It has been intriguing to note that in this era of citizen division and Us versus Them mentality — during this time in our history when every perceived foe must be labeled — no one has called out presidential wannabe Donald Trump for what he is.
He is a bully. He is a self-aggrandizing, opportunistic bully and blowhard who heaves out vile stream-of-consciousness pronouncements, feigns wonderment at the horrified reaction and threatens to unleash his pack of lawyers on anyone who gets in his way.
But Trump has pointed his privileged finger at an important social issue. Something that has put him, at least for the time being, at the top of the popularity polls, above other Republicans seeking the nation’s highest office.
It is the nation’s immigration problem. The absolute failure of our elected officials to get their arms around the difficult issue of who has — and is still — entering this country illegally.
Every once in awhile the court jester’s proclamation lands with a thud as truth.
Trump has dared to speak out loud about the elephant in the room. Of course, he predictably spoke of it in ugly and offensive terms, but the core message has resonated with the electorate. Citizens have been waiting for someone brave enough to at least put illegal immigration on the table for a real discussion.
Remember when your mother scolded you for not picking up your bedroom and it just got messier and messier? That’s our immigration system in a nutshell. Our elected “leaders” have ignored the mess for so long — and added to it with their sloppy responses to such crises as last year’s rush of illegal child immigrants across the southern border — that, today, we can’t even see the floor of our problem.
It’s easier to dismiss the messenger (as a billionaire loudmouth) and criticize his ill-chosen words (“They’re bringing drugs … crime … they’re rapists”) than face the fact that illegal immigration is a huge problem in the United States. It has been for years, and politicians have done nothing much to right the ship. And it is not just about Mexicans. Who knows how many Middle Eastern terrorists have slipped across our borders?
It has been interesting to watch how the mainstream media responded to Trump’s spotlight on our immigration chaos. They repetitively replayed his mean-spirited comments and went after other presidential candidates to get their responses. The main focus was on whether Trump’s positions hurt the Republican Party as a whole.
There were no exposés on the broken immigration system, no visits to the border detention camps set up last year, which still house many of the thousands of mothers and young children who crossed the border. No interviews with Immigration Services officials about future policy plans.
Instead, the media took a look inside Trump’s restoration project of the old U.S. Post Office in Washington, D.C.
The Washington Post reported, “A Trump company may be relying on some undocumented workers to finish the $200 million hotel.”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper tossed zingers at Trump asking if it wasn’t hypocritical of the presidential candidate to say illegal immigration is “killing this country” and then employ illegal workers for his project.
“I hired a very big contractor, one of the most prestigious, one of the best in the world, to build the building,” Trump explained. “It is their responsibility,” he said, to police workers at the site. But Trump agreed the buck stopped with him and said he’s ordered the contractor to scour each subcontractor’s employee list.
He reminded Cooper of the millions of illegal immigrants in this country and how difficult it is for employers to know who is who.
I’d sure like to see reporters dogging lawmakers on Capitol Hill with the same kind of investigatory fervor. None are asking if we need new laws or just better enforcement. None are asking politicians why they still can’t reach a compromise on how to revamp the nation’s immigration policy.
How about tossing some immigration questions to President Barack Obama during his next news conference? He has been giving speeches about the “broken system” of criminal justice in America. Well, isn’t this another example of that?
The societal problems illegal immigration creates will only get worse unless someone on the national stage keeps the topic center stage and demands change. Or until politicians produce a sensible overhaul of our current system.
Or until we demand it.
— Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.