Trump: ‘Illegal Immigrants Are Taken Much Better Care of by This Country Than Our Veterans’
Donald Trump told a Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally that people in the U.S. illegally often are cared for better than the nation’s military veterans. Trump was speaking at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where hundreds of thousands of bikers gathered to honor prisoners of war and service members missing in action.
“In many cases, illegal immigrants are taken much better care of by this country than our veterans,” Trump told the attendees. “We’re not going to allow that to happen any longer.”
“We’re gonna rebuild our military,” he continued. “And we’re gonna take care of our veterans. Our veterans have been treated so badly in this country.”
Donald Trump tries to show he has the back of our country’s veterans, however there has been some rather large controversial moments during his campaign. Trump once said that Senator John McCain wasn’t a war hero because he was caught by the enemy, and has yet to apologize for making that comment. Trump also claimed for 4 months that he donated $1 million dollars to veteran charities, which he eventually did but only after journalists uncovered he was lying the whole time.
Donald Trump does have a point that veterans must be treated better by our lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat, as the Veterans Administration has seen its troubles over the years. From unsatisfactory treatment and conditions at the Walter Reed Medical Center and long wait times under George W. Bush, to Obama firing Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki in 2014 for long wait times and false record-keeping. And not much has been done because to this day wait times are still an issue at VA hospitals.
However, all that aside, the main issue here is how Donald Trump is making a false choice between veterans and illegal immigrants. He is instilling a nativist “us-versus-them” mentality to his supports by exploiting veterans to play on patriotism by pitting them against illegal Mexican immigrants. In effect, Donald Trump is trying to convince you that there are only two choices, “fund vets or fund illegal immigrants,” when there are actually more than two options.
There are probably hundreds of different and competing ideas to raise revenues or reform spending in order to fund better VA services. For example, we could end or cut back on corporate welfare, which according to the right-leaning CATO Institute cost taxpayers $100 billion per year. And another choice would be to let the Bush tax cuts expire, which according to the Congressional Research Service cost taxpayers on average $350 billion per year. Even Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare would leave 37 million people uninsured again but would save taxpayers on average $67 billion per year. To boil a very complex answer down to “either vets or illegals” is simply illogical and dishonest.
Finally, Trump is pushing some long debunked far-right conservative myths how illegal immigrants are “a drain on the system” as the basis of his statement. These myths come from anti-immigration organizations, such as Center for Immigration Studies and Federation for American Immigration Reform, who consistently put out flawed studies that feed right-wing ideology for stronger immigration policies.
The fact is tax revenues of all types generated by immigrants, both legal and unauthorized, exceed the cost of the federal services they use. Undocumented immigrants pay into, but do not qualify for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs require proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, even legal immigrants cannot receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than five years.