Excerpts from the chapter: Our Country is Full
“Our nation is a nation of immigrants,” he said. “More than any other country, our strength comes from our own immigrant heritage and our capacity to welcome those from other lands.”
President Ronald Reagan (Mettler, 2018)
In April 2019, President Trump tweeted that our “Country is FULL!” (Phifer, 2019) I imagined the Statue of Liberty holding up a “NO VACANCIES” sign. I envisioned America, from sea to shining sea, being so full that there was no more room for the “tired,” “poor,” or “huddled masses.”
America is a nation of immigrants. More specifically, she is a nation of immigrants and the descendants of immigrants. Without generations of immigrants coming to America from every corner of the globe, even before its independence, there is no melting pot. The melting pot is a key part of the dream that is America. Namely that anyone from anywhere can come to the “land of opportunity” and with hard work and a little luck make a better future for themselves and their future generations.
This is what a poor immigrant named Friedrich Trump did in 1885 when he moved to America to build a better life for himself and his family. More on him later…
“Resuming the argument Tuesday morning, Trump again claimed that ‘Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane,’ but it is not clear where he got that figure, and actual spending is not close to that. A FEMA report said it passed the $3 billion mark in public assistance to Puerto Rico in August.
Ricardo Rossello, the governor of Puerto Rico, admonished Trump over his false claim of $91 billion.
‘Mr. President: STOP spreading misinformation!’ he tweeted. ‘#PuertoRico has not received $91b (only 300M in permanent work). It's not 'us' vs. 'them.' It's about Americans in need.’
Trump invoked Cruz in a series of tweets complaining that Democrats blocked a disaster relief package because it did not contain enough assistance for Puerto Rico.
....the crazed and incompetent Mayor of San Juan have done such a poor job of bringing the Island back to health. 91 Billion Dollars to Puerto Rico, and now the Dems want to give them more, taking dollars away from our Farmers and so many others. Disgraceful!’’’ (Jackson, 2019) (Elfrink, 2019)
Not only are Puerto Ricans Americans, but they are also Americans by birth. Their only problem, as it pertains to President Trump, and throughout history, is that they were born brown. They are an island of brown people, and historically, our nation has embraced a hierarchy of the races that places the brown and black person on the lowest tier.
The same attitude the president expressed in response to the Puerto Rican disaster relief is demonstrated in his immigration policies. The president has repeatedly disparaged brown and black immigrants.
In his article entitled “Donald Trump and a Century-Old Argument About Who's Allowed in America,” Tom Gjelten shares how as far back as the mid-1920s the U.S. tried to tie immigration quotas to a hierarchy of races and not based on great American virtues such as “give me your tired, your poor,…your homeless.” (Gjelten, 2018)
Gjelten said that “U.S. presidents as far back as Harry Truman denounced entry policies based on nationality, calling them discriminatory and un-American.” I found it difficult to pick items from his article to include because they are so relevant to the immigration policies that are being shaped today. As a result, I have included most of the article below:
“President Trump’s reported suggestion that the United States needs fewer immigrants from ‘shithole countries’ and more from those like Norway revives an argument made vigorously a century ago—though in less profane terms—only to be discredited in the decades that followed.
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