The Cornell Latin American Student’s Society addressed the ramifications of President Donald Trump’s executive order regarding immigration and Trump’s long held promise of mass deportation in a lecture on Wednesday evening in Mann Library.
The lecture was led by Prof. Sergio Garcia-Rios, government and Latina/o studies program and Prof. Matthew Hall, policy analysis and management.
CLASS decided to host the event to shed light on the impact Trump’s executive order — which, the group indicated, has consequences that are not only limited to Muslim Americans, though most of the outrage surrounding the order has been directed toward its effect on the Muslim community.
CLASS organizers also wanted to “add complexity” to the issue after a panel discussion was hosted by the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs just last week to address the concerns of international students who are from the seven Muslim-majority countries directly affected by the order.
“We felt like the fear of our communities kind of got lost in that shuffle [of protests],” said Christine Barker, CLASS’s director of partnerships and a second-year CIPA Fellow.
Garcia-Rios explained that historically, executive actions such as that of Trump have expanded the power of the president extending back to FDR’s presidency.
“Historically, the president actually was a figure without power at all,” Garcia-Rios said. “We had an executive clerk that had very limited or almost no legislative power. What we expected was that the president would be someone who would execute, who would take things into action.”
Garcia-Rios’s main argument was that the politics surrounding executive orders are “not as simple as one might think.”
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, according to Garcia-Rios, was clear example of President Obama using an executive order to gain political points. The former president announced the policy on June 15, 2012, only a couple months before his reelection.
“Just that small announcement [of DACA] made Latinos much more excited and increased his support,” Garcia-Rios said.
Citing demographics of Hispanic immigrants, Hall explained that the Hispanic population has “exploded” over the last several decades despite the fact that immigration immigration itself has plateaued since the 2008 recession.
“Even if immigration is completely cut off, the Latino population is going to continue to grow at a pretty rapid rate,” Hall said.
Hall added that it is for this reason that “the American future is directly tied to the success and the progress of the Latino population.”
Therefore, President Trump’s plan to build a wall may be trying to solve a problem that does not exist, according to Hall.
At the same time however, deportation has increased dramatically over the past eight years. Hall said that about 400,000 people were deported annually under President Obama, compared to about to about 200,000 under President Bush.
“Obama deported more people than any other president by far,” said Hall, overseeing programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities, or S-Comm, to increase deportation.
Both controversial programs, 287(g) deputizes police officers as immigration agents and S-Comm created programmatic coordination between the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and local jails, making it easier for unauthorized immigrants to be arrested.
Hall ended his portion of the lecture by discussing his own research that studied the connection between deportation and foreclosures, as well as the effects that mass deportation would have on the economy.
“Removing the unauthorized population would increase labor costs, reduce innovation, lead to pretty substantial losses in GDP and would lead to fiscal deficits,” Hall said.
According to the Center for American Progress, total economic costs could be in the trillions.
Consideration of these important but sometimes overlooked consequences was part of the reason CLASS held the event, according to Barker.
“We wanted make sure that people on Cornell’s campus really understood what the implications of mass deportation of up to 12 million people will have for the entire country,” she said.