For Donald Trump — the likely Republican nominee whose presidential immigration plan aims to weed out Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and Syrian refugees — a person’s past history seems like a very important determinant to admit anyone onto American soil.
Trump has long claimed that Syrian refugees who enter the country have “no documentation whatsoever.” He also called for them to be “even more strongly vetted.” These applicants are actually vetted through intensive background checks and mandatory documentation fed through various federal agencies, but those same standards don’t seem to apply to the vetting process on Trump’s own campaign.
For example, it’s unclear whether Trump’s campaign knew prior to hiring Jason Miller as communications director on Monday that he previously tweeted out anti-Trump comments. Miller has since deleted those tweets.
Miller’s not the only hire that raises eyebrows. Roger Stone does not have an official role in the campaign, but he is considered a “campaign confidante,” “long-time ally,” and “closest political adviser,” as ThinkProgress previously reported. Stone reportedly once created a fake identity, making donations to President Richard Nixon’s opponent from the Young Socialist Alliance. He then told a local newspaper about those donations, saying that Nixon’s opponent was a left-wing extremist.
Katrina Pierson, the spokesperson for the Trump campaign, has a shoplifting charge from 1997, though she insisted that she has since turned her life around. Steve Mnunchin, Trump’s campaign finance chairman, purchased a bank and began foreclosures on thousands of people’s homes. Those foreclosures were reportedly accomplished through fraud. Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, was charged with misdemeanor battery, but a court did not prosecute him. Paul Manafort, hired by the Trump campaign to make sure he secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination at the Republican National Convention, co-founded a lobbying firm that has bankrolled on representing dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko, dictator of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo).
Trump is reportedly having a difficult time finding people who want to work on his general election campaign. While his people don’t appear to have been thoroughly vetted before they’re brought on board, it seems worthwhile to take a look at what immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers have to go through.
Among one of the various forms that would-be asylee applications have to fill out is the I-589 application, where they have to answer whether they or any other member of their family included in the application had “ever committed any crime and/or, been arrested, charged, convicted, or sentenced for any crimes in the United States.” If the answer is yes, they have to give a lengthy explanation about the incident, charges, and whether imprisonment or detention was involved. What’s more, the 21-step process to vet Syrian refugees is already the most stringent process that any immigrant can go through.
Similarly, immigrants who apply for naturalization in this country have to answer approximately 10 questions about their past criminal history. For immigrants with a criminal history, their applications may raise red flags and even be rejected.
Despite the criticisms lobbed against immigrants, studies have shown that the vast majority of new immigrants are hoping to contribute to the United States. Between 2006 and 2010, there were 2.4 million new immigrant business owners in the country, whose net business income totaled $121 billion. Even undocumented immigrants paid around $11.64 billion in state and local taxes.
The stringent immigration vetting process won’t get easier. But under the Obama administration, the country has encouraged employers to move away from asking about the criminal history of potential applicants, believing that providing incarcerated individuals with jobs and life skills could make “communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization.”