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Trump's "Extreme Vetting" Destroys American Values, Recalls 1924 Act. Roger Algase

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The following is Part 1 of my comments about Turmp's August 15 "terrorism" speech which, for the reasons outlined in this series, should more accurately be called his "fear-mongering and immigrant scapegoating speech".

On August 15, Donald Trump tried to revive his flagging campaign, which the New York Times had described as being in deep trouble, causing Trump to lash out with threats to abolish the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press. See my August 15 Immigration Daily blog: Legal Scholars Blast Trump In NY Times; Trump Hopes Paper Will Close:

In order to try to bring his campaign back to life, Trump went back to using what can only be described as his Trump card - stoking fears of terrorist attacks on America and demonizing Muslim immigrants. The full text of his speech can be found at

Trump began his speech with a recitation of ISIS instigated or otherwise Islamic terrorist linked- linked horrors and atrocities perpetrated in America and Europe. These, unfortunately have not been in short supply.

However, Trump did not mention the many other ISIS attacks, also outside the "war zones of the Middle East (i.e. Syria, Iraq, Libya and, arguably, Afghanistan), referred to in his speech, attacks which have targeted hundreds, if not thousands, of peaceful, innocent Muslim civilians in places such as Istanbul, Bangladesh, and Indonesia; and which have, together with the Putin-backed Syrian dictatorship, been a major cause of the attempt by four million Syrian refugees to seek safety in Europe.

Then, after opening with this appeal to fear, and even before turning to any of his proposals to defeat ISIS militarily (which few Americans would disagree needs to be done urgently), Trump immediately turn his verbal guns - not on ISIS' weapons and capacity to organize terror attacks, but on the "hateful ideology of Radical Islam - its oppression of women, gays, children, non-believers" which, he stated, must not "be allowed to reside or spread within our own countries."

(All bold quotes are taken directly from Trump's speech, as published in the above POLITICO link )

Therefore, according to Trump, the terrorist enemy must not only be defeated militarily, but ideologically as well. There is, in principle, nothing wrong with this statement. America defeated both fascism and communism by combating their ideologies, not just opposing their weapons (even though, of course, America suffered a crushing defeat in 1975 in our last military conflict with a communist nation).

But there are two problems with Trump's statement so far. The first is one of massive hypocrisy. Trump talks about "oppression of women [and] gays' as constituting a danger to America's safety.

As Trump himself has reportedly recently said in a different context: "Give us a break!"

Maybe someone should remind him that he is the presidential standard bearer of a party that for has been bitterly fighting against women's abortion and other reproductive rights for many many years and is still doing so.

His party also consistently votes against women's equal pay laws at every possible opportunity, and Trump's own comments during this campaign against various women have been so offensive that, arguably even many people who have been brought up in some societies which have a long way to go in respecting women's rights migt find them shocking.

And as for oppression of gays, Trump might want to have a chat with his own Vice-Presidential pick, Gov. Mike Pence, who recently signed a law in Indiana allowing private businesses to discriminate against gays on "religious" grounds, and eventually had it repealed only after nationwide outrage threatened to tarnish the image of his state and hurt its businesses (link to be provided).

He might also want to have a friendly discussion with Republican officials in North Carolina, who have been fighting a last ditch legal battle to uphold that state's bigoted transgender "bathroom" law (link also to be provided).

As will be shown in Part 2 of these comment, Trump's proposed "extreme vetting" ideological test for immigrants seeking admission to the United States, could result in denying visas to people from various parts of the world (including Europe, which is obviously not the intended target of Trump's proposal), merely because they might happen to believe in essential parts of Trump's own Republican party platform!

However, as will be discussed in more detail in Part 2, the main danger in Trump's proposal to deny admission to immigrants based on ideology is that it opens the door to excluding immigrants from entire countries or parts of the world where religion or social customs may have features that are perceived to be incompatible with "American Values" whether or not the individual applicant for admission in fact subscribes to such beliefs.

This would take America back to the days of the bigoted Immigration Act of 1924, when immigrants from entire parts of the world, Including Southern and Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and all of Asia, were presumed to be incapable of adopting "American Values" or assimilating to "American culture".

In addition to targeted nationalities and regions of the world, entire ethnic or religious groups, notably Jews, were considered at that time to be incapable of becoming fully American, as well as being allegedly dangerous to America because of their presumed ideology.

Part 2 of these comments will show the very disturbing similarities between Trump's proposed ideological test for immigrants seeking admission to the US, outlined in his above August 15 speech, in the asserted interests of protecting America against radical Islamist terror, and the infamous "national origins" immigration quotas of the 1924 law, which were also adopted in the wake of a fear campaign known to history as the "Red Scare"​.

To be continued.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvad Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from various parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is

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Updated 08-16-2016 at 09:50 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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