Every human being residing in the United States deserves to live without constant fear and intimidation.
It sounds pretty simple and in-line with American values. But, in a nation soon to be led by a fear- and hate-fueling billionaire reality TV star, great American values are very much in jeopardy.
Donald Trump, our president-elect, has promised to build walls, deport undocumented immigrants and ban entire populations of certain religious members while promoting hatred and panic among his supporters.
This has sent the targets of his ire — essentially anyone who isn't a white Christian — into a state of perpetual anxiety.
Will Trump, as president, follow through on his boastful tough talk? If so, how?
One route appears to be withholding federal funds from cities that currently have laws that protect undocumented immigrants from the constant and crippling fear of deportation.
These so-called sanctuary cities have made the thoughtful and humane decision to have their law enforcement personnel not track and report the immigration status of people cited for minor offenses such as simple traffic violations.
These cities are not harbors of lawlessness, as critics of them, such as Trump, would have us believe. They simply do not make racial profiling and immigration status checks — wasteful and time-consuming practices — top public safety priorities. This leaves more time for fighting and preventing more dire criminal matters.
The Department of Homeland Security recently released a statement describing its Priority Enforcement Program, saying it “focuses enforcement resources on convicted criminals and individuals who threaten public safety and national security, while also taking into account important community policing needs.”
This approach is a win-win. Anyone who is a threat to public safety is dealt with appropriately, while generally law-abiding people — regardless of citizenship status — can go about their daily lives working and caring for themselves and their families.
Trump's own hometown, New York City, is among the most notable cities operating under these caring and sympathetic rules. Would he use his bully pulpit as president to be, well, a bully to millions, and defund such essential programs as housing and children's services that the bulk of federal funds go to support?
The United States has traditionally provided a safe home for individuals from different nations facing strife, discrimination, political retributions or monetary crises, among other matters.
Immigrants have contributed to the growth of our nation by being employed, paying taxes and educating our society. They are involved in every aspect of what makes America great.
The current movement to ban certain groups from entering the United States or restricting their movement goes against our American ideals.
The Trump administration and Congress should reject an exaggerated approach to governance and focus their energy on creating opportunity and hope for all who call the United States home.
Don Kusler is the national director of Americans for Democratic Action (www.adaction.org), the nation's oldest liberal advocacy organization. Readers may write him at ADA, 1629 K Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, D.C., 20006. This essay is available to Tribune News Service subscribers. Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of Tribune or its editors.
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