|––Donald Trump claimed at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland that undocumented immigrants are robbing the economy of tax revenue. "The dollars that we're losing are beyond anything that you can imagine," he told the wildly cheering crowd.
––The head of nation's largest farmers' organization told a USDA forum in Washington that false information about the economics of immigration is "the elephant in the room." Zippy Duvall explained that, "The U.S. could lose $60 billion in ag production if access to all currently undocumented workers is denied."
According to the American Farm Bureau, 50 to 70 percent of farm laborers are undocumented immigrants.
––Here in Santa Cruz, part of a vast farm belt in Central California, the police chief and mayor held a news conference to say they were duped by the Department of Homeland Security. Chief Kevin Vogel said he was assured that only gang members would be targeted in an ICE raid this month––but other undocumented residents were rounded up as well.
"We cannot tell you how disappointed we are by this betrayal," said Vogel.
––In Mexico City, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly sought to clean up Trump's mess by assuring Mexican officials that there will be "no mass deportations." Kelly also pledged that the U.S. won't use military forces to round up immigrants.
––A few hours earlier, Trump said at the White House, "It's a military operation."
So, what we have is a president who continues promote the notion that illegal immigration is out of control, even though it is not. Illegal border crossings are way down.
He insists that undocumented immigrants pose a greater safety threat to Americans than the averages for violent crime. Just the opposite is true.
He claims that illegal immigration is hurting the economy. In fact, the entire agriculture industry depends on this labor, and would be in genuine crisis if the system that has worked for decades were to be disrupted.
He vows that building a $20 billion wall will solve immigration problems and eradicate drug traffic. Most experts who have studied the situation strongly disagree.
Trump and his defenders are right about one thing: President Obama presided over the deportation of far too many undocumented immigrants, without significant protest from citizens and media. These deportations were a stain on the Obama presidency.
Immigration was a cornerstone of Trump's campaign, no denying that. His supporters expect him to tighten the border and continue appropriate action to deal with violent criminals who are in the U.S. Illegally.
But the rest of what Trump's America cheers about is not the reality here in the West, where farming is vital to the nation's well-being and where millions of undocumented workers are vital to the communities in which they reside.
Santa Cruz, like many other municipalities across the farm belt, is a sanctuary city. While the approach protects farming, its greater purpose is to protect good neighbors.
(c) Peter Funt. Distributed by Cagle syndicate.