Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) began their New York Times op-ed on President Trump and immigration by recapping the tale of Elián Gonzalez, the young Cuban boy who made it to Florida in 1999 and then, when U.S. courts ruled he had to return, was "pulled from the arms of a sheltering adult by a team of heavily armed federal agents," a scene "seared in the minds of many people as a low point in the immigration debate." Under Trump, "brace yourself for the possibility of seeing this kind of scene again," they wrote.
Bush and Kasich were focusing on Trump's decision to rescind residency and work protections for about 200,000 Salvadorans invited in by the U.S. after a 2001 earthquake in a "merciful act." They collectively had 190,000 kids in the U.S. and "it is wrong to potentially break up so many families that have for so long made the United States their home — legally and at our invitation," the governors write.
The Republican Party has "consistently and rightly advanced policies to support the essential role of families in America," and "singling out Salvadoran families for separation is simply a bad idea that should be dropped," Bush and Kasich write, quoting former President Ronald Reagan. Securing the U.S. border and figuring out how to normalize the status of "the 10 million to 15 million undocumented immigrants" already here — "who, let's be honest, will not and should not be forcibly removed" — are the two biggest challenges, they add, and "when prioritizing the immigration problems we face, the case of 200,000 Salvadorans who accepted our invitation to live and work here legally would not even make a Top 10 list."
Kasich and Bush wrote their op-ed before Trump reportedly called El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations "shithole countries," but Bush tweeted that he hoped the president's alleged words "were just a crass and flippant mistake, and do not reflect the hateful racism they imply." Peter Weber