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  • Uzoma Obi, Esquire

Trump’s Shithole Comment Debunked: 5 Reasons Why

Today is the late Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s birthday. Dr. King’s dream, in essence, was that all people are treated equally and with human dignity and judged based on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

It is sad that 55 years after Dr. King’s memorable ‘I have a dream’ speech, the main debate today is whether President Trump is racist or not. For me personally, it is difficult to come to terms with given that for over 20 years, I followed Trump’s work reading some of his books and watching most of his reality TV ‘The Apprentice’ shows that always included guests that were diverse in terms of race, sex, skill and national origin. Had Dr. King been opportune to watch any of the Apprentice series, especially the ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ (my personal favorites were Lil Jon, Joan Rivers, Piers Morgan and Trace Adkins), he would have been a very happy and proud American as the shows furthered Dr. King’s principles of diversity, love, equality and human dignity. Therefore, it is a head-scratcher for me as to how the Trump TV show persona who I enjoyed watching where he was very respectful and quite humble at times to the point of being apologetic when firing a diverse option of contestants is in stark contrast to the Trump character that resides in the White House that has unapologetically uttered racist comments on many occasions the latest being that Haiti and African countries are shitholes while affirmatively declaring preference for Norway citizens to be granted immigration. Without going into whether the President is racist or not – clearly Trump’s comments are very racist – his utterance not only was vulgar but also false for the following 5 reasons:

  1. The shithole comment falsely presumes that immigrants of African and Haiti decent do not contribute positively towards uplifting America. From billionaires like Adebayo Ogunlesi and Kase Lawal to sports legends like Hakeem Olajuwon, scientists like Dr. Bennet Omalu and the world-renowned musician, Wyclef Jean of Haitian descent have done more to make America great again than the average American. In fact, TPS recipients of Haitian descent have median household incomes of around $45,000 per year and participate in the labor force at higher rates than the native population while 23 percent of Haitians hold mortgages. Tearing them out would be a massive shock to the US banking system.

  2. The comment presumes that immigrant descents from all 54 African countries qualify for TPS protection. This is false. US immigration policy and law is motivated by various factors including but not limited to attracting skilled labor, investors/ job creation, tourism, and where warranted charity/compassion which leads me to the issue of countries that were designated for Temporary Protected Status(TPS) by the Secretary of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for one reason or another as I extensively discussed in a previous blog post. Inherently and intentionally, only countries that find themselves in a, borrowing from Trump, ‘shithole’ situation can qualify for TPS – due to civil war or natural disaster (e.g., earthquakes). Due to the narrowly defined requirements, only 2 out of 54 African countries are currently on the TPS list namely, Somalia, and South Sudan.

  3. Another false presumption based on the Trump comment is most of these immigrants arrived illegally and therefore pose a massive risk from a consideration of crime. Due to proximity constraints, the vast majorities of African immigrants arrive legally through the US border and therefore avail themselves to inspection and other aspects of the immigration process. Further, in order to attain TPS approval, the applicant must undergo an extensive vetting process that severely mitigates the risk of granting approval to applicants who would otherwise be a burden on American institutional systems. In fact, the contrary is true: terrorist acts are conducted domestically much more by American born citizens than foreigners especially as recently exhibited by the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting.

  4. Trump’s shithole comment further appears to me as a larger strategy to muddy the waters with respect to discussions and negotiations on reaching a resolution that will save around 800,000 DACA dreamers from deportation this year. I discussed the DACA issue last year and there is no relationship between TPS and DACA enrollees but following the fallout from the shithole comment, Trump suggested that the chance of DACA being solved is slim to none. What does one have to do with the other? Nothing. DACA talks about children who were brought in illegally by their parents and have lived almost all their lives in America and usually with almost no recollection of their country of descent. They can’t go back because America is the only country they know and were brought here through no fault of theirs. TPS are folks who came to the USA, usually on a legal visa but cannot return to their country because it is unstable due to an earthquake or civil war and the USA has recognized that it would be heartless to send citizens of those countries back to a damaged environment. The issue is Trump revoked TPS status for Haitians this month whereas the DACA deadline is March 5, 2018. Legislators tried to extend the time for Haitian TPS immigrants during negotiations for DACA which partly led to Trump flipping out with the shithole comment.

  1. Immigration critique based on nation of origin is flawed as it presumes that for instance, citizens of Norway will be more accomplished than immigrants of Haiti or African descent solely based on their country of origin and skin color. This is not true. For instance, the educational attainment for African immigrants exceeds that of most European immigrants considering the percentage of the population with masters and Ph.D. degrees. Most of these degrees have added highly and valuable skilled personnel to America in fields of medicine, pharmacy, nursing, law, and engineering to mention a few. Obviously, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain that there is no correlation between a person’s country of origin and academic attainment levels whereas there is a direct correlation between a person’s skill level and work productivity and overall capability. Consequently, many are business owners, homeowners, philanthropists, community leaders and otherwise strong fabrics of the American society.

The bottom-line is it is one thing to make a racist statement but it becomes even worse when the statement is false on many fronts. The irony of all of this is that anti-immigration President Trump is a product of German immigrants by way of his grandparents. If you are affected by TPS, DACA or need additional information on any other legal matter, feel free to contact us for a free 10-minute consultation. Happy MLK Jr., day!

#Dreamers #shithole

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