Everybody knows that President Donald Trump makes inflammatory comments.
That’s a big part of how he got elected. Lots of people liked that he was an outsider. Lots of people liked that he was not politically correct.
He “spoke his mind.” He “doesn’t take any (expletive).” He’ll “drain the swamp.” He’s a “deal maker.” He’ll “make America great again.”
I see the allure, but there’s also more than a fair amount of risk involved in that type of behavior. And we’re seeing that play out in policy plays these days.
Take immigration.
I am convinced that if candidate Trump would have toned it down a bit he’d be in a stronger position with regard to his immigration plans.
Without all the bluster and borderline racist comments, his immigration policy would have been much easier for America to tolerate.
His travel ban, which has drawn massive protests and court challenges was only moderately different – a bit more restrictive, that is – than one signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2015.
Trump’s travel ban even affected the same seven majority-Muslim nations as the Obama-era travel ban.
As for deportations, Obama was known as the deporter-in-chief. The level of deportations during his administration was unprecedented. During his term, Obama deported more illegal immigrants than all of the presidents in the 20th century combined.
His termination of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy of granting asylum to Cuban immigrants who made it safely to U.S. soil seemed  particularly cruel to me. It was a total sop to the Castro regime following Obama’s steps toward more normal relations with that communist island nation.
Nonetheless, when all of that immigration stuff was going on under Obama, there were no huge protests. There were no lawsuits.
Was that because Obama’s policies were far more humane and inclusive than Trumps? I don’t think so. I think it’s because Trump runs his mouth so much and  whips people into a frenzy.
Right out of the gate, his “they’re sending us rapists” set the tone. Then, after terrorist attacks abroad, he and several of his minions called for a “Muslim ban.”
This was all the ammunition anyone needed to assail all of Trump’s immigration policies as racist or xenophobic. Remember, these policies are not terribly far flung from what was happening under Obama. It’s the perception that‘s wildly different. And it’s Trump’s own words that fuel the perception.
Trump has talked tough on immigration. There’s the whole “build the wall thing.” He’s authorized hiring additional immigration and border patrol agents. He’s also talked about giving those agents more leeway in who they target.
But according to government statistics, of the 2.5 million people deported under Obama, 90 percent were previously convicted of a serious crime.
Fair enough. But that also means 250,000 were not convicted of a serious crime. Most likely, those people violated immigration laws like illegal entry or re-entry or maybe they had a fake visa or a fake Social Security card. Maybe they had a DUI charge.
The Trump administration has said on multiple occasions that they are prioritizing illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes – just like Obama.
Since there are no statistics on deportations under Trump, we can’t compare how many serious versus petty criminals have been or will be deported. But it would seem to me a similar 90/10 ratio would be likely. It only makes sense from an enforcement standpoint that federal agents are going to target criminals, with a small number of petty offenders getting caught up in the process.
You hear tear-jerking stories about petty offenders being deported these days. But remember, there were 250,000 of them deported during the Obama years and you never heard a peep.
Then there was Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
That’s where illegals who were brought to the U.S. as children were exempt from deportation. Approximately 750,000 “dreamers” were granted protection under DACA.
Nothing in Trump’s executive order halts or undoes that program, but critics talk about Trump destroying families and deporting dreamers. Here’s what Trump said at a press conference when asked about DACA:
"DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me, I will tell you." He said he would “show great heart” with respect to DACA immigrants. He also suggested that some DACA recipients likely are “gang members” and “drug dealers, too,” which seems to indicate that if you’re a criminal, DACA won’t save you from deportation.
Frankly, is that a crazy or controversial position to take?
I think a lot of the hubbub over Trump’s immigration stance has more to do with his bloviations than the policies themselves.
And while we’re on the topic of immigration, let’s talk about “sanctuary cities.” These are cities where leadership has decided they will not work with federal immigration officials.
Last week U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that any cities seeking U.S. Department of Justice grants must first show they are not sanctuary cities.
Under this policy – issued under the Obama administration in 2016, but not enforced – cities must prove they are in compliance with Section 1373 of U.S. Code Title 8. That requires notification of federal officials about the immigration status of people in local custody.
(Worth repeating: The policy Sessions is talking about enforcing was issued under Obama.)
I’ve heard the arguments from leaders of sanctuary cities. U.S. immigration policies are sorely outdated and therefore we will simply not abide by them, they say.
Well, if that argument holds water, I want in on some of that action.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 says I can’t own a Thompson submachine gun without a federal transfer. I contend that law is outdated. I mean, come on, it was written in 1934, the year John Dillinger died.
I live in Syracuse.
Maybe my police chief, Jim Layne, and my town manager, Henry DeJulia, could declare Syracuse a sanctuary from the 1934 NFA.
Then I could own a Thompson without fear of reprisal from the feds.
Come to think of it, maybe we’ve been looking at federal authority all wrong. Think of all the federal laws you could dodge if you just convinced city officials to declare sanctuaries.
I’m calling Mayor Joe Thallemer. Let’s make Warsaw the IRS sanctuary!