In particular, Morgan’s struggle on one question highlighted a deeper inequality that runs beyond just immigration. Tapper pointed out that “researchers at Syracuse University found that, from April 2018 to March 2019, the Trump administration prosecuted zero companies and only 11 individuals for employing undocumented immigrants.” First Morgan tried to turn the question back on Tapper (“you’re saying, on one hand, that we’re not doing enough, and then, when we go out and we actually do what you’re saying we need to do more of, [we] are chastised for doing that”). Then he dodged twice, first on the grounds that the investigation was pending and then on the grounds that, as CBP commissioner, “I’m not involved in those investigations.” (As Tapper later noted, Morgan previously was acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where he certainly would have been involved with such investigations.)
Morgan avoided answering, of course, because there is no real defense for this double standard. And what makes this disparity particularly important is how it benefits the president. As Tapper noted, last week The Post reported that “at least eight Trump properties have employed immigrants who entered the United States illegally.” Yet despite this and many other stories about Trump-owned companies using undocumented immigrants, “there have been zero raids on any of those companies,” said Tapper. “It seems like you guys are turning a blind eye to this crime being committed by the president’s own companies.” Morgan responded with his most elegant dodge yet, “Well, so you really can’t say that for sure, because there are investigations going on all the time that you’re unaware of. And we shouldn’t be aware of those investigations.” Somehow I suspect there aren’t any such investigations to be “aware” of.
It’s worth noting that this discrepancy in enforcement is a policy change under the Trump administration. Before President Barack Obama’s first term was over, his administration had already accumulated more audits and penalties on employers than were imposed during both terms of of the George W. Bush administration. Funny how employer audits almost completely dried up after a president whose companies employ undocumented immigrants entered office.
To be clear, simply punishing more employers is not the long-term solution. Ideally, we would reform the immigration system to expand legal immigration and allow millions of undocumented immigrants in the country to come out of the shadows. But the Trump administration has made a terrible situation worse by opting for an immoral double standard that disproportionately punishes the poor and non-white.
This echoes other legal and/or moral double standards elsewhere in American society. Opioid addicts are arrested while, until recently, the companies flooding states with pills avoid legal trouble. Homeowners delinquent on their mortgages get kicked out by police while mortgage companies get away with systemic fraud. And poor defendants end up in prison while rich defendants with high-priced lawyers get slaps on the wrist for the same crime. Defeating Trump in 2020 must be seen as only a first step; it’s long past time this country confront and end these hypocrisies.