Ahead of Trump’s El Paso Visit, Beto O’Rourke Outlines Immigration Policy Failures

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Donald Trump and Beto O’Rourke are about to indirectly confront each other on Monday with dual rallies in El Paso, TX.


On one side, Trump, who used his State of the Union address this week to falsely claim that a border wall reduced an “extremely high” violent crime rate in El Paso, will hold a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, USA Today reported. O’Rourke will participate in a mile-long march and deliver a speech in front of the coliseum at the same time that Trump is speaking.

One of them seemingly will be armed (finally) with facts; the other, predictable bluster.

On Friday, O’Rourke published an essay on Medium about the historical failings of U.S. immigration policy, and it’s worth a read. Meanwhile, Trump tweeted about how great his State of the Union speech was.

As the popular former congressman—who challenged and nearly beat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in the recent midterms—correctly points out, the problems caused by a broken immigration system are of our own making.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the challenges we face are largely of our own design — a function of the unintended consequences of immigration policy and the rhetoric we’ve used to describe immigrants and the border. At almost every step of modern immigration policy and immigration politics, we have exacerbated underlying problems and made things worse,” O’Rourke writes.

From ending the bracero farmworker program in 1965 to meddling in and stoking Central American wars for decades, and from an insatiable demand for illicit drugs to ignoring the plight of Latin American poverty and violence, the current conversation on immigration policy—largely driven by Trump’s boisterous and racist whining over a border wall—tends to leave out our own failures that led to the conditions we see today.


O’Rourke describes it as follows:

…[A]s we made it harder for people to cross into the United States, we made it less likely that once here they would attempt to go back to their home country. Fearing an increasingly militarized border, circular patterns of migration became linear, with immigrants choosing to remain in the U.S., many of them ultimately joined by family members from their home country.


Then, we politicized the issue, injecting hate, racism, and xenophobia into the equation, fueling the type of Trump and Republican vitriol we see today.

None of the Trump administration’s proposed solutions—billions of dollars for a border wall, mass deportations, splitting apart families and kidnapping migrant children—are going to correct an issue that has been falsely exaggerated from the start.


Per O’Rourke’s post:

And how do we meet this challenge? The President, using the same racist, inflammatory rhetoric of years past, seeks to build a wall, to take kids from their parents, to deploy the United States Army on American soil, to continue mass deportations and to end the protection for Dreamers. In other words, he seeks in one administration to repeat all the mistakes of the last half-century. And with past as prologue, we know exactly how that will end.


Unlike Republicans to date, the El Paso native actually offers some viable solutions. Among them are offering citizenship to Dreamers and a path to citizenship for their parents; fighting drug and human trafficking at ports of entry; addressing visa overstays, the biggest contributor to undocumented immigration; ending the global “war” on illicit drugs; prioritizing the strengthening of Latin American institutions as a top foreign policy goal; and importantly, treating immigrants and asylum-seekers as human beings worthy of respect and dignity, among others.

Sounds like a decent start to me, regardless of whether or not he’s running for president.


Read the entire blog.

Weekend Editor, Splinter