Trump’s vulgarity towards immigrants
The United States President Donald Trump created diplomatic havoc yet again, in a meeting with members of Congress on migration matters on Jan. 11, 2018. During the meeting, he reportedly referred to some African countries, alongside Haiti and El Salvador, as “shithole countries.” Besides the domestic debate whether his comments were president-like, his pronouncement is the latest indication of his disrespectful, insensitive and churlish attitude towards foreign countries and individuals he does not seek or expect a profit from.
The United Nations and the African Union, as well as several African countries that have immediately summoned U.S. ambassadors to their countries to register their displeasure and concerns, promptly condemned his latest remarks. U.S. diplomats around the world tried to save the day by reaffirming the U.S. commitments to its relationship with its partners and indeed with these countries. Even Trump attempted to fix his gaffe by saying his remarks were mispresented and taken out of context, and that they were a reflection of his tough stance about immigration from those countries, not about their integrity per se. But no apology was forthcoming. As the world becomes used to Trump’s coarse behavior, he seems to manage to go one step deeper every time.
This time, his brutish remarks come from his long-time anti-immigrant beliefs and current policy. His first act as the president was to sign the executive order on Jan.25, 2017, to suspend the U.S. refugee programs and temporarily ban the admission of citizens of seven Muslim countries. His desire and constant nagging about constructing a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico to stop illegal migration is another example.
He came to power promising to reduce the number of immigrants residing in the U.S. and has been trying to draft a new immigration system based on merits and skills rather than family unifications or the lottery, which he deems as dangerous. In line with the Executive Order 13780, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” signed by Trump on March 6, 2017, he believes that preventing chain immigration to the U.S. would enhance the security of the American people.
Indeed, according to a report on the Executive Order 13780 Initial Section 11, released on January 2018 by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice, 73 percent of the 549 individuals, who were convicted of international terrorism-related charges in U.S. courts between Sept. 11, 2011 and Dec. 31, 2016, were foreign-born. Also, 45,858 foreign nationals, who applied for immigration, later committed “egregious public safety-related offenses” within the U.S.
Of course, these figures do not mean much, when the figure for total “egregious public safety-related offenses” committed by U.S.-born citizens were not given. Yet, it is a fact the U.S. hosts 43.7 million legal and illegal immigrants as of July 2016, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, and immigrants constitute 13.5 percent of the total population. This is the highest share of the population since 1910, which holds the all-time record with 14.7 percent.
While the Trump Administration has been implementing various policies to reduce the number of immigrants residing in the U.S., these policies, as well as Trump’s careless comments, hamper U.S. soft power capabilities globally. If he wishes to make “America great” again as he frequently claims, then he needs to consider employing smart power, combining hard and soft power approaches, instead of trying to hammer his positions on his interlocutors every time he faces a problem. Otherwise, in today’s multidimensional world, he will not be likely to achieve his desired gains with his protectionist policies and belittling rhetoric.