Whatever your feelings about President Donald Trump, we should all take offense at his outrageous and crude rants when it comes to Mexico and Americans of Mexican descent. Our southern-door neighbor was among the first nations on earth to order their national flag at half-mast on 9/11. They are our third largest trading partner next to Canada and China. Over a million Americans are retired and live in Mexico, and millions more vacation there every year, enjoying a lifestyle the average Mexican can’t afford. Almost without exception the Mexican people welcome Americans to their country with friendship and kindness. We are tied to Mexico culturally, economically, geographically and increasingly by family.
It was us as a people who elected this ultimate ugly American as president, one who intends to build an Iron Curtain that effectively walls off Mexico from the U.S., like Russia did East Germany during the Cold War. Certainly we can agree we need to secure our borders and keep our population safe. But an enhanced Border Patrol was, and still is, more effective than a wall, a symbol that is already becoming a despicable insult to the friendly government and the 130 million good and decent people of Mexico.
By all means renegotiate NAFTA. We have $525 billion in annual trade with Mexico, and it exports $63 billion more to the U.S. than it imports, a figure that our deal-maker-in-chief said could easily be corrected through negotiation. But that sum is less than the $65 billion deficit we have with Germany or the $69 billion with Japan and is no comparison to China’s whopping $347 billion bilateral surplus, a country Trump has suddenly completely reversed himself on as a trade and currency manipulator. Last year China imported just $115 billion of goods from the U.S., Japan $63 billion and Germany just $49 billion, while Mexico imported $232 billion worth of goods from American businesses. Obviously, Mexico is one of our better trading partners.
If this were simply about illegals taking our jobs, the Trump administration could put a stop to it by levying heavy fines on the businesses that lure them as a source of cheap labor. If illegal workers couldn’t find jobs in this country, they would return home. But it is politically easier for Trump to harangue and attack a desperate people rather than take on the exploitative businesses that hire them.
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Trump’s bullying is undoing years of good will by previous presidents and could give rise to a new wave of anti-Americanism in Mexico that could last for decades. It could pave the way for the election of another hostile state like Cuba or Venezuela on our southern border. The United States has more than its fair share of haters, so why create another?
So be outraged. Stand up. The very idea of building an Iron Curtain on our border is a stain upon our honor, our common decency, and goes against everything that America stands for.
Hank Corless is a retired U.S. Army and Marine Corps veteran, and a member of the Western Writers of America. He and his wife, Donna, live in Eagle.