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The Journal Gazette

  • Shilts

Wednesday, November 29, 2017 1:00 am

Un-American - and unacceptable

Ignoring decades of predecessors' precedent, spiteful Trump turns his back on refugees

Perry Shilts

Perry Shilts is a Fort Wayne attorney.

There is something liberating about declaring your love of the Lord and America, so once again, here I am, an old white man, decrying the other old white man's unilateral, un-American and unprecedented actions against defenseless human beings.

While we were being distracted this past year by CNN, MSNBC and Fox News bantering from either side of the aisle about President Donald Trump's tweets or Russia, that old white man was callously raining havoc on the lives of more than 300,000 Caribbean and Central American immigrants. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law an immigrant protection act that granted temporary protected status to immigrants fleeing their country because of civil war or natural disaster. Currently, 58,000 Haitians have TPS status, as do 57,000 Hondurans and upwards of 200,000 Salvadorans. Thousands from Nicaragua, Syria and Sudan also have this status. Through four prior presidential administrations and for the 27 years following this law's enactment, every TPS grant has been renewed.

Yet less than four months after his inauguration, Trump alerted Haitians that their TPS grant was in jeopardy. Similar declarations followed to the Hondurans and other Central American former recipients of America's care and compassion for innocents. How can we allow one man to cause so much fear and turmoil in hundreds of thousands of people's lives? These people have no voice and no one to stand up for them, except us.

Politically incorrect though it may be, there is no truer characterization of Trump's actions than this: “Let's make America whiter again!” Why else would this other old white man begin such a program less than four months after he obtained the right as president to oversee our immigration policy? Some 63 percent of the Hondurans who are at risk of losing their status have lived in this country for upwards of 20 years. Please make no mistake, this is not an attack on the Republican Party, as neither President Ronald Reagan nor either President Bush would have done this, nor did they. Likewise, no prior Republican presidential candidate – such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, John Kasich, Jeb Bush or Chris Christie – would have done this. This is one old white man wielding power because he can.

Just as white men in power later appreciated that Japanese internment camps during World War II were wrong, Trump's actions are wrong, and we do not need to wait to realize that his unilateral actions are un-American, unprecedented and, once again, fundamentally immoral. Write letters to your Congresspeople and appreciate that more than 1 million of our young Dreamers and our Caribbean and Central American immigrants are neighbors we are called to help.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater ...”