The Trump Administration’s Crackdown on Legal Immigrants Exposes Its Racism
Lost amid the harrowing stories of children separated from their families is another xenophobic aspect of President Trump’s immigration policy. That’s his effort to sharply limit the number of legal immigrants, who are increasingly from Asia, from entering the United States.
Yes, I said “legal.” These are not undocumented immigrants—the usual Trump target. On the contrary, they are women, men and children who have followed all the rules and laws of the complex immigration process. They deserve recognition. But to Trump and his base of older right-wing white men, they are the enemy, making America less white every year.
Some are refugees, forced to flee from natural disaster, political oppression and gang violence. Others are immigrants, wanting to come to the United States. Some seek temporary visas their employers use to bring in highly skilled employees and their dependent spouses. Other immigrants seek admission to this country because relatives or fiancés have filed petitions asking that they be admitted to this country. Some are orphans.
What most have in common is that an increasing number are not white.
According to the website Stateline, published by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the largest number of immigrants are beginning to come from Asia, especially China and India. Neither of these countries is covered by the Trump administration’s efforts to ban immigration from Muslim majority countries. India is 80 percent Hindu. China is home to the world’s largest Buddhist population.
So, as it turns out, Trump is not just worried about Muslim terrorists or Central American gang members, as he claims. It’s racial difference that apparently bugs him and his most devoted followers.
The Pew Research Center said lawful immigrants account for about three quarters of the foreign-born population of the United States.
They have applied, been vetted and then wait for permission to immigrate for six years or more. Once in the United States, after a period of time, they can become citizens, taking their oath to support the country in ceremonies often covered by the media. These ceremonies are usually hailed with pride as reminders that we are a nation of immigrants.
But President Trump and his crew have a different view. They don’t want us to be that kind of nation.
Trump is considering reducing the number of refugees—those forced to flee their native lands—from 45,000 a year to between 20,000 and 25,000, according to The Daily Beast and The New York Times.
In addition, the administration has made it increasingly difficult for nonrefugee immigrants, who choose to resettle here, to gain entry into the country. The Migration Policy Institute outlined the restrictive steps in a report last month.
“Some applicants … must provide 15 years’ worth of travel and employment histories and residential addresses,” the report said. “Some are also asked for the usernames they have used on all social media accounts in the last five years. While many applicants are not currently required to provide this information, the administration has signaled it eventually plans to make it mandatory for most.” These provisions, the report said, have likely slowed down the processing of legal immigrants.
“All of these actions move the United States toward the administration’s ultimate goals of decreasing immigrant admissions and expanding deportations,” the Migration Policy Institute said.
Journalist Ezra Klein explored this last month in Vox. He wrote that America’s black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed-race populations are expected to grow—indeed, the Hispanic and Asian populations are expected to roughly double, and the mixed-race population to triple.
The Migration Policy Institute said, “The foreign-born share of the U.S. population is at its highest level since 1910, with the approximately 44 million immigrants living in the United States representing 13.5 percent of the overall population. With U.S. fertility rates at a historic low, the Census Bureau projects that net international migration will be the main driver behind U.S. population growth between 2027 and 2038.”
The Brookings Institution projects that the nation will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will make up 49.9 percent of the population in contrast to 24.6 percent for Hispanics, 13.1 percent for blacks, 7.8 percent for Asians, and 3.8 percent for multiracial populations.
The liberal Klein saw a downside for progressives in all this in his Vox article. He wrote: “Demographic change, and the fears and hopes it evokes, is one of the tectonic forces shaping this era in American life, joining income inequality and political polarization in transforming every aspect of our politics and culture. …”
Klein said this could help the Republicans. “Even gentle, unconscious exposure to reminders that America is diversifying—and particularly to the idea that America is becoming a majority-minority nation—pushes whites toward more conservative policy opinions and more support of the Republican Party.”
Immigration will be a big issue in the fall election. Pew found that out of 2,002 Republican and Democratic adults surveyed from June 5 to 12, immigration emerged as the top issue they most wanted to hear 2018 candidates talk about. In fact, about one in five voters mentioned immigration—more than mentioned either health care or the economy.
If Klein is right, this is not good news for the Democrats. But, as is often the case with us journalist-columnists, Klein equivocates. “To say American politics is in for turbulence is not to say we are in for dissolution. “A majority of Americans—though not of Republicans—believe the browning of America is a good thing for the country. And we have watched states like California and Texas transition into majority-minority status without falling to pieces.”
That’s how I see it. Spanish is the language I hear on the streets and in businesses as I pursue my days in Los Angeles—except when it is Farsi, Mandarin or something else. Our mayor, Eric Garcetti, who is considering running for president, is Jewish, Latino and Italian. The new owner of our biggest newspaper, the Los Angeles Times, Patrick Soon-Shiong, is Asian-American, welcomed to L.A. by a City Council member representing the fast-growing Korean-American community, David Ryu. And so it goes.
I’m betting on people like them, rather than Trump’s minority older white base. And I’d say so-called base. I imagine there are people who voted for Trump who are now sick of the racist, dishonest Trump administration.
So take your 30 to 35 percent “base,” Trump, and refill its tanks with more hate. I’ll take the better America I see every day.