It's the season of Thanksgiving, though for many voters it may not feel like there’s much to give thanks for given the result of the presidential election. But that’s not true. The United States is and always will be the land of opportunity, and the American Dream will continue to be a goal for so many regardless of who resides in the White House. Having said that, we feel immense empathy for the immigrant population, particularly our Irish undocumented who are fearful and wondering what the future will hold in a Trump administration. The president-elect certainly used fighting words towards the undocumented and indeed other groups of immigrants – Muslims, Mexicans – in his campaign for the White House, and his supporters will fully expect him to act, and quickly, after he’s been inaugurated. Trump has signaled his first immigration priority will be to deport undocumented aliens with criminal records aside from visa violations – a number that could go as high as three million. And it’s impossible to argue with the logic that someone convicted of a crime, particularly those involving drugs or violence, has no place in this country.
How Trump will deal with the remainder of law-abiding undocumented residents, many of whom are the unspoken engines that drive so many of our industries, remains to be seen, but he won’t be waving a magic wand to make them all go away anytime soon. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a proponent of a path to legalization for the undocumented, recently told CNN that “we are not planning on erecting a deportation force. Donald Trump’s not planning on that.
"I think we should put people's minds at ease: That is not what our focus is. That is not what we're focused on. We're focused on securing the border,” Ryan added.
That’s certainly good to know, and we’ll take the speaker at his word for now. We don’t have any other tangibles at this point as to where Trump plans on going with his immigration-related promises, but he’ll soon find out that talk is one thing; putting words into action in a government that is based on a system of checks and balances is entirely another.
Given that reality, we hope that the undocumented will take a deep breath and try and put their fears aside. If that’s easier said than done, they should know that support is readily available from the Irish immigrant centers throughout the U.S. who are ready to help them navigate these uncertain times.
The Irish still have many friends in Congress, none more than New York Senator Charles Schumer, who last week was elected to the powerful position of Senate minority leader by his colleagues.
Schumer is the best kind of retail politician, a powerful force on Capitol Hill for years who has never forgotten his local roots or the people who vote him into office. He still makes it a point to attend many Irish events throughout the year, and his commitment to the undocumented is real. Having him in our corner will be crucial, and even Trump realizes his savvy, sending out a tweet on Sunday lauding Schumer as able to get things done.
“Good news!” Trump added, and on that we heartily agree with the president-elect.
Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.