In Trump’s Immigration Remarks, Echoes of a Century-Old Racial Ranking

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The argument was genteel, the tone judicious, the meaning plain: America, wrote the senator leading Congress’s push for immigration reform in 1924, was beginning to “smart under the irritation” of immigrants who “speak a foreign language and live a foreign life.”

The year before, things had been slightly less decorous. A certain unnamed country in Europe was “making the United States a dumping ground for its undesirable nationals,” the president of the American Museum of Natural History, Henry Fairfield Osborn, told a national immigration conference.

Here in the earliest weeks of 2018, the worldview that last gained wide acceptance nearly a century ago has found perhaps its most succinct expression yet — distilled, this time, to a pungent question from President Trump: Why should the United States take in immigrants from “shithole countries” in Africa over people from places like Norway?

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