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“Platitudes And Rhetorical Nonsense”: How Trump Has Managed To Dumb Down The Immigration Debate

New evidence sugggests Donald Trump’s ignorant and devisive rhetoric on immigration parallels the political discourse on Twitter, suggesting that the bloviating of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee may have an impact on how the immigration debate unfolds.

In collaboration with MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social MachinesFusion explored a correlation between Trump’s campaign and an increase in Twitter discussions around aspects of the immigration debate, including mass deportation and Trump’s promise to build a “great wall” along the southern border of the United States.

Meanwhile, during that same period, mentions of comprehensive immigration reform fell during Trump’s political rise. The findings suggest Trump is having a direct impact on the immigration debate, ultimately turning people’s attention away from practical, bipartisan solutions and towards platitudes and rhetorical nonsense.

Analyzing a data plot comparing Twitter mentions of offering undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship with Trump’s promise to build a wall, the researchers found a significant decrease in comprehensive immigration reform between May and July 2015, directly correlating with Trump’s announcement on June 16, 2015, that he would seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

Talk of comprehensive immigration reform peaked in 2013 after the House of Representatives failed to pass the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which was intended to “modernize and streamline our current legal immigration system, while creating a tough but fair legalization program for individuals who are currently here.”

A year later, the immigration debate once again focused on providing a pathway to citizenship; in November 2014, President Obama issued several executive actions on immigration, offering deportation relief to five million undocumented immigrants. The Obama administration is currently fighting for those reforms in the Supreme Court.

Prior to Trump entering the race, Fusion reports “28 percent of election-related Twitter chatter about immigration focused on an idea of a pathway to citizenship,” making it the most-discussed immigration-related topic on the popular social networking service. Likewise, less than two percent of immigration-related discussions on Twitter focused on building a wall.

But in July 2015, the conversation flipped, with talk of illegal immigrants, mass deportation and building a southern border wall dominating the political discourse, while comprehensive immigration reform and pathways to citizenship all but disappeared from the Twitter lexicon.

Twitter mentions of mass deportation spiked in August 2015, after Trump promised he would enact a “deportation force” to send back 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living int he United States. As Fusion reports, “in September, [mass deportation] even topped the chart briefly as the most-discussed election-related immigration topic.”

Similarly, as Trump’s pro-wall rhetoric increasingly dominated politics in late 2015, 18 percent of all immigration talk on Twitter focused on building a southern border wall, making it the most discussed immigration topic on Twitter. Meanwhile, only 6 percent of immigration-related mentions discussed a pathway to citizenship.

And the trend continues even as the remaining candidates pivot towards the general election; in May, MIT’s Media Lab recorded 22 percent of immigration-related policy talk on Twitter focuses on the wall, while only 2 percent mentions comprehensive immigration policies, including a pathway to citizenship.

It’s clear Trump’s haranguing about building a wall and kicking out 11 million people resonates with the Twitter users, successfully dominating the political conversation, while sensible solutions fall to the wayside. As the election continues, it remains to be seen whether a comprehensive, bipartisan solution can once again ignite interest on social media, or if Trump’s reductive, anti-immigrant policies continue to monopolize the debate.

 

By: Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet, June 17, 2016

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigration Reform, Social Media | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump’s Early Stages of Evolution?”: Donald Trump Is Afraid Of Muslim Judges, Too

In an interview with John Dickerson that aired Sunday on CBS’ Face the Nation, Donald Trump didn’t just hold on to his notion that a judge with Mexican heritage is incapable of treating him fairly in court, he agreed that it was “possible” that Muslim judges wouldn’t be able to either. Referring first to U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the Mexican American judge who is presiding over a Trump University lawsuit, Trump reiterated his accusation of prejudice:

[Curiel] is a member of a club or society, very strongly pro-Mexican, which is all fine. But I say he’s got bias. I want to build a wall. I’m going to build a wall. I’m doing very well with the Latinos, with the Hispanics, with the Mexicans, I’m doing very well with them in my opinion.

