Politics, Moderate

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Politics

Use the ballot box to stop politicians who whip up fear of immigrants

Esther J. Cepeda on

CHICAGO -- In 2011, a Kansas state lawmaker suggested shooting unlawfully present immigrants from helicopters, the way the state controlled its feral hog population.

He was building on a long history of politicians and other officials who have dehumanized undocumented immigrants, especially those at the border. In fact, in 1911, the federal Dillingham Immigration Commission stated: "We should exercise at least as much care in admitting human beings [to the United States] as we exercise in relation to animals or insect pests or disease germs."

This is why it came as no shock to learn that President Trump suggested shooting migrants in the legs to keep them from coming into the United States.

Trump said this in a fit of rage in March, while his White House aides tried to explain to him why the United States can't just shut down its 2,000-mile southern border, according to a new book, "Border Wars: Inside Trump's Assault on Immigration," by New York Times reporters Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis.

Fuming and using expletives to berate his staff, Trump shouted, "I ran on this. It's my issue," according to the book.

It's also been the issue of countless hardline conservatives who took the tack of scaring fellow white people into believing that their country is being invaded, overrun, flooded and infested with "bad hombres" looking to take white people's jobs, their women and their place at the top of the pecking order in America.

 

The strategy has proved extremely effective thus far, for Trump and for so many others -- like eight-term Iowa Rep. Steve King, who once took a 12-foot model of a border wall to the floor of Congress. It was topped with wire that could be electrified to stop immigrants in the same way that livestock are managed.

It's a winning strategy to cast those who seek asylum from political violence and economic travail as being simultaneously super powerful in their ability to take, take, take everything America holds dear and be as intellectually backward as hogs and cattle.

Superpowered is a good way to put it, actually, considering the other ideas Trump had for controlling the border, according to "Border Wars," which was recently excerpted in the Times ahead of its Oct. 8 publication date.

There was talk of fortifying the border wall with a water-filled trench -- you don't need to be a medieval scholar to think of it as a moat -- stocked with snakes or alligators. He actually asked aides to provide him with a cost estimate.

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