The Washington Post ed board makes a powerful case of how Trump made an immigration deal more difficult with his “ethno-nationalist venom.” Eugene Robinson weighs in with a column that argues the only arguments for Trump’s immigration plan are racial and cultural, and that his proposal is aimed at halting the browning of America. Both are excerpted below.
Washington Post editorial: “Trump Could Have Embraced an Immigration Deal. Instead, He Poisoned the Debate”
In his State of the Union address, President Trump seemed intent on burying any chance of enacting legislation to protect the “dreamers.” Instead of reaching out to Democrats to fashion a readily achievable compromise, the president injected more ethno-nationalist venom into a debate he already has done much to poison.
Eleven million immigrants are living in this country without legal documentation, but the vast majority of them are otherwise law-abiding. In fact, they are overwhelmingly employed, long-term residents who contribute to their communities in all manner of ways. That is especially true of the dreamers, young people brought to this country as children by their parents. Very few Americans want to see the dreamers rounded up and deported, so you’d think a president would search for common ground to prepare the way for their eventual path to citizenship.
Instead, Mr. Trump chose in the most inflammatory way possible to associate immigrants with a horrific crime committed by a vicious gang. Rather than reminding Americans of their common roots as immigrants and stressing that immigration is the cornerstone of the American story, Mr. Trump vilified them.
Mr. Trump could have sought a constructive way forward. He could have urged Congress to forge a straightforward deal — a shield for the dreamers in return for border security. Some Democrats would be reluctant to give the president his “beautiful wall”; some Republicans would balk at “amnesty” for dreamers. But if Mr. Trump embraced the deal, so would Congress.
Maybe the saddest moment of the speech came when Mr. Trump tried to knock the dreamers off their sympathetic perch with the cleverly contemptuous line, “Americans are dreamers, too.” Yes, of course, Americans are dreamers. But he should finish the thought. For most dreamers, the United States is the only country they know. Dreamers are U.S. soldiers, high school valedictorians, the young couple living next door. Yes, Americans are dreamers — and dreamers are Americans. If only we had a president who understood as much.
Eugene Robinson: “Trump is trying to Make America White Again”
The administration seeks to drastically curtail the ability of immigrants to sponsor family members for entry into the country. This can only be seen as an attempt to halt the “browning” of America.”
The net result of Trump’s plan — the whole purpose, apparently — would be to welcome fewer people of color into the United States. In an Oval Office meeting, Trump reportedly demanded to know why there couldn’t be more immigrants from countries such as Norway. Surely it is not a coincidence that Norway is one of the whitest countries in the world.There’s a simple question here: Do you believe in America or not?
Throughout its history, the country has accepted waves of mostly low-skilled immigrants — German, Irish, Italian, Eastern European, now Latino. There are highly skilled immigrants, too; African newcomers, for example, are better-educated than the U.S. population as a whole, and an estimated 63 percent of people holding “computer and mathematical” STEM jobs in Silicon Valley are foreign-born. But most immigrants over the years have arrived bearing not much more than grit, ambition and a dream.
And we should recognize that immigration gives the United States a tremendous competitive advantage. In other advanced countries, populations are aging rapidly. Immigration provides a steady stream of younger workers whose brain and brawn keep programs such as Medicare and Social Security viable.
The only coherent — if despicable — arguments for Trump’s plan are racial and cultural. The way they used to put it in the Jim Crow days was succinct: White is right.