So in Trump’s mind, despite his big beautiful wall idea, he’s still “doing very well” with Latinos, Hispanics, and Mexicans, just not the ones that are members of pro-Mexican clubs or societies, and judges. And then there are those Muslims: Dickerson asked Trump if be believed he would also be unable to receive a fair shake from Muslim judges as a result of his proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States, Trump responded, “It’s possible, yes. Yeah. That would be possible, absolutely.”

When Dickerson asked Trump whether he also believed in the American tradition “that we don’t judge people by who their parents were and where they came from,” he replied:

I’m not talking about tradition. I’m talking about common sense, okay? [Curiel’s] somebody, he’s proud of his heritage. And I think that’s great that he’s proud of his heritage. … You know, we have to stop being so politically correct in this country. And we need a little more common sense, John. And I’m not blaming. I’m proud of my heritage, we’re all proud of our heritage. But I want to build a wall.

Then again, Trump’s pseudo-suggestion that justice is more important than an intense love of one’s racial or ethnic heritage may not register with at least some of his own supporters.

In other news, RNC chair Reince Priebus has told the Washington Examiner that Trump’s rhetoric regarding Hispanics would likely evolve between now and the election in November:

I’ve said that I do think Donald Trump understands that his tone and rhetoric is going to have to evolve in regard to how we’re communicating to Hispanics across the country,. I think he gets that. Now, there’s a lot of time between now and November, and I think you’re going to see an evolution on that particular issue.”

Of course, that theory of evolution is not yet supported by evidence outside the minds of establishment Republicans who now find themselves chained to the Trump Express.

Referring to the Trump University lawsuit and Trump’s attacks on Judge Curiel, Priebus added that, while he didn’t know much about the case, “I wouldn’t invoke race into any sort of attack or commentary.”

 

By: Charles Danner, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, June 5, 2016

June 6, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Judiciary, Race and Ethnicity | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A One-Man Lloyd’s Of London”: If Only Trump Came With A Money-Back Guarantee

Donald Trump makes more guarantees than a used-car salesman. I guarantee you.

He guarantees Mexico will pay for the border wall. “I’ll get Mexico to pay for it one way or the other. I guarantee you that.”

He guarantees that his still-secret tax returns are the hugest ever. “They’re very big tax returns,” he said after the New Hampshire primary. “I guarantee you this, the biggest ever in the history of what we’re doing. . . . But we’ll be releasing them.”

He guarantees that Karl Rove and David Axelrod were more violent with crowds than Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski. “I guarantee you they probably did stuff that was more physical than this.”

And, memorably, he guarantees us that his penis isn’t small. “I guarantee you, there’s no problem. I guarantee you.”

The guy is a one-man Lloyd’s of London. But how will he make good on all his assurance policies? Are they money-back guarantees? Full faith and credit guarantees?

Some Trump promises are 100 percent guaranteed. When he tells the president of Ford Motor Co. that the company will be taxed if it builds a factory overseas, “I guarantee you 100 percent he will say, ‘Mr. President, we have decided to build our plant in the United States.’ ” (Trump at another point guaranteed the time by which Ford would capitulate: “I would say by 4 o’clock in the afternoon . . . But I guarantee you, by 5 o’clock the next day.”)

Other guarantees are clearly not 100 percent. “Another plane was blown up, and I can practically guarantee who blew it up,” he said of the EgyptAir crash, even though the cause still hasn’t been officially determined, and no terrorist group has claimed responsibility.

But here’s something you can really take to the bank. Trump’s “guarantees” are like pretty much everything else that comes out of his mouth: The truth is not high on his list of considerations, and he seldom suffers any consequences for the nonsense.

A notable exception came in recent days when The Post’s David Fahrenthold — dubbed “a nasty guy” by Trump for his efforts — reported that Trump hadn’t made good on his promise to donate $6 million to veterans’ charities after a January fundraiser. Trump, asked about the $6 million, said, “I didn’t say six.” Good thing he didn’t guarantee that he didn’t say six. Fahrenthold found video of Trump using the $6 million figure twice at the fundraiser itself and for several days after — including one TV appearance in which he repeated the figure four times in six sentences.

On Monday, the day before he came clean on the donations to veterans, Trump spoke at the Rolling Thunder gathering on the Mall. He claimed there were “600,000 people here trying to get in,” but organizers put attendance at 5,000 — and there weren’t long lines security lines.

