Will immigration politics be the Achilles Heel for the U.S.?

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The number of Somalis in St. Paul and Minneapolis has been rising over the years. A local shopping area in Minneapolis is named ‘Little Mogadishu’. Here, locals mingle irrespective of race and creed. It’s a closely knit community. 

There are an estimated 25,000 Somalis in the Twin Cities. But their presence, viewed against the backdrop of President Donald Trump’s overambitious immigration reforms, has put Minnesota at a crossroads as the new administration digs in.

It brings into focus the never-ending politics and controversy that surrounds the president’s vicious and inhuman legislative crackdown on migrants. Trump has, on many occasions, faulted the Minnesota state government for hosting refugees. “Some of the Somalis you have allowed here are joining ISIS and spreading extremist views,” he claimed.

However, there is consensus that the United States, despite the “America first” policy, has international obligations that it has to fulfill. Trump should know some issues are too delicate to subject to populist pronouncements. Immigration is a delicate issue that could isolate the United States from the global community.

There’s uncertainty among the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, including Muslims, who are a key talking point of Trump’s rhetoric. The situation in Somali is untenable. It would be inhumane to push Somalis back to their country, where they will only be met with death.

More than 41,000 immigrants were rounded up by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in less than four months after Trump issued executive orders in March. Apart from Somalis, Trump’s order has seriously affected citizens of Yemen, Syria, Libya and Iran but the White House denies Trump is pursuing a “mass deportation” agenda.

Good news is legal experts, scholars and some local leaders are now pushing for better refugee vetting and asylum adjudication, which previously, according to them, has been a sham. The media must come out to support selfless lawyers who have opted to take Trump head on to ensure rights of refugees and asylum seekers are respected.

According to Mary Curtin, diplomat in residence at the Humphrey School on Public Affairs, Trump’s policy of “America first” is misplaced. I cannot agree more.

There’s anxiety over the fate of undocumented migrant parents whose children are U.S. citizens by birth. “People wonder what they will do with their U.S.-born children if they are deported. At least 45 million children are U.S. citizens but have no U.S. parents,” said John Keller, whose firm has represented migrants from 128 countries.

Speaking to reporters in St Paul, Minn., the lawyers said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provision protects children who were illegally brought to the United States, warning that any attempts to go against it will be legally rebutted.

As Tom Hanson, a former diplomat, said the U.S should not turn its back on its core responsibilities. He said: “You can’t treat migrants as if they are the problem. Trump is being dragged back and forth by his advisers and he risks losing his base.”

Trump must avoid making “emotional decisions.”