But his decision this week to roll back a program that gives individuals from nations stricken by conflict and poverty the ability to legally live and work in the United States clearly shows that the Trump administration never really understood what made America great to begin with.
I waited in dismay for weeks as the White House hinted at its plan to end Temporary Protected Status for thousands of men and women. The thousands of Nicaraguans who were previously shielded by the TPS program now find themselves the latest victims of President Trump’s mass deportation agenda.
The White House additionally put thousands of Hondurans, Salvadorans and Haitians on notice.
This is not new behavior from the president – his xenophobic campaign lashed out at anyone he didn’t consider a “true” American.
But opting to deport men and women who hail from countries suffering from the type of abject poverty and extreme violence that most of us can never truly grasp shows just how far this president will go to appease extremist voices in the Republican Party.
For three decades, individuals from countries around the world have found a safe haven within our borders. In turn, these men and women have contributed immensely to our economy and our communities.
Today these deeply rooted individuals are home and business owners, parents to U.S.-born children, and vital contributors to our economy.
If President Trump moves forward and deports the estimated 300,000 TPS recipients in the U.S., these men and women would be forced to face the hard choice of disrupting their families’ unity or uprooting their children and abandoning their businesses.
This would cause a loss of an estimated $164 million to our economy.
Once again, President Trump faces a moral test. He’ll soon decide whether to ignore our history and disregard our place in the world, or whether to lead with empathy and compassion.
As a son of New York, I often turn to the poem engraved on the Statue of Liberty to help me define what makes America great.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door,” it reads.
That “welcome to all” mentality so perfectly describes what makes America great. We opened our communities to these men and women who’ve found safe haven, opportunity, and their slice of the American dream through Temporary Protected Status.
This desire to grow and build our country - to bring into the fold those who came from outside of it - is what makes us strong, what makes us great, and what makes us American.
America can only truly be considered great - truly be considered a leader - when it adheres to the principles that made our country great in the first place.
Joe Crowley represents the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the Ways and Means Committee and serves as chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.