Trump’s Guilt-Free Campaign


In one of the most engaging, true-to-life scenes from the final season of the Showtime series, Brotherhood, Eileen Caffee (Annabeth Gish) wife of a Rhode Island state representative, is leading an informational meeting for pregnant, low-income Latinas.

Eileen has come to the moment after years spent as a stay-at-home parent and dutiful political wife – an anchor to a family seemingly always in turmoil.

These roles have begun to chaff, so she begins a job as an inner city case manager, serving South Providence’s undocumented poor women. Emotionally overwhelmed by the scale of their suffering, Eileen soon despairs what little impact even a good governmental agency can bring to bear on such abject poverty and unyielding immigration policies.

She nonetheless rallies and enters the meeting room feeling optimistic, armed with an alphabet soup of government programs designed to help her needy clients. But the room grows silent, then empties, after a frustrated Eileen realizes the women must have a US birth certificate or green card in order to receive services.

Eileen’s feels a sense of guilt to think she is part of a system in which the children born to these women will one day have a path to citizenship; but at least for now, these mothers-to-be remain persona non grata everywhere but beleaguered street clinics, shoestring nonprofits and threadbare religious entities.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the course of this interminable election cycle (and straight up, who could blame you?) you know the real-life women behind the Brotherhood plot line would fare even worse under a guilt-free, deportation-happy, Trump administration.

Based on the candidate’s increasingly reckless statements on the topic, Trump’s anti-immigrant “policies” would extend even to the expectant undocumented, leaving them with the same desperate options as everyone else: 1. Go back to where you came from and stay there; 2. Be voluntarily repatriated, and take Trump at his word when he says you’ll be able to apply for citizenship from abroad or; 3. Stay and roll the dice that even if elected, forces of sanity will keep him from initiating the 21st Century American Kristallnacht at the center of his campaign.

Not that it matters to a post-fact carnival barker such as Trump, but the number of children born to undocumented parents has steadily declined over the past nine years, down from an estimated 360,000 in 2007 to under 300,000 in 2013 (Pew Research Center).

Nor does it seem to trouble the billionaire that the vast majority of undocumented women who give birth in the US have lived here for five years, have regular jobs and pay taxes.

And as cited in a 2015 Washington Post profile on undocumented, pregnant Latinas written by staff reporter Pamela Constable, Trump is unabashed that his default narrative of America as a “dumping ground for “anchor babies” does not square with published research done at US hospitals near the southern borders: as Constable notes, most of the women who cross the border do so in order to “…work and escape lives of poverty and violence, not to raise a family.”

There is, of course, no place for this degree of conscience in the callous, corporate-centered Trumpian paradigm. To date, his is a guilt-free campaign, based on zero sum answers in search of problems. Even if it means denying the facts and defaming the marginalized.

Don Rollins is a Unitarian Universalist minister and substance abuse counselor living in Blacksburg, Va. Email

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2016

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