State of the Union 2018 – A New Trump on Immigration?

Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Unlike the Donald Trump that we have all come to know over the last year, or so, Trump remained focused on the teleprompter without delving too much off script. We have seen this version of Trump before and it’ll be a few more days before we see if he remains under control, or if he becomes the Donald Trump we’ve all come to expect – you know the erratic one. For the most part, Trump came across as reasonable and looking to unify the divided country. Maybe, it just might be possible that Trump version 3.0 will be the one to bring sanity back to the country.

Although Trump is still fixated on The Wall, he also talked about immigration reform. During the State of the Union speech, Trump talked about keeping the bad apples out, of reforming immigration and basing it on a merit-based system over diversification classes that drives immigration today. If we are to take Trump’s public pronouncements about immigrants from the past, i.e. Mexican “rapists” and Muslim “terrorists,” not to mention “shit hole countries” then we should be concerned about what Donald Trump really means when he says he wants immigration reform to focus on immigrants that make the country a better place.

What the future immigrants will be, under Trump, is up for debate because Trump did not offer specificity, instead focusing on platitudes. For example, as an immigrant, I have no problem with MS-13 members (by the way not from México) being kept out of the country. They, after all, make no distinction between citizens and immigrants when they go on a rampage. As an immigrant I have no problem with keeping immigrants, such as myself, off welfare and other benefits provided that excluding immigrants from benefits is based on the fairness about immigrants not paying into the system for those benefits and not because immigrants should not benefit from paying into a system.

But when an immigrant family pays property taxes, through owning or renting, they are contributing to the school tax base like all other citizens. Excluding their kids from school is punitive and not about fairness. Likewise, keeping me off social security benefits because I did not contribute the required amounts makes sense because the benefit is based on your contributions into the system via taxation and withholdings.

The problem is not demanding that immigrants contribute into the system, but in what determination is used to exclude certain immigrants while allowing others in.

Much has been made about a “merit-based” system for immigration. How do you define “merit-based”? For example, there is no question that immigrants play large-part in the agricultural fields and in the service sectors of the economy. Immigrants contribute to the rising economy of the United States by working in those economic sectors.

Does a “merit-based” system include low-skilled workers, or is the merit-system just a keyword for immigrants who are highly educated, i.e. well-to-do, or English speakers, or who act and look like the ideal of someone’s version of an American? There in lies the danger to labels such as “merit-based” systems. How is the merit defined?

Much is also said about the “lottery system” that intentionally, or not, created a system where Mexicans are back-logged 20 years or more before they can immigrate. Yet, the jobs are beckoning for the Mexican labor.

Much is also said about the “chain migration” system that is in place today. As an immigrant with two siblings born in the United States and both parents naturalized as U.S. citizens, I did not benefit from “chain migration” because of how the law is implemented. Of my nuclear family, I remain the only one not a U.S. citizen. In a later post, I’ll explain how “chain migration” and the

Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night. Unlike the Donald Trump that we have all come to know over the last years, or so, Trump remained focused on the teleprompter without delving too much off script. We have seen this version of Trump before and it’ll be a few more days before we see if he remains under control, or if he becomes the Donald Trump we’ve all come to expect – you know the erratic one. For the most part, Trump came across as reasonable and looking to unify the divided country. Maybe, it just might be possible that Trump version 3.0 will be the one to bring sanity back to the presidency.

Although Trump is still fixated on The Wall, he also talked about immigration reform. During the State of the Union speech, Trump talked about keeping the bad apples out, of reforming immigration and basing it on a merit-based system over diversification classes that drives immigration today. If we are to take Trump’s public pronouncements about immigrants from the past, i.e. Mexican “rapists” and Muslim “terrorists,” not to mention “shit hole countries” then we should be concerned about what Donald Trump really means when he says he wants immigration reform to focus on immigrants that make the country a better place.

What those immigrants will be is up for debate because Trump did not offer specificity, instead focusing on platitudes. For example, as an immigrant, I have no problem with MS-13 members (by the way not from México) being kept out of the country. They after all, they make no distinction between citizens and immigrants when they go on a rampage. As an immigrant I have no problem with keeping immigrants, such as myself, off welfare and other benefits provided that excluding immigrants from benefits is based on the fairness about immigrants not paying into the system for those benefits.

But when an immigrant family pays property taxes, through owning or renting, they are contributing to the school tax base like all other citizens. Excluding their kids from school is punitive and not about fairness. Likewise, keeping me off social security benefits because I did not contribute the required amounts makes sense because the benefit is based on your contributions into the system via taxation and withholdings.

The problem is not demanding that immigrants contribute into the system, but in what determination is used to exclude certain immigrants while allowing others in.

Much has been made about a “merit-based” system for immigration. How do you define “merit-based”? For example, there is no question that immigrants play large-part in the agricultural fields and in the service sectors of the economy. Immigrants contribute to the rising economy of the United States by working in those economic sectors.

Does a “merit-based” system include low-skilled workers, or is the merit-system just a keyword for immigrants who are highly educated, i.e. well-to-do, or English speakers, or who act and look like the ideal of someone’s version of an American? There in lies the danger to labels such as “merit-based” systems. How is the merit defined?

Much is also said about the “lottery system” that intentionally, or not, created a system where Mexicans are back-logged 20 years or more before they can immigrate. Yet, the jobs are beckoning for the Mexican labor.

Much is also said about the “chain migration” system that is in place today. As an immigrant with two siblings born in the United States and both parents naturalized as U.S. citizens, I did not benefit from “chain migration” because of how the law is implemented. Of my nuclear family, I remain the only one not a U.S. citizen. In a later post, I’ll explain how “chain migration” and the “lottery” system is misunderstood and how it penalizes Mexicans over other immigrants.

The problem for most of us, is not what Donald Trump is saying about immigration, but that specificity is lacking, and Trump’s own past statements makes us worry.

But, has Trump signaled a change?

According to several news outlets, Trump opened up on January 30, during a lunch prior to the State of the Union address, about how transitioning from a businessman into an elected official has created some obstacles for him. According the news, Trump cited immigration as an issue that demands one approach it with a “much more heart and soul.”

Does Trump really mean that, or are they just words his handlers gave him to use?

I don’t know.

All I can do is rely on what I know to be a fact.

Donald Trump seems to believe that immigration requires a “heart and soul.” We both agree that the immigration system is broken, and it needs fixing. Trump uses the words “merit-based” and “reform” as well as doing away with the visa “lottery” and limiting “chain migration” to just the nuclear family. By the way, only the nuclear family benefits from the provisions of chain migration today, so I’m not sure what Trump means when he wants to limit it to parents and minor children.

I can agree to those issues in general terms. But does “merit-based” mean a select group of immigrants that speak English and act like Americans, or does it include immigrant low-skilled labor that is needed in the fields, in the hotels and restaurants and in building houses? That’s the fundamental question that needs an answer.

At this point all I can rely on as to what it all means are the general platitudes of needed immigration reform along with these infamous words that Donald Trump uttered in 2016 and has yet to apologize for; “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people”.

That’s what troubles me and until I see specificity I’ll continue to assume the worst from Donald Trump.

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