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Are Donald Trump's Anti-Mexican Tirades Actually Helping Immigration? By Roger Algase

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Update - July 13, 8:00 am:

While Donald Trump continued his tirades against Mexican immigrants with a speech in Phoenix on July 11 before a cheering crowd of several thousand people in a joint appearance with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who has become infamous for locking up Latino immigrants in desert tents, who has allegedly done more than any other single individual to make "racial profiling" a household phrase, and who, along with Trump, refuses to accept that America's first African-American President, Barack Obama, was born in the United States, some others in their party are calling for an end to using anti-Hispanic hate as a foundation for immigration policy.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a member of the bipartisan Senate"Gang of Eight" which drafted the long forgotten S 744 Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, way back in 2013 (almost as long ago as the Magna Carta which Justice Scalia invoked only one month ago (!) as authority for upholding denial of an immigrant visa without explanation to the Afghan husband of a US citizen in Kerry v. Din), has called Trump's attacks on Mexicans a "Wrecking Ball" for their party.


Graham said, referring to Trump's speeches:

"If we don't reject this way of thinking - clearly, without any ambiguity - we'll have lost our way, [and] we'll have lost our moral authority, in my view, to govern this great nation."

In a democracy, our laws, including our immigration laws, are an expression of the will of the people. But are lawmakers merely passive agents who blindly reflect the passions and prejudices of their constituents? Or do they have a moral responsibility to try to shape public opinion and lead their constituents in a direction which is in the best interests of the nation as a whole and most consistent with its ideals and values?

This is a question which is at least as old as the time of Plato and Aristotle. We are seeing it in action now in the context of deciding which direction to take in shaping our immigration laws and policies. Donald Trump is on one side of this philosophical debate, and Senator Graham is on the other.

For much of America's history, our immigration laws have been reflections of popular prejudice against targeted nationalities or ethnic groups, beginning with the 1880's Chinese exclusion laws on which many aspects of today's immigration law doctrines, including "plenary" Congressional and executive power over immigration to the exclusion of the courts (see Kerry v. Din, supra,) and even green cards themselves, are still based.

Immigration law as an expression of bigotry toward Asians continued into the early 20th century and was expanded to include Italians, Jews. Eastern Europeans, Middle Easterners and most other "non-Nordic" immigrants in the 1924 Immigration Act, which was not abolished until 1965.

Even 30 years of relative tolerance for immigrants from all over the world was too much for much of the American public and their elected representatives, leading, as a "backlash", to the passage of IIRIRA in 1996, which was intended (indirectly, rather than directly through restrictive "national origin" immigration quotas as in 1924) to roll back some of the 1965 reforms.

Since then, there have been many other proposals in Congress to restrict immigration even further. Donald Trump is in a very long tradition, beginning with the anti-Irish Know-Nothings in the 1850's, and continuing through his speech in Phoenix on July 11, 2015.

Is it not time for a new paradigm, a new approach toward immigration, based on respect for the basic dignity of all people and for fundamental human rights, instead of appeals to hatred and prejudice against whichever ethnic group happens to be unpopular with some of the public at any given time?

We all live on one small planet; we are all members of the same human race. Certainly, America does not have room for the entire world - we have to have some restrictions on immigration in order to survive as a society and a nation.

But basing these restrictions on recognition of our common humanity instead of narrow prejudice and xenophobia will, hopefully, one day soon "trump" Trump's attempt to demonize Mexican immigrants as "rapists".

My (slightly revised) original post appears below:

Donald Trump's vicious attacks on Mexican immigrants as "criminals" and "rapists" have caused a tremendous outcry of protest and anger, especially among media, other businesses and politicians who are not blind to the reality of America's diverse, multi-ethnic, 21st century society. They have also outraged people of goodwill from every background throughout America.

Trump's attacks, it is important to note, are not merely against illegal Mexican immigrants. When he says that Mexico is "not sending its best" people to America, he does not distinguish between those who are here without authorization and those who are in this country legally.

And yes, there are legal Mexican immigrants in the US - millions of them. A 2012 The Atlantic article, The Rise of Legal Immigration From Mexico, estimates that half of all Mexican immigrants in the US are here legally - with H visas, student visas, E-2 NAFTA visas, and, yes, EB-5 investor visas, (not to mention the millions of Mexican citizens who have legal green cards through family relationships or other sponsorship). See:

Trump's comments, therefore, are not only, or even primarily, concerned with how our immigration laws should be enforced: his proposal is to build a wall to keep all Mexicans out, regardless of immigration status. For him, Mexico is a country that produces, or at least exports, bad people - period. This is not the language of immigration law enforcement - it is the language of hate.

Donald Trump is not the first famous and successful tycoon in American history to take an interest in spreading hate against a particular group. In the 1920's, Henry Ford published his notorious four-volume work: The International Jew.

The work became so popular among anti-Semites that (according to Wikipedia) Adolf Hitler owned a well-thumbed copy, and one of the defendants at the Nuremberg War Crimes trial, Baldur von Schirach, testified that Ford's book had influenced him in his youth. There can be no doubt that Ford's book helped to stoke anti-Semitic feelings in the United States.

This unquestionably played a role in the restrictive immigration policies of the Roosevelt administration during the 1930's which allowed only a small fraction of the desperate European Jews trying to escape Hitler's concentration camps and gas chambers to find refuge in the United States.

Donald Trump, it can be argued, has not yet reached the level of influence in spreading hate that Henry Ford did. Trump has not written any book with the title: The Mexican Rapist, and the Mexican people are in no danger of extermination or genocide.

