the gutter again by calling the Black Democratic contender for governor in Florida a thief.  

But this is all too chancy when it comes to creating enough passion to tip the vote scales toward the GOP in the two dozen or so hotly contested congressional races that will decide whether the GOP keeps control of the House or not. No, immigration is always the far better bet for stoking the divisions. That’s Trump’s main weapon. The timing for this couldn’t be better. You have a caravan of thousands of immigrants fleeing Central American countries. The press is filled with pictures and stories of them fording rivers, tromping down dusty highways, and braving all the elements on their march through Mexico to the U.S. border. Every step of their way, Trump has saber-rattled the Mexican government, the Central American states governments, and the immigrants themselves with aid cuts, troop deployment, and massive arrests and swift deportation. However, that’s not enough. Trump needed one more ingredient to toss into the volatile political mix to really hammer immigrants. That’s the ridiculous scheme to scrap the 14th amendment

But will it work? The debate over whether illegal immigrants whether born in the U.S. or not has been a never-ending one for decades. Trump was hardly the first to raise it. Like every other aspect of the immigration debate, it’s an issue for two reasons. One, the effort to get a comprehensive immigration law that would put to rest what and how immigrants should be treated in the US has been virtually a non-starter for years. The other reason is the deep fear that immigrants are taking jobs, hogging public and health services, running down public education, and are committing murder and mayhem in the country. Trump and the GOP has played hard on these fictions and lies to keep the public aroused and on edge over illegal immigration.

Trump has done one better with this. He’s relentlessly tarred the Democrats as the one’s who voters should blame for this supposed nightmare scenario within the country’s border. This seems plausible enough to many, because Democrats generally have been the most outspoken in defense of immigrant rights and the push back against Trump and the GOP on it. The downside for the Democrats is that it has forced Democratic candidates to spend much time warding off attacks on them from GOP opponents as being soft on immigrant lawbreakers.

Now, that Trump has upped the ante with the scheme to go after immigrants born here, this creates as it is designed to do, yet another distraction that Democrats are forced to deal with in the days before the mid-terms. Trump will be on the campaign trail and almost certainly will milk the issue for all it’s worth. He’ll rant at the media for coddling illegal immigrants by calling his scheme exactly what it is, a cheap, crass and cynical ploy to elect Republicans in the crucial must win districts. He’ll call names, hurl insults, and beat down Democrats wherever he can on the issue of immigration. And GOP leaders will say and do absolutely nothing to rein him in. He’s their bread and butter to keep their congressional jobs. Immigrants, citizens or not, 14th Amendment or not, be damned.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of Make a Democratic Blue Wave More than Talk (Amazon) He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.


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