The acute labor shortage on the Outer Cape would likely become massively worse under a second Donald Trump presidency — which appears increasingly probable if you believe public opinion polls.
The New York Times last week reported on Trump’s plans for an “extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration … including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled.” Legal immigration would also be severely restricted. People from certain Muslim-majority countries would be refused entry to the U.S., and asylum seekers and other migrants would be barred based on the idea that they carry infectious diseases.
“In a second Trump presidency,” the Times reported, “U.S. consular officials abroad will be directed to expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people the Trump administration considers to have undesirable attitudes.”
Stephen Miller, an architect of the former president’s previous immigration policies, would play a central role in a second Trump administration. “Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to implement the most spectacular migration crackdown,” Miller told the Times. He says mass deportations of immigrants will be “celebrated by American workers, who will now be offered higher wages with better benefits to fill these jobs.”
That’s not what happened when the pandemic slashed the number of foreign workers here. Jobs went unfilled. Businesses and their customers did without. What workers there were suffered burnout.
Times columnist Paul Krugman says the belief that immigrants take jobs away from Americans simply isn’t true. “The number of jobs, and hence the economy’s growth, is limited by the available work force rather than the other way around,” he writes.
Fear and hatred of immigrants appears to be a surefire way to win votes. That can be the only reason for Trump’s increasingly virulent language about migrants, who, he said in a recent speech, are “poisoning the blood of our country.” He told a crowd in Iowa that “we will carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history,” referring to it as “the Eisenhower model.”
He was talking about the expulsion of Mexican immigrants in 1954 — a campaign called “Operation Wetback.” This time, maybe it will be called “Operation Vermin,” a favorite term of both Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler.
Recognition of the crimes that have been carried out in the name of racism and xenophobia ought to be enough to make us all condemn this campaign regardless of our politics.
Even if conscience fails us, living here will expose early to the damage an anti-immigration campaign will do. In the county with the largest natural population decrease in the Commonwealth, we need immigrants not only for their labor but for their energy and their belief in a better future. We need them to keep us young.