But once the genie of hatred is out of the bottle, it is hard to put it back in, and Trump's influence is unlikely to be limited to issues of border security or laws dealing with criminal immigration. To the contrary, he is undoubtedly fueling opposition to immigration across the entire spectrum of this system, both illegal and legal. Not only opponents of legalization for unauthorized immigrants, but politicians and organizations which want to reduce legal immigration, including family unification and skilled worker visas, are likely to take fresh encouragement from his anti-immigrant invective.

It is not a very big step to go from Trump's stigmatizing of Mexican and other Latino immigrants as "criminals" and "rapists" to smearing Indian and Chinese H-1B IT professionals as "job-stealers" who are "lowering the wages" of American workers, as Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) and their supporters are now doing.

There can be little doubt that Trump's attacks on Mexican immigrants will also give renewed impetus to those who want to do away with our Constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship for all American-born children.

But in a perverse way, Trump's attacks against Mexicans, and by extension all Latinos and other non-white immigrants, may actually wind up helping the cause of immigration. They are doing a great deal to strip away the veneer of respectability from the entire anti-immigrant movement, which has become adept at trying to hide racial animosities behind the masks of "respect for enforcing the immigration laws", "protecting American jobs", "border security" and "combating terrorism".

Trump has now brought bigotry, pure and simple, as a main, if not the main, impetus for opposition to immigration in America out into the open. Will this lead the American public, our legislators, and our opinion-makers, to move beyond hate and prejudice and create a fair and more welcoming immigration system that is better suited to America's identity, values and needs in the 21st century?

If this happens, Donald Trump may have done a real service to the cause of immigration in America.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School who has been helping professional and skilled workers, as well as other immigrants, obtain employment visas, green cards, and US citizenship for more than 30 years. His practice is primarily focused on H-1B, O-1 and L-1 work visas, J-1 training visas, and green cards through Labor Certification, extraordinary ability and opposite sex or same sex marriage.

Roger's email address is

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Updated 07-13-2015 at 07:00 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Sacolargo's Avatar
    The issue here is not Mr. Trump per se, instead those who pay attention to his campaign are the useful idiots making of the upcoming presidential another reality show. In the end, Donald Trump is just advertising himself and his ventures, so when the time comes to withdraw his nomination from the Presidential run, he will have a significant amount of new consumers for the Trump brand.
  2. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    I know of one person who likes Trump's immigration views, Ann Coulter. She said on a radio show recently that Trump got his immigration views from her book, "Adios, America!" It's an interesting book if you believe, as I do, that you can't respond effectively to Republican immigration views without taking the time to understand them first. I have only read 80 or so pages so far, but that's enough to know that it's the real deal. She is faithfully spelling out the reasons why some people are upset about the flow of immigrants into the United States. She is not an immigration expert, but she appears to have spent a lot of time studying the subject and she writes passionately about it. She says on page 9, for instance that the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) was ended because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards. That initiative was a fiscal and security disaster. If you are curious, see my article, "What is SBInet? And what does it have to do with spending billions of dollars on border security?" (July 25, 2013),

    So far, I just agree with Coulter on one point. She says that anyone speaking out against pro-immigration views is likely to be called a racist or a bigot. Roger's comments on Trump illustrate that point. I would be very surprised if it turned out that Trump cares enough about immigration to be a racist or a bigot. He is running for office, and, as is the case with the other candidates, his comments will be calculated to gather supporters. And in fact, it is working. In any case, demonizing the republicans that way is not going to encourage them to cooperate with us on immigration reform.
  3. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    Nolan is fond of repeating the mantra that I like to "demonize" the Republicans. If he had really read my post, he would have seen that i expressed a good deal of support and praise for Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was a Republican the last time I checked, and who has expressed great concern about his party's being led off the cliff of anti-Latino bigotry by Trump and his supporters.

    It is true that some Republican leaders do not have enough guts to speak out against Trump, because they are scared of offending the GOP's white anti-immigrant base. Other Republicans, such as Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), openly support Trump. Shame on them.

    I am not against Republicans; I am against bigots in either party, including Ann Coulter, who is just as bigoted against Latinos as Trump is.

    What is the point of making excuses for Trump? He has said, not once but repeatedly, that Mexican immigrants are criminals and racists.

    Refusing to admit that this is the language of prejudice and hate is simply incomprehensible. Suppose that Trump had said instead that immigrants from Israel, Italy or Ireland are criminals and rapists?

    Would there not be a huge storm of protest? Would Americans of Jewish, Italian or Irish descent, and their friends and supporters, be so eager to dismiss him as just a clown or buffoon?

    Would anyone show an interest in studying Ann Coulter's writings if she were claiming that Jews or Catholics were a danger to America and should be barred from coming in or kicked out of the country, instead of Hispanics?

    A leading Israeli newspaper has in fact accused Coulter of being anti-Semitic.

    It is not so long since hatred of Jews and Catholics was just as common in America as hatred of Hispanics is now.

    Has Nolan never heard of anti-Semitic propagandists such as Gerald L. K. Smith, Father Coughlin and Henry Ford? They were the Ann Coulters and Donald Trumps of their time. What about Patrick J. Buchanan, who has called for an end to prosecuting Nazi war criminals because of their "service" in Hitler's concentration camps even was he has warned about the Hispanic "threat" to America? There we can see an example of anti-Semitic and anti-Latino sentiment coming from one and the same public figure.

    The language and spirit of hate against immigrant minorities have been the same the same since the time of the Know-Nothings more than 150 years ago. Only the targets have changed.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 07-14-2015 at 07:37 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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