City On A Hill? Trump’s Anti-Mexican Proposals Would Hurt America
April 14, 2016 • 518 views
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If you haven’t heard Donald Trump insult Mexico or Mexicans during the current presidential primaries, then you’ve probably been living under a rock. Trump seems to gain great attention and support from his voter base by blaming our neighbors to the south for problems ranging from drug-related crimes to stealing American jobs. Until now, this has mostly just been bluster, with little in the way of specifics to show that he really intends to do anything about it. Earlier he had stated that a wall needs to be built to stop the flow of illegal immigrants across our border, and more sinisterly, that he intends to make Mexico pay for it. How may you ask? By extorting our third largest trade partner of course.
The new plan that Trump recently proposed centers around halting the flow of remittances. Remittances are monetary transfers made from one country to another, usually to family members living somewhere else. Remittances are admittedly a small part of the Mexican economy but play a significant role in the lives of Mexican-American immigrants, many of whom send a large portion of their income to beleaguered relatives across the border. Blocking all transfers to Mexico would be unfeasible, not to mention unconstitutional, so Trump probably plans to set regulations upon companies that transfer the money to make it near impossible for illegal immigrants to use their services. This idea is more sensible, since currently it is already illegal to hire illegal immigrants and upon discovery they are detained or deported, but Americans needs to stop and think before they undertake this course of action.
The justification that Trump uses for this strategy is the precedent set by the use of the Patriot Act to prevent transfers to countries due to perceived terrorist threats, like Somalia. While it is true that the dangers of cartels and gangs crosses into our country from our border with Mexico, this is not simply a matter of spilling over. Trump’s threat, for threat it is, is based upon the premise that Mexico is solely guilty for this and should be punished as a result. This ignores the fact that the vast majority of demand for these drugs comes from the U.S., that it is a problem shared by our countries. Mexico’s government is no more behind the threat posed by the cartels than the U.S. government, in fact the current president of Mexico ran on a promise to unrelentingly fight against drugs.
This type of assumed guilt and reproach is characteristic of the policies that led to poor relations with Latin American states in the first place. Many Americans just laugh at the ridiculous claims of Latin American leaders when people like Hugo Chavez angrily proclaim that the U.S. causes earthquakes in Venezuela, but behind this comical anger is a history of abuse. During the late 19th century the U.S. moved away from the original spirit of the Monroe Doctrine, based upon a mutual respect and recognition for the independence and rights of Latin American countries, and moved towards the blatantly imperialist policies of Theodore Roosevelt with interfering in their countries whenever we felt like it. Sending marines to collect debts, building military bases without their consent, reducing them to essentially puppet states, this was the violation that Latin American countries suffered under American “protection.”After a brief respite under the Good Neighbor policy of Hoover and Roosevelt, Latin America again was violated as the U.S. propped up vicious dictators like Augusto Pinochet in Chile in an attempt to prevent the spread of Communism. Soured relations with countries like Mexico do not stem from a groundless antagonism or culture difference, but rather are the result of repeatedly treating of them as walking mats, in violation of American democratic principles.
That is the true reason why Trump’s plan is unacceptable. It is a mistake that the U.S. has made time and time again and needs to learn from. By presuming the guilt of Mexico, by threatening, essentially blackmailing, another democratically elected government to pay for the expenses of a mutual problem, would be to violate the very essence of what the U.S. stands for. John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, stated that he wanted his new home to be “as a city upon a hill”, a bastion of justice that all the world would look to and follow. This has always been the drive of our nation, that though we may stumble and fall, we will always ceaselessly pursue what is right. So next time Trump promises to “make America great again”, consider what he means. Does he mean an America confident in its own moral superiority, a country respected and looked up to by its neighbors, or a schoolyard bully stealing the lunch money from the smaller kids?