I watched into the wee hours of the morning, the most smashing upset in my 85 year lifetime, Donald J. Trump winning the Presidency! For those of us who have been working for women’s reproductive rights for years, the threat of a Trump victory was frankly horrifying. We can only pray that those rights in the USA have come too far and for too long for a complete reversal of this precious right of choice, which would make American women fall back into a medieval view of public health and the right of privacy. If Trump is looking to make positive, progressive change, I hope does not attempt to make good on his campaign promise to defund Planned Parenthood.
On the other hand, the out of control issue of immigration which Trump raised at the outset of his campaign remains a burning spear flung through the heart of all we stand for in America. If we fail to gain an equitable solution to this abrogation of our precious rule of law we are destined, as happened long ago with the Roman Empire, to a catabolic decline in power and prosperity.
Yes, we are a nation of immigrants. But the first waves of immigrants who came before the enactment of the ill advised 1965 immigration law came to a nation far different than our overcrowded country of today. At that time we were a nation of under 200 million. In 2016 we are at nearly 330 million and by taking in over a million legal aliens each year and an unknown number of illegal aliens, we have exceed the bounds of what can realistic be sustained by the earth’s ecosystem. And we can’t discount the impact these numbers have done to create a kind of political miasma in our urban centers.
A reform was attempted in 1986 when 3 million aliens were given full citizenship. Since then several versions of immigration reform have been thrust into contention and rejected by the American people in recent years. But now instead of 3 million, we have at least 11 million illegal aliens residing here while other immigrants stand in line waiting to become citizens legally. This is wrong. But what can we do?
In my view, it was Trump’s stand on immigration that won him the primary and ultimately the general election. Despite accusations made by Secretary Clinton during the election, citizens demanding the enforcement of our immigration laws are not a “collection of deplorables.” The exit polling indicates the citizenry sees immigration as an important issue with the majority of Americans calling for stronger border enforcement and the halt of illegal immigration.
Trump’s election along with a Republican House and Senate could lead to a superb opportunity for reasonable compromise on immigration that would allow for a significant reduction in levels of legal immigration and the effective control of our borders. But he will face considerable opposition from several constituencies.
These constituencies include businesses that want more cheap labor and the ethnic and religious institutions that look to increase their numbers and power. For instance, Pope Francis just implied that anything short of keeping our borders wide open is immoral! His and other wanton self-interested hypocritical plays for power have long been grinding at the hearts of those who voted Mr. Trump into office. Real and effective immigration reform that works in the best interest of the citizens is what is required. If Trump fails to fix this dangerous history of letting powerful partisan self-interested politics prevail, the immigration issue will continue to fester with odious and increasingly divisive results.
Now is the time for both parties to take the long view and seize the chance to bring us together. Trump’s speech early in the morning after this historic upset was encouraging, but many such speeches have been made before. Reforming immigration could lead to other urgent repairs to our battered republic such as undoing Citizens United and the fixing the curse of election financing which so affects our flawed process today.
What can we hope for from President Trump? I would hope for a lot of personal qualities that his campaign rhetoric did not foreshadow such as moderation, balanced judgment, and careful consideration of alternative actions in a potential powder keg planet. We are all watching with baited breath to see how he comports himself in his first 100 days.
About the Author: Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC. , is CoChair of the National Advisory Board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). However, his views are his own.