Monday: The Racism and The Cruelty are the Point

Three Dutch Women Portraits of Ellis Island Immigrants

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m working through a migraine right now.  My left eye decided to go rogue so we’ll see how long I can get through this before both my body and spirit become weaker. I’m disheartened by the continued cruelty at the heart of Trump’s White Supremacist approach to immigration and it’s getting increasingly challenging for me to keep up with the news.

This latest headline via Politico–“Trump to restrict immigration based on use of public benefits”–just completely blows away the idea that it’s just “illegal” immigration that Trump hates.  It’s all immigrants but especially the ones who don’t fit his deplorable and shallow standards.  No matter if you’re legal or not and struggling, Trump has decided you shouldn’t be here.  This is a lot from a Trust Fund baby who cannot manage to feed himself without breaking the law.

The Trump Administration issued a rule Monday that allows federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have received certain public benefits or who are deemed likely to do so in the future.

The “public charge” regulation — pushed by White House senior adviser Stephen Miller and other hard-line officials — is the latest part of President Donald Trump’s vast immigration crackdown. While Trump has railed against migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, the new regulation represents his most ambitious effort yet to restrict legal immigration as he gears up for his 2020 reelection campaign.

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli praised the regulatory change at a White House press briefing Monday morning.

“We want to see people coming to this country who are self-sufficient,” he said. “That’s a core principle of the American dream. It’s deeply embedded in our history, and particularly our history related to legal immigration.”

Conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation have touted the measure as a way to limit immigration to self-sufficient foreigners who won’t be a drain on public resources. The Republican Study Committee — a group that includes roughly three-quarters of House GOP lawmakers — praised the regulation as “a step in the right direction” in a budget proposal released in May.

Romanian Shepard

I would just like to say that I have no idea how many immigrants actually have come into this country that are “self-sufficient” at all times but I would venture to think not many.  Every one of us who survived Katrina was given debit cards and food stamps to help us get through that disaster including foreign students and others. Does that count against folks too?  I remember thinking “Happy 50th birthday Kathy, you’re homeless AND on food stamps!!”

So, what is the purpose of this? Via WAPO: “Trump administration tightens rule that could deny green cards, citizenship to immigrants who need public assistance.”

The new policy for “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” which appeared Monday on the Federal Register’s website and will take effect in two months, sets new standards for obtaining permanent residency and U.S. citizenship. The Trump administration has been seeking to limit those immigrants who might draw on taxpayer-funded benefits, such as many of those who have been fleeing Central America, while allowing more highly skilled and wealthy immigrants into the United States.

Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance in the process for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge,” as well as who is likely to be one under U.S. immigration law.

Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told reporters at a White House briefing that his agency is moving to more clearly define a long-standing element of U.S. immigration law.

“Through the public charge rule, President Trump’s administration is reinforcing the ideals of self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, ensuring that immigrants are able to support themselves and become successful here in America,” Cuccinelli said.

The move comes as part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to build new bureaucratic obstacles to the U.S. immigration system, at the same time that the president seeks to put physical barriers on the Mexico border. The administration has slashed the number of refugees admitted to the United States, tightened access to the asylum system and expanded the power of the government to detain and deport those lacking legal status.

Three women from Guadeloupe in route to Montreal Canada.

Many asylum seekers and immigrants from countries with political upheaval rely on sponsorship in order to pull their lives together. There are many, many Americans whose families have historically come to the United States to avoid turmoil and starvation.  The diaspora from the Irish Potato Famine comes to mind.

My mother traced our family roots back when you had to get microfiche from all over and do a lot of digging. She prided herself on getting at the point that each and every family line relatives first stepped foot on US soil.  Each one of them came because they saw something here and they wanted to be a part of it so they came of their own free will and desire to be better . The most riveting stories to me were those of my father’s family that came from the Alsace Lorraine area that was captured by Napoleon.

Slovak Woman with children

My Jewish ancestors and Huguenot French ancestors from Alsace Lorraine came with nothing to their name after that invasion because once returned to France, their stores, farms and homes in the region were deeded to the Church in Rome.  They were called Pennsylvanian Dutch even though they were neither and worked their way west to become farmers culminating with my father being the first to get a degree in the line that lead to me.  That’s the big American Dream story for any one in this country today even if their ancestors didn’t have a choice in coming to America.

