IN only a few days on the job, new American President Donald Trump is already making history. He is the most unpopular incoming U.S. President ever. His inauguration was marked with the biggest “anti” protest ever, not only in the United States, but in many other countries as well.
Additionally, both before and since becoming President, Trump has been alienating significant sections of the population: women, the media, his intelligence personnel, and has been busy creating a string of controversies. Now, scientists who disagree with the President’s views on climate change are planning a protest of their own as are other environmentalists.
To say that Trump’s accession to the presidency of the United States has unleashed a firestorm in America and worldwide is putting it mildly. In most countries people are concerned about one thing or another, given the agenda he has been pushing before and since he became president. If this was happening some other place it would not have raised the ire of so many, but this is the United States, the so called leader of the free world, the country which most other nations look to for leadership and hope when things are not going well internationally. Instead, tag like “fascist” and “authoritarian” are being applied to the new administration in Washington so very early in its reign and the president himself is beginning to seen as a bully.
Trump has already signed a number of executive orders and one which should concern us in St Lucia and the rest of the Caribbean, deals with so called “illegal immigrants”. There is the plan to build a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out, a project some say that could cost as much as US$15 billion, although others maintain that such a project is not even feasible. But the plan is to hound down “illegal immigrants” and deport them and this has already started in Miami. Given the prevailing atmosphere in the United States, there are fears that such a campaign could give officials the right to harass immigrants which could turn violent and nasty.
The thing is “illegal immigration” has been a feature of life in American for centuries. In fact, the American economy has benefitted from it tremendously. Over the years administrations formed by both the Republicans and The Democrats have actually facilitated these low wage earning immigrants whose sweat has built up American business, by protecting them from harassment by immigration officials. One recalls President Obama signing an executive order that temporarily provided work permits to hundreds of thousands of young people brought to the country as children.
But we are dealing here with Donald Trump. People who previously did not take him seriously and thought that he was simply running his mouth with the things he was saying are having to rethink. Many in the Caribbean were apprehensive when he defied all the odds to win the election in November, but not many believed that he would have moved so swiftly into the kind of action that could bring so much pain, so quickly, to America’s southern neighbours.
St Lucia and every other country in this region depend heavily on family remittances from abroad, particularly the United States, for their economic and social well-being. In 2015, remittances to the Caribbean and Latin America rose 6 percent to US$65 billion, repeat US$65 billion. We don’t have the figures but we know that traditionally, such remittances have been an important economic indicator for St Lucia. Sending back illegal immigrants would be another nightmare for our little islands already struggling with high unemployment rates.
Trump may not be aware of the impact his new drastic immigration policy will have on the rest of the hemisphere but maybe he simply does not care. The implications for this and other Trump policies on the United States itself and the rest of the world are so frightening and far reaching that some oddsmakers do not think he would make it a year in the White House and are putting up various scenarios that could propel his early fall. It’s a scary position for an incoming U.S. President to find himself in, but Trump seems to be reveling in this kind of atmosphere and the various controversies that are being spawned. He will continue to do so until something happens that brings him down from his high horse.