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BEHIND THE HEADLINES: What if Donald Trump became President?


TONY BEST

BEHIND THE HEADLINES: What if Donald Trump became President?

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THE 60-SOMETHING BAJAN, who has lived longer in America than he has breathed Barbados’ air, is determined to exercise his  “constitutional right” to end what he sees as a pending “disaster”.

That nightmare: the possible election of Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate mogul, as the next occupant of the White House who would succeed President Barack Obama, America’s first black chief executive.

To ensure that his name was on the voter’s list, he called the New York equivalent of the Barbados Electoral and Boundaries Commission and enquired about his voting privileges as a naturalised American citizen since the mid-1970s. Within a matter of two weeks, he said the other day, he received official documentation that yes, he can vote on November 8.

“I am determined to use my vote to help stop Donald Trump,” said the retired professional who requested anonymity, while describing the billionaire Republican presidential standard-bearer in next month’s general election. “He frightens me. But I ask the question: how a man with his misogynist and racist personality, an ignoramus when it comes to international affairs, emerges as the leader of the party of Abraham Lincoln? It is beyond my imagination. His presence on the ballot shows how far the US has sunk.”

Although Hillary Clinton, a former Secretary of State who sat for several years in the United States Senate, thanks to the votes of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers of colour, including immigrants from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St. Lucia and their neighbours, is “no sweetbread”, he plans to vote for her.

“I don’t care about the fact that if elected she should be the first woman president. What I do care about is the fate of immigrants during the presidency of Donald Trump,” said the man who is often described as a “self-made, successful entrepreneur”.

But he isn’t alone. Almost every day, or so it seems, immigrants from the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa, and Asia voice such misgivings about “the Donald” and in the days since last Wednesday night’s third presidential debate during which Trump renewed his vow to rid the country of millions of immigrants, the question that’s most often asked begins with: “what if?”

Asked simply: if Trump won the election how would he lead the administration and the country? America, a land of immigrants, where according to Forbes’ list of 400 billionaires, the country’s richest people “precisely 42 slots” trace their origins to countries that range from Taiwan, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Britain, Australia, Brazil and the Ukraine to Israel, Russia, Greece, China, and Pakistan, would put up “no entry signs” to Muslims, a few of whom would come from Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados and The Bahamas.

At the same time, a Trump administration would seek to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

Millions of the deportees would have done nothing more than get on the subway in New York without paying a fare or would have committed minor offences that would have been bunched together so they are considered felonies.

To be fair, some of them would be hardened criminals who committed murder, rape, drug trafficking, armed robbery and other heinous crimes and deserve to be kicked out.

Of course, Washington can be expected to build a wall along the borders with Mexico to keep out Hispanics and other people of colour and it would introduce a religious litmus test to give some Christians, not all, an easier passage into the land of opportunity, which, by the way, maintains the world’s most generous immigration entry provisions.

If Trump gets the White House green light, as he explained recently,  funds to population agencies would be cut if they offer services that help women to end their pregnancies and he would put judges on the Supreme Court who would interpret the law in such a way that would make abortions illegal. That mindset could reduce the assistance the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) receives and that helps them do excellent work across the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The UNFPA whose Caribbean regional office is in Kingston, Jamaica could be forced to curtail, not eliminate, some of its work in the eastern Caribbean.

Would Trump pursue a beneficial trade agreement with countries in the Caribbean basin so they can sell more to the US? That’s unlikely because their markets are too small to be of interest to Trump whose assets amount to slightly more than $6 billion.

However, the Caribbean’s offshore financial services industry which has been under the intense gaze of tax regulators in Washington looking for tax evaders in Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, The Bahamas, Antigua, Barbados, and the British Virgin Islands, would benefit from an easing of US pressure. Conservative Republicans tend to be less stringent in the application of financial services laws outside of American borders than Democrats.

On the other hand, Clinton would open the immigration door even wider by offering a pathway to naturalised American citizenship.

Foreigners who are naturalised, just like the Bajan  who is intent on voting for Clinton, currently account for six per cent of the US population.

If you add non-citizens to the list of foreign born in the country, immigrants account for at least 13 per cent of the population.

But she may use her executive and other powers and centres of influence to tighten the monitoring of the offshore centres in the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Over all, though, Clinton would be far better for the Caribbean than Trump who cares little for the plight of people of colour.

This deeply racist candidate and some of those around him, like Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, would leave no stone unturned to disadvantage the poor at home and in the developing world.

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