Washington, DC, May 8, 2020 –  The U.S. economy is tanking. Tens of thousands of Americans have lost their lives. President Trump has no plan and (while not wearing a mask) is washing his hands of his responsibility to lead the nation through the worst crisis of our lifetime. His reelection prospects are threatened. 

So, what are Trump and his lackeys focused on? Rallying the nation? No. Developing a nationwide testing and tracing program? No. Detailing steps to slowly reopen parts of the economy? No. 

They spend a great deal of time blaming immigrants, demonizing immigrants, detaining immigrants, expelling immigrants, forcing immigrants to work in dangerous conditions and diverting billions of dollars to a border wall. Here are just some examples from this past week:

Blaming immigrants for the spread of COVID-19

  • The Trump administration is turbocharging the false linkage between immigrants and disease to deflect accountability away from their failure to protect us. 
  • HHS Secretary Alex Azar said this week that he believed increased outbreaks at meatpacking plants “were linked more to the ‘home and social’ aspects of workers’ lives rather than the conditions inside the facilities.” 
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Roggensack tried to diminish the severity of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 outbreak by saying, “These were due to the meatpacking, though … It wasn’t just the regular folks in Brown County.”

Trump spending half a billion on painting his border wall black

  • The Washington Post broke the news this week that Trump – in the middle of a pandemic – is redirecting between $500 million and $3 billion in funding for black paint for his unnecessary and stupid border wall. 
  • The budget for the border wall is $18 billion, and under a flimsy “emergency declaration,” most of the funding has been raided from appropriated funds for National Guard deployments and military family readiness. 
  • As Frank Sharry of America’s Voice stated, “For Trump, the wall is not just a physical structure, but a politically-driven obsession. For the majority of us, the wall is not just a waste of money, but the perfect encapsulation of his presidency: divisive, distracting, narcissistic, mendacious, corrupt, racist, authoritarian, and ineffective. No matter how much he tries, he can’t paint over failure.”

Stephen Miller uses pandemic as justification to advance long-sought nativist policies

  • A New York Times report from Caitlin Dickerson and Michael Shear, “Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders,” confirms that White House aide Stephen Miller opportunistically exploited the pandemic as justification for a policy goal he held long before the onset of the current crisis. 
  • As the piece reports, “what has been billed by the White House as an urgent response to the coronavirus pandemic was in large part repurposed from old draft executive orders and policy discussions.”
  • Today’s Wall Street Journal story by Michelle Hackman reports that Miller and his allies, “having temporarily closed borders and curtailed immigration in response to the coronavirus pandemic, is moving to expand those restrictions while the president’s advisers push to leave them in place for months or even years to come.”

Trump meat processing executive order protects companies, not workers

  • Trump’s executive order forces meatpacking plants to remain open despite mounting infections and deaths. As Gary Harris, a 20-year worker at a Logansport, Indiana Tyson Foods plant that has seen 1,000 COVID-19 infections told The Indianapolis Star: “…I think they should bring the president down here and have him work shoulder-to-shoulder and join the fun.” 
  • Joe Biden spoke for many Americans when he said this week about meatpacking workers, “we owe you.” Meanwhile, GOP Senators Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn with the support of the Trump administration have announced that their top priority in the next CARES package is to shield companies from legal liability from workers they expose to danger – essentially saying, “we’ll cover for you.” 
  • AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka writes in a New York Times op-ed, If Trump Wants Meat Plants Open, He Should Protect Their Workers: “this administration is favoring executives over working people, and the stock market over human lives. He is forcing workers to choose between a paycheck and their health. This isn’t a choice workers should have to make.” 

Instead of bringing us together as one America, the administration is dividing our nation and demonizing immigrants in hopes of deflecting from Trump’s failure to protect the nation. The vast majority of Americans want to work together across racial and ethnic differences in order to get through this crisis and emerge on the other side a stronger, fairer, more united country. Trump speaks for an aggrieved minority who want to deny and wish away the crisis, find others to blame, and scheme cynically to cling to power. No wonder Trump and his acolytes are sinking in the polls.

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