Labor leader says Trump immigration ban “another distraction” from bad coronavirus performance
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to Trump: "Stop tweeting. Start leading." | Alex Brandon / AP

WASHINGTON—GOP President Donald Trump’s executive order banning all immigration to the U.S., issued via a Trump tweet early in the morning on April 21 is “another distraction” from Trump’s own bad performance in leading the national fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

And it’s part of a Trump pattern in reacting to bad news which could politically hurt him, adds AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. It’s also “part of us needing something and him”—Trump—“not providing it.”

“He didn’t provide any details, and now he’s trying to scapegoat immigrants,” the federation chief added during an April 21 telepress conference.

Trumka offered his analysis in the context of two developments: Trump’s immigration ban, which follows the GOPer’s prior racist and xenophobic bans against specific groups of immigrants, and constant criticism, now hitting home, about his failures in battling the coronavirus.

Those failures show up in illness totals, death totals, and jobless claims. In the absence of Trump regime action, all but seven U.S. governors have issued some form of shutdown orders to prevent “community spread” of the disease. And the country is now in its deepest slump in decades.

Lack of Trump movement early enough and strongly enough to have the federal government lead the charge against the virus has cost 22 million workers their jobs and millions their health insurance, too, Trumka said.

Instead of talking about the jobless, Trump charged immigrants would take U.S. workers’ jobs, a position organized labor, led by then Unite Here President John Wilhelm, rejected two decades ago.

“Trump tweeted he was suspending immigration. He didn’t provide any details. He never does. We know what this is. We’ve seen it before. President Trump is trying to distract from his failure to lead us through this crisis,” Trumka said, later repeating his press conference words in a series of tweets.

“And now he’s trying to scapegoat immigrants. He’s using a pandemic to tarnish the American Dream. Not on our watch.”

“Suspending immigration won’t create a single job. It won’t save a single pension. It won’t protect a single community. All it will do is rob America of what truly makes us great: our diversity.”

“The economy may be shut down. But we will not allow this president to shut down the country we love. Stop tweeting. Start leading.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.