Trump is trying to ramp up support for Republicans as the country heads into the midterm election on Tuesday by fearmongering — regardless of actual facts.
They say that desperate times call for desperate measures — and public, conspicuous appeals to nationalism and racism are hallmarks of desperation. These appeals have become a staple of President Donald Trump’s final effort to motivate his base to flock to the polls on Election Day.
In late October, Trump announced his intention to send thousands of active-duty servicemembers to the southern border to head off a caravan of Central American migrants that the President has described as an “invasion.”
The President has said that immigrants must not “come to our country illegally” although the United States is legally obligated to hear asylum claims of migrants – including the migrants in the caravan — who reach the border and grant asylum to those migrants whose claims are found to be legitimate.
Immigration and Fearmongering
Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that there are “some very bad people” among the migrants as many people have criticized the move as a political act intended to stoke fears among his base that criminals are rushing the border which the President hopes will increase Republican turnout for the midterm elections.
Jason Dempsey, a former Army infantry officer who now works as an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, said the deployment “is using the troops as props” and former President Barack Obama has called the move a “political stunt.”
“They’re telling us the single most grave threat to America is a bunch of poor, impoverished, broke, hungry refugees a thousand miles away,” said Obama during a campaign rally in Indiana for Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is facing a tough challenge from Republican Mike Braun, former member of the Indiana House of Representatives. Both the Cook Report and RealClearPolitics rate the race as a toss-up.
In another effort to gain an electoral advantage from the caravan, a 60-second ad paid for by Donald J. Trump for President attempted to link Luis Bracamontes, an undocumented Mexican immigrant convicted of the 2014 slayings of two Sacramento sheriff’s deputies, to the migrants fleeing Central America.
Again, the President tries to paint the Central American migrants as criminals — the ad says, “Dangerous illegal criminals like cop killer Luis Bracamontes don’t care about our laws.” This ad is an insensitive, divisive and racist tactic which many outlets have deemed too indecent to run.
On Monday NBC said they would no longer show the ad after airing it during their “Sunday Night Football” broadcast featuring the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots. Fox News also pulled the controversial Trump campaign ad.
Marianne Gambelli, President of Advertising Sales for Fox News told CNN, “Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network.”
CNN previously declined to air a version of the ad, saying on Twitter, “CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined. Those are the facts.”
Clearly, the caravan of Central American migrants provided Trump the opportunity to throw his base some red meat and he could not decline. Still, the fear coming from the White House — of what the midterm results may be — must be intense. Why else make such an alarming campaign ad and announce a deployment of troops in anticipation of migrants who are weeks away from arriving at the southern border?
In what is surely another attempt to grab headlines to rile up his base, Trump has paired his direct, nationalistic and racist appeals using the migrant caravan with an announcement stating he was preparing an executive order to end birthright citizenship in the United States.
“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” the President claimed. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”
However, the United States is not the only country in the world which grants birthright citizenship. The Center for Immigration Studies says at least 30 countries, including the Canada and Mexico, automatically grant citizenship to any persons born within their borders.
Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) told a Kentucky radio station it was ‘obvious’ that the President could not end birthright citizenship with an executive order, calling into question just how much support the White House could muster for the proposal.
“You obviously cannot do that,” Ryan stated. “I’m a believer in following the plain text of the Constitution, and I think in this case, the 14th Amendment is pretty clear, and that would involve a very, very lengthy constitutional process.”
Without a doubt, any proposal from Trump to end birthright citizenship would be met with legal challenges. Moreover, the consensus among legal scholars is the President lacks the power to unilaterally end birthright citizenship.
Omar Jadwat, who has appeared in court to fight against the Administration’s Muslim Ban and is the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant’s Rights Project, stated that Trump “cannot erase the Constitution with an executive order, and the 14th Amendment’s citizenship guarantee is clear.” Jadwat said the plan “is a transparent and blatantly unconstitutional attempt to sow division and fan the flames of anti-immigrant hatred in the days ahead of the midterms.”
Not one to be discouraged by facts or experts, the Trump administration seems willing to engage in a tough court battle over its plan and Vice President Mike Pence offered his support for the possible legal fight: “We all cherish the language of the 14th Amendment, but the Supreme Court of the United States has never ruled on whether the language of the 14th Amendment — ‘subject to the jurisdiction thereof’ — applies specifically to people who are in the country illegally.”
In a show of panic, Trump has framed his closing argument to the Republican party base in no uncertain terms: Show up to the polls on Election Day so the current administration can forge ahead with its plans to discriminate against, expel and keep out as many brown people as possible.