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Trump's Latest Muslim Ban Order is Only One Part of His Ongoing Attempt to Bring Back America's White Supremacist Immigration Legacy. Roger Algase

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The following will expand on my October 5 ilw.com post dealing with Trump's attempt to bring back America's long history of bigotry and discrimination against non-white immigrants in our legal system. This comment will discuss this issue mainly from the standpoint of the Muslim ban executive orders, based on a thorough and perceptive analysis of US immigration law history by Christopher Petrella, lecturer in cultural studies at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.

This article, entitled:

Trump's travel ban is firmly rooted in our history of racist immigration policies

was published on January 30, right after Trump's first Muslim Ban executive order. His subsequent Muslim ban orders, including his most recent one, now blocked nationwide by federal district judges in both Hawaii and Maryland, and which has, almost in the spirit of farce, entirely abandoned the "terror sponsorship" pretext for his two previous orders by adding countries which were never on any terror sponsorship list (including Chad, one of Americas best allies in fighting against terrorism in Africa), as well as many other immigration-related developments, make this article even more relevant and timely than it was when it appeared almost ten months ago.

The link is:

https://bangordailynews.com/2017/01/...tion-policies/

Petrella begins with the following summary of his article's content:

"While many of us are outraged over Trump's executive order - one indisputably tethered to white nationalism and Islamophobia - it is worth remembering that the president's actions do not constitute an aberration in America's immigration history."

Petrella continues:

"On the contrary, racial, national origin and religious immigration quota systems have long been integral to America's approach to regulating the freedom, movements and rights of non-white people and bodies. Such laws have been aimed at protecting the religious and racial purity of whatever is indexed in a given moment as best representing the most undefiled form of American nationalism.

The author, after briefly referring to two earlier examples of racially motivated immigration legislation - the Naturalization Act of 1790 and the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, proceeds to discuss the racial ideology which formed the basis of the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924:

"The history of U.S. immigration law is squarely based in the ideology of racialized nationalism. In 1920, Harry Laughlin, an eminent eugenicist...testified to the U.S. House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization that 'the character of a nation is determined primarily by its racial qualities.'...The Immigration Act of 1924 was established for the express purpose of limiting the influx of 'dangerous' and dysgenic' Italians, Arabs, eastern European Jews, Asians, and other not-fully-white 'social inadequates.'"

Petrella then squarely connects this shameful history of legal racial discrimination in our immigration system with the Trump administration by pointing out an obvious link - which I have written about in many previous ilw.com comments, but which all but a few other commentators have passed over (at least so far as I have seen):

The Immigration Act of 1924 - a piece of legislation recently praised by Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for U.S. Attorney General, dramatically limited the number of immigrants allowed entry into the United States..."

The RAISE Act, which both Trump and Attorney General Sessions now support so vigorously, unquestionably has the same purpose.

Petrella then points out the openly racist character of the 1924 act:

"At the urging of [Madison] Grant [another prominent racial eugenicist of the period] and others, the act did not include any provision whatsoever for immigrants from Asian countries."

Petrella then concludes:

"The omission of race-based, national origin and religiously motivated immigration policy history from mainstream discourse leaves us with the false impression [given by] present debates over the so-called exceptional nature of Trump's travel ban from several Muslim nations [that it] has very few precedents in the United States, when in fact there are many in the not so distant past."

And, near the end of his article, Petrella writes:

"To responsibly address our relationship to the past - and to eschew the same white supremacist and xenophobic mistakes - contemporary debates about Trump's ban must remind us that we have been down this road before, to disastrous ends."

In the nearly nine months since the above article was written, America has seen not only two more versions of the Muslim ban, which numerous federal district and circuit judges have struck down again and again, and which awaits an uncertain fate in the Supreme Court, but many other administration policies which are obviously intended to reduce immigration from non-white parts of the world.

These include the president's support for the RAISE Act and his open attacks on "Chain Migration" (i.e. family-based green card sponsorship from Latin America and other non-European parts of the world); his assault against primarily Asian H-1B and other skilled immigration through policies such as his "Hire American" executive order and the latest USCIS policy requiring personal interviews in all employment-based adjustment of status cases; his "extreme vetting" for even the most routine visa applications; his drastic reductions in refugee admissions, attempts to make asylum more difficult, expanded use of expedited removal and dramatic increase in arrests and incarceration of non-criminal immigrants; cancelling DACA, albeit with some lip service toward support for continuing that program through legislation - if Congress agrees to pass a law to help DREAMERS that would include draconian anti-immigrant proposals which Trump is insisting must be included - the list could go on and on.

This is without even mentioning Trump's ongoing rhetorical attempts to stir up hatred and fear toward racial and religious minorities by stigmatizing Latino immigrants as "M-13 gang members", his demonizing all Muslims throughout the world as "radical Islamic terrorists"; and last but not least, his attempt to degrade and humiliate, not only Latin American, but by extension all non-white immigrants, by building his centerpiece Mexican Border Wall, in the same tradition as, though obviously for a less sinister purpose than, those of the Communist Berlin Wall and the Nazis' Warsaw Ghetto Wall.

As Petrella states in his article's final sentence:

"Rejecting and resisting the idea of a Muslim ban must be one of the many steps in denaturalizing the linkage between whiteness and Americanness, between the history of racial, national and religious exclusion and the full flourishing of U.S. democracy."


One could, with ample justification, make the same statement, not only about Trump's Muslim ban, but also about the rest of his entire anti-immigrant agenda, almost without exception.
_________________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice is primarily concentrated in H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary work visas, J-1 training visas, and green cards through Labor Certification (PERM) and through opposite sex or same sex marriage and other family relationships. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 10-22-2017 at 12:38 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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