There is no difference between the dreams of these immigrants or my earlier ones many who signed the Declaration of Independence and fought for the Union or  the one British Great grandfather I had that joined many in coming through Ellis Island or any immigrant that comes here today.  I helped sponsor my Lama from Nepal and two of his children are here, graduated university, and his youngest son is finishing Med School having worked his way in restaurants to get through university.   The family is indigenous Tsherpa.

The Diaspora of black Americans from the South have similar themes.  Escaping the Jim Crow laws of the South and the terror of the KKK, many black families went north to make better lives for themselves and their families.  This is a truly American story and you don’t have to be born here to appreciate the Dream.  Hard working folks that take any job available to take their families to education and higher levels should be welcomed any where in the US.

Image result for immigrants vintage photos ellis island

Jewish Immigrants from England

So this deliberate cruelty to people wishing to better themselves that may need some help from us tears at my heart and sensibilities.

This is from Adam Serwer last month writing for The Atlantic: “What Americans Do Now Will Define Us Forever. If multiracial democracy cannot be defended in America, it will not be defended elsewhere.”  He wrote this shortly after the “Send Her Back” chants were heard.

The conservative intelligentsia flocked to the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., this week for the National Conservatism Conference, an opportunity for people who may never have punched a time clock to declare their eternal enmity toward elites and to attempt to offer contemporary conservative nationalism the intellectual framework that has so far proved elusive.

Yoram Hazony, the Israeli scholar who organized the conference, explicitly rejected white nationalism, barring several well-known adherents from attending, my colleague Emma Green reported. But despite Hazony’s efforts, the insistence that “nationalism” is, at its core, about defending borders, eschewing military interventions, and promoting a shared American identity did not prevent attendees from explicitly declaring that American laws should favor white immigrants.

Some other attendees, such as National Review’s Rich Lowry, took pains to distance themselves from the president’s brand of nationalism. “We have to push back against Donald Trump when he does things to increase that breach between the right and African Americans,” Lowry said. But in the fall of 2017, when Trump attempted to silence black athletes protesting police brutality, Lowry praised his “gut-level political savvy,” writing, “This kind of thing is why he’s president.”

The conference stood solidly within the conservative intellectual tradition, as a retroactive attempt by the right-wing intelligentsia to provide cover for what the great mass of Republican voters actually want. Barry Goldwater did not break the Solid South in 1964 because the once Democratic voters of the Jim Crow states had suddenly become principled small-government libertarians; voters who backed Donald Trump in 2016 did not do so because they believed a nonracial civic nationalism had been eroded by liberal cosmopolitanism.

The consensus that American civic nationalism recognizes all citizens regardless of race, creed, color, or religion was already fragile before Trump took office. That principle has been lauded, with varying degrees of sincerity, by presidents from both parties, and in particular by the first black president, who reveled in reminding audiences that “in no other country in the world is my story even possible.” The nationalism that conservatives say they wish to build in fact already existed, but it was championed by a president whose persona was so deformed by right-wing caricature that they could not perceive it. Instead, they embraced the nationalism that emerged as a backlash to his very existence and all it represented.

Trump’s nationalist innovation is not taking pride in his country, supporting a principled non-interventionism, or even advocating strict enforcement of immigration laws. The only thing new Trump brings to the American nationalism of recent decades is a restoration of its old ethnic-chauvinist tradition.

These are undoubtedly sons and daughters of immigrants deemed unfit for US immigration by the No Nothings and the anti immigration furor that started in the 1920s as a result of the massive immigration from parts of Europe deemed unworthy of saving.  The US immigration Act of 1965 was supposed to end the idea that some races were worthy of immigrating and others were not.

