If rounding up undocumented immigrants in 10 U.S. cities including Atlanta last weekend was so important, why were Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids announced well in advance? Wouldn’t that alert those here illegally so they could make themselves scarce?

That seems like simple logic, leading me to a theory. President Trump knows employers don’t want to lose their undocumented workforce because he’s one of them, so the announcement was just a ploy to deceive his base into believing Trump is “doing something” about illegal immigration. And as reported by The Washington Post, the raids “failed to materialize.”

My theory is borne out by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s position on the issue. “Immigration across the board, with some limitations, is a benefit to this country and that is the position of the Chamber,” Randy Johnson, the Chamber’s senior vice president for labor and immigration policy told the Washington Examiner in 2017.

Hardly a bastion of liberalism, the Chamber is the world’s largest business organization representing more than 3 million companies of all sizes and descriptions. On immigration, the Chamber advocates green card reform and guest worker programs for highly skilled immigrants as well as those without skills, along with a “tough but fair” process under which those living here illegally can attain legal status.

The Chamber notes that comprehensive immigration reform can happen only through bipartisan legislation, but Trump and his allies have no appetite for that. Instead, they embraced xenophobia because they need voters to believe Republicans are “protecting” them from a “threat.” Thus, the president launched his racially charged jihad against immigrants that’s led to a humanitarian disaster and empty gestures like Trump’s pre-publicized ICE raids.

Take a look around Cobb County. See those men and women washing dishes or working for landscapers or scrubbing toilets? How many are undocumented? Yet, they do the jobs many Americans won’t and employers tend to pay immigrants less for doing them, which means higher profits.

I recently had my roof replaced by a local company. Not a single worker among the crew was American. They all spoke Spanish and appeared to be Hispanic or Latino. They started at 7:30 in the morning and finished after 8 p.m. on a hot day, with only a one-hour lunch break. They did a splendid job, but where were the American workers? Hint: they don’t want to be on a hot roof dawn to dusk.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the United States is the best country in the world,” pronounced Cobb County Sherriff Neil Warren at the GOP’s July 4 shindig, “and we cannot have a bunch of folks who do not believe in law and order and other issues that will take this country down.”

Hmmm … where have I heard that speech before?

“We have got to stop these gangsters, dope dealers from coming across our border…We have got to build that wall.”

Now I remember.

Demonizing and dehumanizing desperate migrants who only want to give their children a better life is a lousy way to attract votes. The truth is, undocumented immigrants commit far fewer violent and property crimes than American citizens, according to multiple studies. Like those roofers, most of them just want a job — any job. To break the law likely means deportation if they’re undocumented.

My ancestors came here from Hungary, didn’t speak English and dug ditches. There were nativists back then who didn’t want them here spewing the garbage we hear today. It was the same for Irish, Italians, Eastern European Jews, Asians and other ethnic groups. But the immigrants survived and their descendants thrived. That’s America.

Rather than attempting the impossible task of rounding up and deporting the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., wouldn’t reform as outlined by the Chamber make far more sense and be far less costly?

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services admit they’re overwhelmed by Trump’s self-inflicted border fiasco. Families are ripped apart and children left to suffer in inhumane conditions is not just tragic, it’s a national disgrace.

The president’s “zero tolerance” policy, like most everything he does, was never thought through with regard to the unintended consequences. If Trump’s goal was to discourage illegal immigration by terrorizing and traumatizing children, then it’s mission accomplished. But in the process, he’s turned America’s “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” ideal into a sick joke.

Any pretense that Trump is not motivated by racism evaporated earlier this week when the president told four Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to the countries they came from. Three were born in the U.S., the one who wasn’t is a naturalized citizen, and all were duly elected to the House of Representatives, a co-equal branch of government.

“So sad to have a president who says racist things and is, in fact, a racist,” tweeted George Conway, husband of Trump senior adviser, Kellyanne.

Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, writer and author who lives in Kennesaw. You can contact him through his website at kevinemmetfoley.com.


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