There are no winners in bigotry

Posted by Ryan J. Suto on July 19, 2019 in Blog
Last night, Politico broke a story that the White House wants to effectively end the U.S. refugee resettlement program. 

Under federal law, the administration can set a limit of the number of refugees the country will accept in a given year. While actual acceptances vary from year to year and do not necessarily meet the set limit, the ceiling has historically been around 70,000-80,000 since the program began in the 1980s, and in the previous decade the number of admissions has floated between 56,000 and 84,000.

Last year Trump set the ceiling at just 30,000--a record low. And as of June, only 18,000 refugees were actually admitted in 2019. Politico reported that, while the White House wants to set the number of refugees admitted at zero, executive branch agencies are advocating for up to 10,000, a fraction of what America has historically accepted and an insulting number given the backdrop of one of the worst refugee crises we have seen in modern history. 

One could type for a dozen lines refuting the xenophobic arguments against refugee resettlement; or point out that most of today's refugees come from countries that fall under Trump's Muslim Ban or that the president would probably categorize as "shithole countries;" or expound upon the nativist motivations behind turning America's back on the rest of the world. But it feels like it was just yesterday that AAI had to condemn this administration for attempting to goose step America down the road toward a white Christian ethnostate.

Oh wait, it was.

And that condemnation did not even cover Trump's move against asylees earlier this week, in which the administration issued a rule denying asylum to migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border on the basis that they should have claimed asylum in the first country through which they passed. The rule would separate more families and devastate the legal immigration process. The only silver lining is that the move is very likely illegal and has already been challenged in court.

But even if the refugee cap is ultimately greater than zero and the new asylum rule is ultimately blocked, Trump's intentions are clear to those weary abroad and to his supporters alike. And Trump knows his audience: his recent days-long nativist Twitter harassment of four Congresswomen of color drew approval from Republicans on Twitter. In response to the xenophobic tirade, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that "the president is on to something." Trump agreed, announcing that because of his tweets, he's "winning."

But what neither Trump or McConnell seem to realize is that there are no winners in bigotry. For the sake of a bump in the polls, they are borrowing against the nation's long term legitimacy and stability. And by seeking political advantage from hate, they are throwing away the more perfect union that we could become.