Thursday, August 03, 2017

Trump's Hypocritical Immigration Law Would Backfire Bigly

An article in the Washington Post documents that many in the Trump administration, including Trump himself, would never have been born if Trump's new immigration proposal had been the law of the land. The law would allow only immigrants who speak English and have skills that are in demand.

Friedrich Trumpf, Donald's grandfather, had no skills and couldn't speak English. Trump's own mother came from Scotland, speaking Gaelic and some English, but had no skills: she was listed on the immigration forms as a maid.

Stephen Miller, the Trump adviser pushing the bill, had a great grandmother who could only speak Yiddish. Kellyanne Conway's great grandfather only spoke Italian.

And when Elaine Chao, wife of Mitch McConnell and a member of Trump's cabinet, came to the US in 1961, she couldn't speak a word of English.

This is not to denigrate these people or their ancestors. My grandfather came to America from Norway as a child in 1905, without knowing a single word of English. He married a Norwegian woman, and they spoke Norwegian exclusively at home. They refused to integrate: my father didn't learn English until he went to grade school.

This is the story of the vast majority of Americans: most everybody who came here in the last 200 years did so because they were poor or to escape war or racial or religious intolerance.

Millions of Irish, Italians, Germans, Poles, Norwegians, Swedes, Hungarians, Czechs, Russians and countless others came here in the 1800s and early 1900s and were considered "inferior races" by the dominant Anglo-Saxon power structure. And now their descendants have forgotten the prejudice and hatred their ancestors faced, wishing instead to inflict it on others.

Even as recently as 1960 some people seriously believed that Catholics couldn't be "real" Americans, forcing John F. Kennedy to make a speech about religion in which he said:
But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected president, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured — perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again not what kind of church I believe in — for that should be important only to me — but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.
These comments resonate to this day, with so many questioning Muslim Americans' ability to show loyalty to this country.

I agree that the United States cannot accept every person who wants to enter. There has to be some kind of minimum criteria for admittance, criteria of the sort that let Trump's grandfather and mine into the country. Beyond that it should be a lottery: we need all types of workers, as shown by Trump's recent expansion of the H2-B visa program and Trump's own application for 76 visas for housekeepers, cooks and waiters to work at his resorts and clubs.

The fact is, Trump's proposed law will hurt native-born Americans, reducing the quality of living for all. Since it would give preference to people who have marketable skills and speak English, most immigrants would be Chinese, Indian and Pakistani financiers, entrepreneurs, programmers and engineers.

Trump's law would allow a flood of highly-educated foreigners to take well-paying jobs from American college graduates, depressing wages in the tech and financial sectors. Preventing low-skill immigrants from entering the country will either accelerate automation or push Americans into those tedious, back-breaking, dangerous and low-paying jobs in food service, housekeeping, agriculture and meat packing that have been filled by immigrants in recent years.

As the recently revealed telephone conversations between Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Australia showed, Trump has knowingly punked his voters on everything from the border wall to refugees: he's only concerned about his own appearance and doesn't give a damn about the well-being of Americans.

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