I can practically guarantee you Trump knew that line would be in this column. At a candidates’ forum in November, Trump noted the full house and said that “the people in the media will not report that, I guarantee, because I know how their minds work.” If you think that was clairvoyant, consider that Trump, introduced to a 48-year-old mother and told nothing about her health insurance, decreed: “I guarantee you that she probably doesn’t have health care and if she does it’s terrible.”

Trump guarantees are sometimes technical (“I guarantee you they have substandard parts in nuclear and in airplanes because they get them from China”), sometimes audacious (“I know a way that would absolutely give us guaranteed victory” over the Islamic State) and occasionally quantitative: “I guarantee you” that if he negotiated with Iran, “a deal would be made that’s 100 times better.”

One hundred times better — or your money back!

Many of Trump’s guarantees will never be tested because they occur in alternate realities. After Ted Cruz and John Kasich tried to team up against Trump, the candidate said, “I guarantee you if they had it to do again [they] would have never done it.”

As for Trump’s uncouth antics, he says: “If I acted presidential, I guarantee you that this morning I wouldn’t be here” on top.

Diplomacy: “I guarantee you our relationships will be far better than they are right now.”

The tariff on Japanese cars entering the United States: “I guarantee you it’s probably zero.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: “Our guys have never even read it. I’ll guarantee you that.”

China and the TPP: “I guarantee you. . . . They’re going to come in through the back door in a later date.”

Hillary Clinton’s email server: “I guarantee you one thing: We’re going to be talking about those emails every moment of every day.”

Trump was guaranteed not to honor that last promise. It would have left him no time to make other guarantees.

 

By: Dana Milbank, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Domestic Policy, Donald Trump, Foreign Policy | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Problem With Donald Trump’s Fact-Free ‘Instincts'”: Lack Of Basic Understanding Of Government And Public Policy

Donald Trump has a handful of core issues that help define his political identity. Indeed, one need not be a political news junkie to be able to rattle off the list: the New York Republican wants to “make America great again” by banning foreign Muslims from entering the country and addressing immigration by building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.

It was literally in his surreal campaign kick-off speech that Trump made international headlines by declaring, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

For anti-immigration voters, Trump quickly became the presidential candidate they’ve been waiting for. But what does the presumptive Republican nominee actually know about his signature issue? Joshua Green has a fascinating new piece in Bloomberg Politics, which is largely about Trump undoing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus’ years of work, but the article included one anecdote in particular that amazed me.

He explained the genesis of his heterodox views. “I’m not sure I got there through deep analysis,” he said. “My views are what everybody else’s views are. When I give speeches, sometimes I’ll sign autographs and I’ll get to talk to people and learn a lot about the party.” […]

I asked, given how immigration drove his initial surge of popularity, whether he, like [Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions], had considered the RNC’s call for immigration reform to be a kick in the teeth. To my surprise, he candidly admitted that he hadn’t known about it or even followed the issue until recently. “When I made my [announcement] speech at Trump Tower, the June 16 speech,” he said, “I didn’t know about the Gang of Eight…. I just knew instinctively that our borders are a mess.”

For quite a while, it’s obviously been a problem that Donald Trump lacks a basic understanding of government and public policy. But anecdotes like these are a reminder about an alarming, related detail: he’s not particularly interested in current events, either.

I’m not even sure he’s clear on the meaning of “instinctively.”

The political fight surrounding the Gang of Eight’s immigration bill was a politically dominant issue for months, and given Trump’s apparent interest in immigrants and the Mexican border, one might assume he followed the debate closely. Except, he didn’t. As recently as a year ago, he launched a presidential campaign predicated in part on his immigration views, which consisted of a few offensive soundbites.

After all, he doesn’t arrive at his conclusions “through deep analysis.”

Instead, Trump says he understood U.S. border policy “instinctively.” That doesn’t make any sense. If he had literally no substantive understanding of developments at the border, it’s impossible to rely on instincts to understand the value of current border policy.

Let me put this another way. If I pitch Rachel Maddow on a story for the show, she can instinctively tell whether or not it’s a good idea because she has expertise in this area. If I were to ask her the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow, she couldn’t offer an instinctive answer because she has a limited background in birds and physics.

