One of the basic rules of politics is to define topics in a way that maximizes the number of voters on your page and minimizes the number of voters on the other side. That's why prudent Republicans are targeting the immigration debate for law-breaking. They praise legal immigration and claim to look after all Americans who might lose their job to border guards. It's not about ethnicity, they argue. It does not even matter if you were born here. It's about respecting and aligning the law. This is a message that most Americans can support.
President Donald Trump destroyed this message. This week he called on four Democratic congressmen "to return to the lands from which their families emigrated . Three of the four legislators – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, Ayanna Pressley from Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib from Michigan – were born here. Trump warned every American whose ancestors came to this country by targeting them: they too can be asked to go home.
Trump has often complained about minority immigrants, regardless of their legal status. Go back and watch the 2015 speech in which he launched his presidential campaign. "If Mexico sends its people, it does not send its best," he explained. They bring drugs, they bring crimes, they're rapists, and some, I suppose, are good people. "Not once in the speech did Trump state whether they were legal or illegal immigrants.
In public, Trump sometimes pretends to love legal immigrants. But behind closed doors, he has made it clear that he does not like people of certain nationalities. During a meeting of the Oval Office on legal immigration in 2017, Trump claimed that Haitians coming to the US "have all AIDS" and that Nigerians, if allowed to travel to our country, would never "return to their huts" He continued talking about legal immigration on Haiti, El Salvador and Africa: "Why are all these people from fucking countries coming here?" He complained on Twitter that " he had to accept people from high-crime countries bad . "
The rejection of immigrants on the basis of race, ethnicity or nationality is far more topical than the rejection of immigrants who violate the law. It is also politically dangerous. There is a risk that not only the many Americans whose families come from Africa, the Middle East or Latin America, but also millions of other voters who feel uncomfortable with open prejudices. Nevertheless, Republicans could get away with it – and benefit from the voices of xenophobes and bigots – unless they take the next step. The next step is the use of ethnicity to address not just immigrants, but naturally born American citizens.
Trump has crossed this line many times. In 2015, he objected to the patriotism of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, who had married an immigrant from Mexico. Bush's wife Columba has been an American citizen for almost 40 years. That did not stop Trump from suggesting on the basis of Columba Bush's ancestors that Jeb Bush could not be trusted to secure America's borders. First, Trump retweeted a claim that Jeb Bush "must like the Mexican illegals because of his wife." Then Trump repeated this claim on CNN: "If my wife were from Mexico, I would be a weakness for people." Mexico."
Trump also questioned the belief and loyalty of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose father had immigrated legally from Cuba. During the presidential contest in 2016, Trump persistently warned Evangelicals against trusting Cruz because, as Trump put it, "not many evangelicals come from Cuba." In addition, Trump Cruz & # 39; was eligible for the presidency on the grounds that Cruz was "born in Canada." Cruz was automatically American and eligible for service because his mother was a US citizen, but Trump did not care.
Sometimes Trump does not need to clarify, in the denigration of ethnic communities, whether they are immigrants from non-citizens, naturalized Americans, or people born here. In 2015, at a rally in Alabama, he falsely stated that he had "thousands of people" in New Jersey, where there is a large Arab population, celebrating the September 11 attacks. They cheered as the World Trade Center came down. "If anyone missed the bow, Trump repeated," There were people in New Jersey watching him, a strong Arab population cheering as the buildings came down. "The size of Trump's claim -" thousands of people "," large Arab populations "- implied that he accused Arab Americans, not just immigrants, of supporting anti-American terrorism.
Sometimes Trump explicitly targets naturally born Americans of certain ethnicities or religions. In 2016, he warned against future terrorism by Americans whose parents came "from the Middle East". "The children of Muslim immigrants – they are responsible for a growing number … of terrorist attacks," Trump said at a rally in North Carolina. In an interview with Fox News, he claimed that "no real assimilation exists among American second and third generation Muslims." In a prepared speech he condemned the terrorism of "new immigrants and their children".
