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Free Trade, Immigration, and American Values

Has President Trump gone too far?

Has President Donald Trump gone too far with his “America first” program? Is he ignoring the needs of other countries including our historic allies? Has Trump’s actions violated the very values we seek to aspire including fair treatment, empathy and caring and concern for others? Does the richest country in the world have an ethical obligation to sustain democracy, offer up capitalism and provide economic assistance for developing countries that choose that route? What about our immigration policy: is it in the best interests of the U.S.?

According to Military Times’ Tara Copp, a memo came down from the White House last Tuesday authorizing active-duty troops at the border to fulfill some functions of law enforcement for the “protection of border agents” — including searching and detaining people, crowd control, and “lethal force, where necessary.”

Using lethal force when necessary. This is a recipe for disaster. I fear an all out shootout at some point especially since some immigrants may have or smuggle in small firearms. This is no way to lead the greatest country in the world.

I’m not saying let anyone in who wants to come in. The problem is with our system. We’ve debated what is humanitarian treatment of immigrants since the Reagan years to no avail. Blame the politicians for the mess we are in – Congress and the like. It’s up to them to fix a broken system. We should demand of our leaders a humane approach to the problem.

It’s patriotic to allow certain immigrants in who seek a better life because it is consistent with our values to be a beacon of hope for others. Obviously, we want to keep out criminals, drug dealers and the like. The caravans now crossing our border expect to be let into our country and disappear. This can’t happen. It’s a recipe for disaster. It’s unfair to those who have come to America the right way – legally – and comply with the relevant laws to stay here and apply for citizenship. Immigration

It’s hard for me to believe we are the greatest country in the world and can’t develop an effective, fair immigration system.  The fact is the enforcement of our immigration laws is based on the pursuit of self-interests, not right and wrong. Some say the Democrats don’t want to keep out illegals because they are likely to vote Democratic in elections. Others say business owners need illegals to do the kind of work Americans won’t or price themselves out of the market. The down side here is with low wages paid to illegals, our own citizens are restrained in what they can get. Why should a construction foreperson hire legal citizens and pay $25 an hour when illegals will take $5 an hour?

One step that should be taken right now is to require E-Verify. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that compares information from your Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to confirm that you are authorized to work in the United States. Put the burden on employers and have stiff penalties for violating these rules.

It is true that the scales have been tipped against the U.S. in global trade. This has occurred because for years our foreign relations and economic policy have been based on lifting up those in poor countries; showing them the way to prosperity through capitalism; and promoting global economic trade that benefits everyone. All this has occurred at great economic cost to the U.S. The truth is countries like Japan and China no longer need, nor do they deserve, our help in this regard. I mean China is ready to become the largest economy by the 2020 or shortly thereafter. We should not be giving them any breaks and free trade must be fair trade – especially for the U.S.

The problem with President Trump’s approach is it’s based on being the biggest bully in the room. He downgrades foreign leaders, makes fun of illegals, and is just nasty, especially in his tweets. In life as in international relations, it’s not so much what you do but what you say and how you say it. As in a marriage, belittling your spouse won’t work even though the cause is just. People react to words as well as actions. Words have meaning. Trump needs to learn this lesson because the view of America in the world has been tainted by his over-the-top approach to just about every unresolved issue, problem, and challenge for the betterment of a global society.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on November 27, 2018. Visit Steve's website and sign up for his newsletter. Follow him on Facebook and Like his page. And, thanks for reading!