America’s Immigration ParadoxHistorians in the News
tags: racism, immigration, book review, Nativism
For historians of immigration, the paradox is inescapable and irreconcilable: The United States is and has always been both a nation of immigrants and a nation that periodically wages war against them.
As candidate and president, Donald J. Trump (whose grandfather, mother and first and third wife were immigrants), with the help of his immigration advisers Stephen Miller (the great-grandson of immigrants) and Jared Kushner (the grandson of Holocaust survivors), has escalated and opened new fronts in this war. On April 19, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported that the Trump administration had deported “thousands of people to their home countries, including some who are sick with the virus,” and that “deportations of children and teenagers who arrived at the border without adult guardians have risen sharply.” The next day the president declared in a late-night tweet that he intended to temporarily suspend immigration. The day after that, he was rebuked by the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which cautioned that such an action would impede economic recovery: “Nearly all … economic evidence shows that immigrants enhance American growth and jobs.”
We do not know the effect of the president’s latest declarations. What we do know is that the war against immigrants will continue. So too the recognition that this is a nation of immigrants and that American prosperity rests, in no small measure, on those immigrants.
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