USA’s new immigration laws’ motto – ‘Make America White Again’
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Issue | Date : 23 Nov , 2017

‘Trumpism’ is the new bulwark in contemporary white America meant to stem the flow of ethnic diversity and cultural pluralism and its intentions are clear ; to deliver the United States back to an era between two world wars. There was some hope that Trump would grow into a more statesman like after assuming his Presidency. But the past month effectively revealed the difference between unfounded optimism and an outright delusion. Trump is seen at the sides of Nazi sympathizers, letting off a former sheriff found guilty of racial profiling and declaring his intentions to rescind President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (daca) initiative, imperilling the future of eight hundred thousand people who are Americans in all but the most technical sense of the term. This move is part of a larger vision of immigration known as RAISE (Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy) Act, the true manifestation of ‘Trumpism’. If passed, the legislation would slash legal immigration by fifty per cent.

The real target is to tear down the America created by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which eliminated the racialist immigration quotas set by the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the Johnson-Reed Act. Johnson-Reed was born of familiar concerns to that of Donald Trump; a fear that the nation was endangered by a tide of questionable newcomers and that whites were on the verge of being outnumbered. Those fears that ‘degenerative’ forces were destroying the American way of life formed the basis for the populist resentments that eventually shaped the politics of the era. These were not only black people but also Jews, Catholics and immigrants.”

The 1924 Act had regulated the immigration by allowing only a two-per-cent increase of any given ethnic group’s numbers each year. But, rather than using the most recent census, from 1920, to determine the immigration totals, the act referred to the 1890 census clearly to avoid counting the designated undesirable immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, not to mention from Asia, who had arrived in the United States mostly in the intervening years. The policy was so racist that it earned praise from Adolf Hitler. Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf that “the American Union categorically refuses immigration of unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races, this made the country a leader in preserving racial purity through immigration policy”.

American history is the history of ethnic groups. Immigrants came to America simply to find safe haven from the persecution in home states of Europe. Catholics, Jews, and some Protestants migrated, for example, to avoid religious wars in their respective countries. Others migrated to escape civil and inter-state war, political repression, genocide, ethnic-cleansing, cultural assimilation, and instability, and the object poverty of their homeland. Many other immigrants chose to migrate to the United States as much because it was considered by many as a land of opportunity and abundance. Whatever be their reasons for coming to America, right from the beginning there has been pressure exerted on immigrants to embrace Anglo-American institutions. However, in the case of many groups “melting pot” syndrome, one of complete assimilation and acculturation, could never materialize.

What actually it turned out, was the idea of “Cultural Pluralism” or “Salad Bowl” suggesting that the United States is not only a nation of immigrants, but it is a nation of immigrant groups of varied cultured and Sub-cultures. The notion of cultural pluralism implies that the immigrants in time would become Americanized, but at the same time that they could also retain much that was distinctive and primordial in their own cultural heritage.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 led to the resurgence of in American life and had permeated its social structure. Often this is referred to as the “new ethnicity”. The white European ethnics as well as the Puertoricans, Filipino Americans, Asian Indians, etc., came to share the option that their distinctiveness is no longer a social stigma but a matter of ethnic pride. Cultural pluralism in which they were accorded social recognition, equal access to job, equitable income base, and decent housing, remains the desired goal for many black Americans as evident in the black pride movement of the mid-1960s.

Earlier challenges to cultural pluralism came from those who were proponents of assimilation and Americanisation. This time Trump has challenged this cultural pluralism through changes to the country’s immigration law proposed in the RAISE Act. Though it is a long way before it becomes law and will certainly face resistance in the Congress, both from Democrats as well as from some Republicans.

If one examines the contents of the RAISE Act, it first hits the Green Card which is currently given to more than a million people a year by America. Under the RAISE Act, this number would be cut to just over 500,000 people a year. Trump said that the system would prioritise English speakers, and those who can support themselves and their families financially and demonstrate skills that contribute to the US economy. New holders of green cards would not be eligible for any means-tested federal benefits for five years after arriving.

There would be restrictions on immigrants getting in through family connections. At present, people who have an extended family member living legally in the US are prioritised for green cards. If this set of proposals went through, that preference would be removed.

The diversity immigrant visa programme was started more than two decades ago by order of Congress. It is a way to get in to the US without having the family links or employment prospects required for the other methods. Millions of people applied to this green card lottery, and 50,000 could be successful. Under the proposals of RAISE Act, the programme would be completely scrapped.

The axe has fallen on refugees as well .Former President Barack Obama had pledged before leaving the office that he would admit 110,000 refugees a year. The RAISE Act would cut that number to 50,000 only.

The United States was moving towards a pluralistic society. However, for pluralism to work, there must be an open society in which people with a diversity of backgrounds and characteristics can compete on an equal basis for societal resources. The notion of sharing the societal resources with other ethnicities trouble the supremacists those of whom Trump is seen to be siding with. The Johnson-Reed Act 1924 largely held sway for forty-one years, until, amid the democratizing ethos of the civil-rights era, immigration policy fully shed the racial profiling that had previously defined it. Now Trump seems to be attempting to resurrect racial profiling through his RAISE Act.

In the run up to his Presidential campaign many jeered at his “make America great again” slogan. They called it “make America white again” Now that the Administration’s immigration objectives have come into focus, one thing is clear that those two things meant the same.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Rakesh Kr Sinha

Former DIG and is associate member of Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). Presently Special Advisor to the Chief Minister, Govt of NCT of Delhi.

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2 thoughts on “USA’s new immigration laws’ motto – ‘Make America White Again’

  1. Well 9/11 happened…Mumbai Attack Happened and San Bernardino shooting happened…..Boston marathon attacks…..attack on CIA in Langley VA………done by whom???? Islamic terrorists…….The CIA attack was by Mir Amal Kansi who was captured many years later in Pakistan and put to death in America. This is just inAmerica and Mumbai. What about Paris, UK, Belgium, France and so forth??? All attacks by Muslims……….can you blame Trump for being tough on letting Jihadis come in???? I dont think so. He has said he will allow only skilled INdians in for H1 visa..but he is right in keeping jobs available for local Americans and also for Make in America slogan. India would do the same.
    Too many illegalimmigrants and refugees……seems like USA has lost control on immigration. He is taking back the control. Muslim cab drivers openly ask Indians when getting into Taxis……..You Muslim brother????? if you say no….they ask “So when you going to become Muslim???” Such is the arrogance. Too much freedom given to assholes and they will turn a heaven into the hell they came from. I Dont blame Trump one bit. India actually needs to emulate his actions.

  2. It is their country they can do whatever they want!
    India had dynastic Congress rule for nearly 65 years,what has it achieved but perfecting scams , becoming rich at Tax payer expense and give out quotas for votes!

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