This week's attack on Democratic congressional women marks an escalation of Trump's rhetoric against minority immigrants and their descendants. In a series of tweets Trump treated the four legislators as foreigners. They " were originally from countries whose governments constitute a complete and total catastrophe ," wrote the President, and instead of "telling people in the United States … how our government should be led" They " Go back and help repair the totally broken and crime-prone places from which they came ." When reporter Trump recalled that all four women were American citizens and three were born here He replied, "You must love our country." That's a meaningful phrase: In his 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly described immigrants: "We want to take in people, but they must love our country." Now Trump is having the same scary talk US-born offspring of immigrants.
Many Republicans, despite their personal or political concerns about Trump's bigotry, argue that it does not matter. He likes to spew on Latinos, Africans or Muslims from time to time, as they say, but he does not really do anything about it. But Trump has attempted to commit or defend certain acts against naturally born Americans based on their ancestry. In 2015, he proposed a "complete shutdown of Muslims entering the US", regardless of citizenship. Last year, he proposed abolishing birthright citizenship, the constitutional rule that anyone born or ordinated under US jurisdiction in the United States is a citizen. In 2017, he pardoned Joe Arpaio, a former sheriff who opposed a court order to stop the use of ethnic profiles and arrest people in Arizona whom Arpaio suspects are illegally present. Under the Trump Arpaio Rule, you do not have to be an illegal immigrant to be detained. You just have to look like this.
This is not about immigration. It's about separating born Americans by race, ethnicity, and religion.
Trump conducted and published for years an investigation by President Barack Obama, implying that Obama was a Muslim Kenya "and not, as all records showed, a Christian born to an American mother and a Kenyan father in the United States was born. Trump not only questioned whether Obama was born in this country. He hired investigators to search records of Obama's birth and childhood, and he claimed on television that investigators "can not believe what they find" birth certificate, Trump tweeted : "An & # 39; credible source & # 39; called my office and told me the @ BarackObama birth certificate is a scam. " In the 2016 election, Trump called " Hacker " to pursue the question of Obama's birthplace.
In addition to his investigation of Obama, his defense of ethnic profiling, and his attempt to lift his first-degree entitlement, Trump has argued for obvious discrimination against officials. In 2016, he sentenced Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge, who was born in Indiana as the son of legal immigrants from Mexico. Based on Curiel's descent – and the fact that Trump advocated action against Mexican immigration – Trump demanded that the judge deny "himself" the chair of a fraud case against Trump University. Trump summarized his argument as follows: "We're building a wall, he's Mexican." In another interview, Trump argued that Curiel's "Mexican heritage" was an "inherent conflict of interest."
Trump has also proposed the surveillance and punishment of American Muslims. In 2015, he was asked about a hypothetical "database tracking down Muslims here in this country." He replied, "There should be many systems going beyond databases." Later, Trump declared he meant " surveillance, including an observation list . "When asked if he wanted to" register Muslims in a database or give them a special label stating their religion, "he replied," We have a lot to look at things very closely. We have to look at the mosques. "At a rally, Trump said about a hypothetical Muslim register:" The database is fine, and the watchlist is okay, and the surveillance is fine. In an interview with Fox News, he argued that Muslims in the United States, regardless of their nationality, should be collectively punished for the terrorism of other Muslims. "The Muslims are the ones who have to report," said Trump. "And if they do not report it, it must have consequences."
Trump's attacks on Americans of African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American descent who questioned their loyalty, investigated their births, threatened their citizenship, and proposed collective punishment were not about respecting the immigration laws. It's not even about immigration. It's about separating born Americans by race, ethnicity and religion. His denunciation of members of Congress due to the background of their families signals an acceleration of this attack. It could get Trump's white supporters on their toes. On the other hand, many of us who are white or not white and whose parents or grandparents come from other countries may be alarmed and alarmed. We could decide that a racist president is a threat to all of us.
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