Immigrant Scapegoating Didn't Start Under Trump--It Was ‘Greatly Accelerated’ Under Clinton

Donald Trump’s harsh immigration policies “haven’t sprung from thin air,” but rather owe a debt to legislation signed by former President Bill Clinton, says attorney and Truthdig columnist Bill Blum. (Center for American Progress Action Fund; Gage Skidmore / CC 2.0)

In this week’s episode of “Scheer Intelligence,” Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer interviews attorney Bill Blum, a Truthdig columnist and a lecturer at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.

The two examine Blum’s recent column, “Bill Clinton Laid the Groundwork for Trump’s Ugly Immigration Policies,” in which Blum explains how Trump’s harsh policies “haven’t sprung from thin air” but rather “owe a specific debt to legislation enacted during the tenure of none other than President William Jefferson Clinton.”

Blum tells Scheer how he found “legal antecedents in the Clinton administration” that “created the machinery that Donald Trump and his team now want to use to expand the deportation of the undocumented population in the United States to new levels.”

Scheer commented that, although Blum’s column is “startling” to many readers, it reinforces an important narrative: Trump is not a new manifestation of evil, but rather an outcome of decades of inequality. Scheer adds that Blum’s analysis reminds readers of the overlooked failures of the Democratic Party.

“Scapegoating immigrants and linking immigrants to crime — particularly violent crime — didn’t begin with Donald Trump,” Blum continues. “It was greatly accelerated under Bill Clinton.”

Blum also addresses the expedited removal of undocumented immigrants. Blum explains:

“[Trump] is building on what was already given to him by the law. And I don’t think we can just say, ‘Oh, this is the process of unforeseen consequences at work. … When it comes to illegal immigration, I have to think people as smart as the Clintons understood those consequences as well. So what I would like to advocate is that as we struggle for a progressive approach to immigration, we don’t seek to return to the status quo before Donald Trump. Because that was unacceptable.”

The two also discuss the Mexican border and the war on drugs, as well as the economic impact of undocumented immigrants. Listen to past editions of “Scheer Intelligence” here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

Robert Scheer
Editor in Chief
Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist. His columns appear in newspapers across the country, and his…
Robert Scheer

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