Stephen Miller (Santa Monica native, Duke grad and self-appointed defender of African-American workers) led a press conference on immigration today where he tried the standard Republican trick of playing the victim. You can watch the entire exchange at C-Span. Miller at one point said Jim Acosta was exhibiting cosmopolitan bias by quoting Emma Lazarus’s poem “Give me your tired your poor…” That should probably be transcribed as (((cosmopolitan))) bias, but same difference.
Miller was at the presser because the administration is pushing a bill introduced byTom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA) to reduce by 50%, the number of immigrant visas available each year. That’s legal immigration, cut in half. It was introduced a week after the Muslim ban, and was the first sign of this administration’s determination to attack all forms of immigration. Millions of people eligible to emigrate to the US already face 5 or 10 year waits (only if you’re brown/Asian) before they are allotted an immigrant visa. There are no such lengthy wait times for immigrants from European countries. This bill would stretch those waiting times even longer. The bill did not receive much attention initially, it was overshadowed by the spectacle of visitors with valid visas were turned back at our airports. Perhaps it will now.
Talking to Bannon on air in September 2015, Sessions, who has received awards from virulently anti-immigrant groups, described the present day as a dangerous period of “radical change” for America, comparing it to the decades of the early 20th century, when waves of immigrants flooded the country. He said that the 1924 immigration quota system, which barred most Asians and tightly capped the entry of Italians, Jews, Africans and Middle Easterners, “was good for America.” Bannon is also uncomfortable with the changing face of the country. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think — ” he said on the radio with Trump in November 2015, vastly exaggerating the actual numbers. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” — NYTimes Magazine
The most anti-immigrant administration America has seen in at least 80 years occupies the White House today. This administration is offended by legal immigrants as much as it is by undocumented immigrants. Their initial directive to cancel the green cards of more than 250,000 Muslims was not an error or a misreading of the law. It was done deliberately and with the intent.
Bannon and Sessions have effectively presented the country’s changing demographics — the rising number of minority and foreign-born residents — as America’s chief internal threat. Sessions has long been an outlier in his party on this subject; in 2013, when his Republican colleagues were talking primarily about curbing illegal immigration, he offered a proposal to curb legal immigration. (It failed in committee, 17 to one.) — NY Times Magazine
At the center of the current Republican hatred for immigration is an age-old explanation, racism. The only immigrants this administration finds acceptable are those from Europe. Here is how Breitbart describes their aims:
“Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the alt-right… the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration…The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.” — Breitbart
This is white-nationalism, and its adherents occupy the White House and Congress. In the Senate, Jeff Sessions has long been their champion. He now controls the federal legal apparatus. In the Senate, his voice has been replaced by Tom Cotton. The base that has cheered on the Trump/Bannon executive orders on Muslims and undocumented immigrants could not be any clearer about their desires. They want “separation between races” by halting immigration. Once that’s done, they would like to find a way to expel millions of legal immigrants from the US. Trump/Bannon/Session/Cotton have given them every signal that they intend to make their white nationalist dreams come true.
At least one witness said that the gunman, identified as Adam W. Purinton, 51, yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire […] several officials said at a news conference that they were looking into the possibility that the shooting was a hate crime.
— NY Times on Kansas shooting that left one Asian-Indian engineer dead.
White nationalism has a long history in the US. Brannon and Trump are the direct successors of political factions that kept overt racial quotas on immigrants in place for a hundred years. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act removed these quotas among the flurry of reforms prompted by the Civil Rights movement. That law is deeply resented by this administration. Trump’s executive order and Cotton’s bill are designed to test that law’s prohibition on discrimination by nationality.
“I have a question in my mind,” Sunayana Dumala said after her husband, an Indian engineer, was shot dead last week in a Kansas bar. “Do we belong?”
This administration’s animosity towards non-white Americans goes further than immigration. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, dislikes the 14th amendment’s clause granting citizenship to every child born in the country. Aided by Sessions, the Bannon-Trump administration will attempt to undermine birthright citizenship and undermine this law which has been part of our constitution since the civil war, over 150 years ago. The 14th amendment was enacted to ensure that no state or executive could ever again deny the rights and privileges of citizenship to a child born in the United States. Trump and Sessions would like to undo this, and the administration is appointing people to various agencies to help him in his endeavor.
America’s successful grand strategy “did not come from nowhere: it followed from our deeper conception of ourselves and our American identity. Who are we Americans? What is our nation? We are not an ethno-state, with identity rooted in shared blood. The option of a White Man’s Republic ended at Appomattox.… Our nation is based on an idea — that all are created equal — that, when embraced, makes us Americans.” — Foreign Policy
Republican’s anti-immigrant policies require a political solution. Immigrants and those who value them will have to organize to repel the anti-immigrant policies of this administration.
We do have one hidden advantage. By 2018, 13 million green card holders in the USA will be eligible for citizenship. Many of them have lived here for decades without acquiring US citizenship. If they wish to stay, they should apply for citizenship and vote in 2018.
Lady Liberty needs our help if she is to keep her beacon aloft by the golden door.