Trump’s Desperate, Deplorable Immigration Ad

I know that little Trump Republicans do has the power to shock us anymore, but the depravity of this newly released Trump campaign ad is still worth noting:

Democrats will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.

Never mind the fact that undocumented immigrants commit fewer crimes on average than US citizens. Never mind that Donald Trump’s campaign and election has spurred a wave of white supremacist violence across the United States.

And never mind the fact that principal dispute at the moment is over Dreamers, people brought to this country when they were very young and who until recently were considered special cases in the overall immigration debate. Mainstream Republicans just a few years ago were pushing for comprehensive immigration reform. Just a year ago they were supposedly committed to protecting the Dreamers, even if only as a fig leaf to cover for their more cruel policies toward other undocumented groups. But now? Nearly every Republican talking point over the shutdown has conflated Dreamers and “illegal immigrants” wholesale. In frighteningly rapid fashion, the Republican Party has moved to a “deport them all” stance for people like Revernd Rey Pineda, a priest and DACA recipient who was brought to the United States when he was only two years old.

Just who is this racist garbage supposed to appeal to, beyond the morally and statistically shrunken deplorable 35% who still support this president?

Nearly 90% of Americans want DACA recipients to stay in the United States. Most Americans oppose Trump’s border wall and certainly don’t want to pay for it. Even Fox News polls show over 80% support for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

This is not a winning issue for Republicans. Not in the long term, and not in the short term.

In the short term, their abject cruelty will help ensure a massive Democratic wave election in 2018 by everyone who isn’t a deplorable white supremacist. Democrats in 2016 made a foolish bet that they could win over enough Romneyite suburban moderates to make up for entirely avoidable losses among rural white working class voters. But the Trump Administration’s reckless moral turpitude is accomplishing what Democrats could not do on their own: suburbia is shifting hard against the Republican Party, and may do so for a very long time to come.

It’s also a loser in the long run. If Republicans really believe that it’s impossible for them to win the votes of people of color, then their goose is cooked. They can try to deport all the immigrants they want, and they can try to limit all the green cards they want, but they can’t engineer a racial demographic shift that prevents whites from becoming a minority group in America. At best they can slow the process around the edges by a few years. There is no pathway for the Stephen Millers of the world to engineer the country’s racial demographics to ensure continued white majorities. That ship sailed long ago absent a literal fascist purge.

What we’re seeing here is desperation. The Republican Party is beset by panicked delirium and has lost all sense of moral decency and even rational self-preservation. It is simultaneously dangerous and deeply pathetic.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.