This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Xenophobic Will the Trump Administration Be?

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump spent a lot of time talking about building a wall to keep out migrants from Mexico and refusing to accept refugees from the Middle East. Will this campaign rhetoric translate into genuinely xenophobic policies? That question was put to me by a local TV station the day before Trump's inauguration. It turned out that I was genuinely not available to talk to them that afternoon, but it later made me think about what I would have said had I been available. Trump has a habit of being unpredictable, so any prediction is ipso facto likely to be wrong. The reporter had suggested I read and respond to an article that had come out that morning in the LATimes by Brian Bennett. I have just now had a chance to do that:
Gone will be the temporary protections of the final Obama years for people in the country illegally. In their place, say immigration advocates and people familiar with his plans, expect to see images on the evening news of workplace raids as Trump sends a message that he is wasting no time on his promised crackdown.
In addition to the high-profile raids, those people said in interviews, Trump will also widen the range of people singled out for deportation, focusing on those with criminal convictions, and he could move immediately to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the U.S.
He may also limit who can come into the country as a security measure, making good on a sweeping vow to stop immigrants “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.”
Taken together, the actions would result in a significant shift in how immigration law is enforced, which could itself create a ripple effect that alters the immigration pool and how the 11 million or so in the U.S. illegally live their lives. Unlike some of his other big-ticket plans, such as replacing Obamacare, Trump can act on immigration without Congress under the president’s wide legal authority to control borders.
These are, of course, predictions based on campaign talk. Missing in the campaign talk, however, and generally in the media, are the facts that make quick action on immigration less likely: (1) the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico has declined dramatically over the past decade; (2) immigrant communities are generally well-integrated into American society and have been for a long time; (3) the U.S. economy would sink if a significant fraction of undocumented immigrants were deported; and (4) former President Obama was known as "deporter-in-chief" and it would take a huge effort to outdo him on that score, even though Republicans never wanted to give him "credit" for that.

The last point is interesting because a story in The New Yorker reveals that the massive deportations of former gang members from Los Angeles back to their native El Salvador has created--among many other things--a new industry there of call centers staffed by deportees whose English is better than their Spanish. 

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