While in a private briefing, pondering the fates of African immigrants caught in the legal limbo of the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, President Trump asked why does the United States want “all these people from s***thole countries?”
Immigration cannot be divorced from race. How our nation’s leaders navigate new racial conversations dictates who is admitted and accepted as a part of the country.
The President’s words matter because of what they reveal about not only how he views the world, but by extension, as our leader, how our country views the world.
Many outside of our nation may wonder: if the President views a country as a “s***hole,” how redeemable are the migrants who come from them?
This expression crudely, yet succinctly reflects his administration’s desire to create a points-based immigration system. A policy decision directly influenced by anti-immigrant hate groups such as Numbers USA, FAIR and CIS.
But as analysts have shown, a points system would prioritize the immigration of wealthy, English speakers from Western countries – not “s***holes.”
But are these valued characteristics: wealth, education, and English comprehension, proven indicators that immigrants will succeed and contribute to the nation any better than immigrants from other parts of the world? Immigrants are already a net economic positive.
And it remains to be seen whether switching to a points system would grow the pie any more.
With economics aside, what remains is the clear cultural implications. English comprehension is central to any anecdotal discussion about relating to immigrants – among White Americans.
But any authentic recounting of American history will acknowledge languages have always intermingled in the United States, from German to Spanish to Arabic.
Our nation’s restless history of incorporating the traditions and cultures of the people who come here is long-standing, and should not be abandoned because of poorly-articulated fears about “s***hole” countries.