Changes Introduced by the Immigration Act of 1965

Among the key changes brought by the Hart-Celler Act:

  • Quotas based on nation of origin were abolished. For the first time since the National Origins Quota system went into effect in 1921, national origin was no longer a barrier to immigration. “With the end of preferences for northern and western Europeans, immigrants were selected based on individual merit rather than race or national origin,” Chin says. “Accordingly, there were many more immigrants from Asia, Africa and other parts of the world which had traditionally been discriminated against.” The act also established new immigration policies that looked at reuniting families and giving priority to skilled laborers and professionals.
  • It restricted immigration from Mexico and Central and South America. According to Chin, there were no numerical limitations on immigration until 1921, but Western Hemisphere immigration had been exempt. “Based on the Monroe Doctrine—and the desire for the free flow of labor, especially agricultural labor—there had been no cap under the National Origins Quota System,” he says. “The 1965 act established a cap on Western Hemisphere immigration for the first time. It also followed on the unwise elimination of the [guest worker] Bracero Program in 1964. These decisions disrupted traditional patterns of labor movement and agricultural production in the United States in ways we are still grappling with.”
  • It changed immigration demographics and increased immigrant numbers. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, in 1965, 84 percent of the U.S. population consisted of non-Hispanic whites; in 2015, that number was 62 percent. “Without any post-1965 immigration, the nation’s racial and ethnic composition would be very different today: 75 percent white, 14 percent black, 8 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent Asian,” the report finds.Comparing 1965 to 2015, the Hispanic population rose from 4 percent to 18 percent; and Asians grew from 1 percent to 6 percent. “This fast-growing immigrant population also has driven the share of the U.S. population that is foreign-born from 5 percent in 1965 to 14 percent today and will push it to a projected record 18 percent in 2065,” the report continues, noting that no racial or ethnic group will claim a majority of the U.S. population.

This was imagined by President Kennedy and signed into law by LBJ so it was a centerpiece to all of the Key Civil Rights/Voting Rights efforts whose goal was to end racial discrimination in all walks of life.  It only can be seen in the same light as Civil Rights and Voting Rights. These are rights that  the Republicans–under Trumpist Rule–also seek to undermine.

This Time Magazine piece–written by Julissa Arce–sums it up succinctly: “Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric Was Never About Legality — It Was About Our Brown Skin”.  Indeed today’s action affirms this.

I was 11 when I immigrated to San Antonio from Mexico. When I turned 14, my tourist visa expired and I became undocumented. After more than a decade without papers, I became a United States citizen on Aug. 8, 2014.

I naively believed that when I legally became an American, with a passport that proves I belong here, all the fears I had while living undocumented would be erased: fears of being separated from my family, of being detained, of being deported, of never being fully accepted in this country. But the election of Donald Trump, his racist and harmful lies about immigrants, the policies enacted by his Administration and the violence he has incited against brown people have removed the rose-colored glasses through which I once viewed this country. I now see America more clearly for what it is: a place where the color of your skin is the most important factor. And if you’re black, brown or any other nonwhite ethnicity, it’s the thing that can make you a target of hate.

Trump has spent his entire presidency building upon the anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric he put forth when he disparaged Mexicans as rapists and drug smugglers at his campaign launch. Last October, as thousands of Central American migrants made their way to our southern border to seek asylum, Trump tweeted, in part, “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” In May, while speaking of migrants during a rally in Panama City Beach, Fla., he asked, “How do you stop these people? You can’t.” One woman had an idea: “Shoot them!” she shouted. The crowd cheered and clapped. “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that statement,” Trump responded with a smirk.

Trump claims that he doesn’t have a problem with immigrants so long as they enter this country the “right way.” In that same October tweet, he wrote, “Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process.” In reality, seeking asylum is a legal way to enter the country, but not only has Trump called our asylum laws “ridiculous,” his Administration has taken action to restrict the options for those seeking refuge. His treatment of migrants has already had deadly consequences with more than two dozen deaths in U.S. custody since 2017, including at least seven children. Now Trump’s rhetoric has turned deadly as well. On Aug. 3, a white nationalist opened fire in a crowded Walmart in El Paso as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” he wrote in a manifesto prior to the shooting. The shooter didn’t stop to ask any of the 22 people he killed for their papers, or if they came to the U.S. “the right way,” or if they immigrated “legally.” That’s because it isn’t actually about legality. It is about our brown skin in America.

Trump’s amped up re-election rhetoric is making the country unsafe for People of Color and religious minorities.  These are the same people who have historically come to our country for safe haven.  He is making it a living hell instead and quite purposefully so.

Still, activism continues to stop this and the Jewish Community is keenly aware of how badly all of this can end. Many have taken to the streets.

 

 

Please have a nice and safe week and remember to be kind to yourself and others!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?