It was about a dozen days ago that Republican candidate Trump formally assumed office and to say that this very short period has been dramatic would not be a hyperbole. Traditionally the first month or so considered being the ‘honeymoon’ period for new occupants of the Oval office. But try telling that to Trump. In fact, try telling anything to him right now. The blistering pace at which he is going about redefining US policy with regards to a multitude of subjects is unprecedented.For many cynics who felt that a lot many of his promises made during the election campaign were mere rhetoric and too radical to be implemented, these last few days have been a nightmarish wake-up call. To give Trump credit where it is due he is a man of his word. A man who walks all his tall talk, a man who has a plan that he is busy implementing. That too on a war footing. Encapsulated below are some of the measures that he has initiated so far.
The TPP Trade Deal – The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is one that folks usually confuse with the similar sounding TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) but knowing the kind of Animosity that Trump has for trade deal as a whole, the latter could be axed sooner than later. The #TPP involved 12 countries who account for more than a third of the entire world trade. The short term aim of the TPP was to bolster trade relations, economic ties and strive towards creating a common market, not unlike the EU. The fear was that it could cost Americans jobs. #Trump described the deal in just a word -region. The fear was that it could cost Americans jobs. #Trump described the deal in just a word – Horrible. So out it went. And that was that. So out it went. And that was that.
Obamacare – Here things are a little hazy. The Executive Order has asked the relevant agencies to grant exemptions from fees related to the PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) commonly known as #Obamacare. As part of the move, all advertisements asking folks to sign up were stopped. The trouble is that Trump does not really have a Plan B.Also reports that repealing the PPACA could cost more than a million #AmericansJobs is making Trump wary. The grapevine suggests we might see it PPACA in a different ‘Avatar’ Question is – why is affordable health care a matter of debate even? More controversial is the decision to cut US funding for all global family planning organizations which even broach the topic of abortion let alone facilitate it. Bad this is.
Immigration & refugee issue – Of all the moves undertaken by the President the one that has got everyone worked up is this one. On one hand, Trump put a temporary block of 90 days on #Immigrants from 7 Muslim countries. Plus he has also put on hold #USRefugeeProgram for four months with Syrian refugees being an exception. They are prevented from entering the country ‘indefinitely’ There is also talk of building a wall along the shared border with Mexico but with costs of building such a wall likely to be humongous it might not come through.What will happen after 90 days and what will be the long-term repercussions of this on the American war ‘on terror’ Watch this space for more.P.S. In the midst of all this, Trump actually found time to send an elite team of Navy Seals (Seal Team 6) to Yemen with the explicit aim to take out suspected Al Qaeda militants. The raid resulted in injury to two of these Seals and the unfortunate death of another.
‘Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States’ That is what the #Executive Order by President-elect #DonaldTrump barring the citizens of seven Muslim nations from entering the United States of America is titled. Unsurprisingly it has stirred a hornet’s nest the world over with opinions being bitterly divided. ” America is a country of immigrants.” These are not the words of ex-President Obama. This is what singer Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen had to say while criticizing the controversial Executive Order at a concert of his the other day. Coming from the man who sang the iconic ‘ Born in the USA’ back in 1984 and is regarded as one of the enduring symbols of modern America, immigration is clearly an emotive issue. There are of course supporters of Trump who are hailing this as a landmark move. And in what must worry naysayers this is perhaps only the first step in realizing the grand vision of Donald Trump. What he likes to fondly call ‘#AmericaFirst’
History tells us that native Americans started settling there as far back as 20000 years ago and it was only around the 15th century that European settlers started coming to the #US lured by the promise of free land, abundant natural resources, and religion freedom. The Spaniards were one of the earliest comes around the 16th century followed closely by the British and the Dutch. It was these early settlers who brought along with them slaves from the far off continent of Africa. At the end of the 17th century when the government of the day conducted it’s the first census the British made up the largest number of ‘immigrants’ to nobody’s surprise. Natives of Africa made up for two-fifths of the population. But the real Americans, the natives who first set foot in this great land were ‘omitted’ from the census. Extinct perhaps?
The Industrial revolution in late 17th century America was a period when the predominantly agrarian country grew to become one of the industrial powerhouses of the world. This was also a time when hundreds of thousands of #Immigrants from all over came to the US in search of greener pastures (read jobs) The invention of the steam engine further reduced the time taken to reach America from faraway shores and this time it was the Irish immigrants who benefited greatly in this period. In fact, it is well documented that after this for fifty years from 1880 more than 25 million immigrants entered the country, the highest in it’s history. The Second World War brought in thousands of Jews escaping persecution from Nazi forces in Europe. The 60s were when the highest influx of immigrants from South East Asia happened. Clearly, immigrants have been arriving in the US for as long as the country has existed. So what is it that Trump is fussing about?
Over the last 50 years, illegal immigration has become the bane of this country. Homeland Security reported that as far back as 2012 there were 11 million living illegally in the US and as of 2015, 46 million people living in the US were born elsewhere. For a country of 300 million people that is a huge number.
Getting in by land, air or sea via Canada and Mexico has become child’s play. In Trump’s defense it must be said that time and again there have been moves undertaken by the government to deal with the immigration ‘problem’ In 1882 the Chinese were barred from entry for 10 years then extended for 10 years and it was only in the 1940s this was eased as China was an ally during World War Two while Jews entering the US restricted to 26000 per year. For the Iranians, it must be deja vu for in 1979 during the Iranian hostage crisis when US Embassy members were held hostage, Iran was denied entry to the US. Perhaps the weirdest order of them all was in the 1980s when President Reagan banned HIV patients from entering the US.
So while we can argue about the merits and demerits of Trump’s new ruling, he is surely not the first #USPresident to do so. And one suspects he will not be the last either.