Our story thus far: Billionaire developer Donald Trump announces for president last summer and immediately starts yapping about how he's going to deport all the illegals (12 million by his count, 11 million by most other people's) and he's going to make Mexicans—whom he characterizes as rapists, drug dealers, and bringers of crime and disease—pay for a big beautiful wall on our Southern border.
The response of "real" conservatives, such as presidential rival Ted Cruz and the editors of National Review? Trump is soft on immigration, and his plan to round up and kick out a record number of people is, says National Review, just "a poorly disguised amnesty." What's Spanglish for WTF, amigo?
In the meantime, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders know an opportunity when they see one, so they've stopped talking about deporting illegals or reducing immigration, even though such positions have a long lineage in Democratic Party politics. Unions don't like competition from cheaper laborers any more than they like competition from cheaper goods. Unlike the Republicans, Sanders has never talked about deporting millions, but he's also no fan of more-open borders, either, for people or goods. In 2003, then Sen. Clinton went on the record as being "adamantly opposed" to illegal immigration and talked about the need to sanction businesses that hire them, stop the flow across our southern border, and more. Nowadays, though, she has pledged not to deport a single person and has even apologized for using the term illegal immigrant.
This is all kind of interesting, but here's the deal: It distracts us from actual, current immigration actions. Because Barack Obama used a constitutionally dubious executive order to stay certain types of deportation proceedings for a subset of immigrants, people have been acting if he's not in fact the "Deporter in Chief," who has bounced record numbers of foreigners from our shores.
But Obama is in fact the most insatiable agent of deportation America has yet to see.
Here's how Fusion's Tim Rogers' does the math:
Obama's government has deported more than 2.5 million people—up 23% from the George W. Bush years. More shockingly, Obama is now on pace to deport more people than the sum of all 19 presidents who governed the United States from 1892-2000, according to government data.
And now, Reuters reports,
U.S. immigration officials are planning a month-long series of raids in May and June to deport hundreds of Central American mothers and children found to have entered the country illegally, according to sources and an internal document seen by Reuters.
The operation would likely be the largest deportation sweep targeting immigrant families by the administration of President Barack Obama this year after a similar drive over two days in January that focused on Georgia, Texas, and North Carolina.
Let me be clear. Donald Trump's nativist rhetoric—and that of Ted Cruz, Sen. Jeff Sessions, many folks at National Review and other conservative outfits—sickens me.
It's based on unexamined, reactionary forms of tribalism, ethnic solidarity, and economic ignorance that appalls me especially as the grandchild of immigrants who weren't quite white when they showed up in the United States in the 1910s. Somehow, within a generation or two, my spaghetti-bending wop ancestors and my mackerel-snapping mick forebearers became American enough to fight in World War II and Korea, (mostly) learn English, (mostly) hold down regular jobs, and even (mostly) move into decent neighborhoods. The same thing is happening with today's immigrants, legal and illegal, Mexican and Muslim. When you brush past the emotionalism, you see again and again that immigrants expand opportunities, commit fewer crimes, yadda yadda yadda.
But I don't want to digress: Yes, Trump and the GOP overall is terrible on immigration. But it's Barack Obama's administration that is actively rounding up people and deporting them at record levels. That sickens me even more than Trump's bluster, because it is cold, hard reality, not a nightmare that hasn't yet happened.