If I were to ask Donald Trump about the value of a high-rise in Midtown Manhattan, he could probably give me a decent instinctive answer. If I were to ask him to reflect on U.S. border security, he can’t – because, according the man himself, he has no idea what he’s talking about.

When Trump refers to his “instincts,” he seems to mean guesses that result from superficial news consumption. For a guy having an argument in a bar, that’s fine. For someone seeking the nation’s highest office, it’s cause for alarm.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 27, 2016

May 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Governing, Immigration Reform, Public Policy | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What Latinos Know About America And Trump Doesn’t”: The Problem Is That This Has To Be Explained

News from the campaign trail has Latinos across America cringing.

It happens every time a scene like this splashes across the news: Protesters went plumb loco outside a Donald Trump rally in Albuquerque, N.M. Waving Mexican flags, they lobbed rocks at police, set fires, pushed aside barriers and generally acted like little hooligans.

The outburst was followed by the inevitable. Cable news talking heads, as they always do, wondered why the protesters were so angry.

Really? The United States is veering shockingly close to electing as president a man whose version of “making America great again” includes scapegoating some of the very people who helped make the country so incredible  — Latino immigrants.

That’s the problem. That this has to be explained. And, no, this is not an excuse for the riotous behavior of a few.

Most Hispanics know such out-of-control displays of emotion will not help. Decapitating a Trump piñata might feel good — a symbolic display of cultural fury. But when it’s televised, such an act merely lends credibility to Trump’s innuendo that Latinos are interlopers intent on mayhem and criminality.

Nothing could be further from the truth — even for those who arrive here without all the legal paperwork. If you want to find someone willing to literally die to become an American, find a recent Latino immigrant. Talk to the Central Americans who risked their lives to cross through multiple countries, hoping to gain asylum in the U.S.

They can tell you about yearning for the dignity and freedoms of America, privileges that so many third-, fourth- or nth-generation Americans take for granted.

Latinos have some of the highest rates of service in the U.S. military. They are highly entrepreneurial, creating businesses wherever they settle.

In a nation that so prides itself of being created from immigrant stock, an awful lot of Americans are naive about migration. Many of Trump’s supporters are unaware that their own forefathers did not arrive here with documents in hand, not like what is required now, a system that didn’t even exist until recent decades.

Nor did their ancestors instantly master English. Rather, they followed the same patterns of language assimilation that we observe among Latinos today. Adult immigrants rarely become proficient in English, but their children become bilingual. Following generations are monolingual — in English.

The process of assimilation is a blessing and a curse. It helps bind us together as a nation: one people from many sources. But as we lose our accents and the stigma of origins in another country, we tend to lose contact with a certain historical truth: Not everybody is welcomed in America. America might admit them for their cheap labor, but if these immigrants want to get a piece of the American dream they’re going to have to fight for it.

When you’re ignorant of what previous generations went through to become Americans, it’s easy to believe the sort of isolationist screeds that Trump preaches.

Following the New Mexico melee, Trump headed to the heavily Latino Anaheim, Calif., for another rally. The Los Angeles Times reported that warm-up speakers told stories about loved ones who had been murdered by immigrants not legally in the U.S. Trump followed up by leading his supporters in a chant of “Build that wall!” the Times reported.

Never mind that much of border control is better managed by drones and high-tech sensors and the dull monotony of paperwork. Also ignore the fact that so many of the workers who keep California’s agriculture and restaurant industry humming crossed that border at some point. Trump has a simple, effective message for the ignorant of America: Immigrants are murderers and rapists, and my wall will keep you safe from them.

By the week’s end, Trump had reached the threshold of enough delegates to clinch the GOP nomination. Latinos have taken notice. Reports from around the country are of an increase in Latino migrants moving from legal permanent residency to full U.S. citizenship. They are registering to vote. And many cite Trump’s obnoxious anti-immigrant slogans as the impetus.

Wouldn’t it be rich if these new Americans proved to be the voting bloc that shut Trump out of the White House?

These novice voters embody a truth: Donald Trump not only lacks presidential credentials; he fails to understand what makes America great. Latino immigrants do, and that’s why so many proudly become Americans.

 

By:Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, May 28, 2016

May 29, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Immigrants, Latinos | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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