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EDITORIAL: Fear won’t improve immigration policy



People from all nations are valuable. The Editorial Board finds it maddening that we live in a time where its necessary for us not only to say this but to defend the ethos behind it.

In a Jan. 11 meeting to discuss, in the wake of DACA’s rescindment, a bipartisan motion to give legal status to the children of illegal immigrants, President Trump expressed his frustration with the plan by demanding justification for the inclusion of “shithole countries” like Haiti and unspecified African nations rather than privileged countries like Norway.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah wrote in a statement that “President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.” 

Rather than mitigate the damage of the comment — a task that would have been impossible anyway — the White House statement only further clarifies Trump’s belief that immigrants from nations of which he disapproves are not capable, or at least not as capable, of contributing to American society. 

While the implications of this remark may be clear, the consequences remain predictably uncertain. Trump has made all manner of racist, unacceptable comments throughout his political career that never derailed it in the way they should have. 

As you might remember, this is not even the first time Trump has insulted Haiti. In a June 2017 meeting about the demographics of immigrants who were granted American visas, he infamously claimed of Haitians that they “all have AIDS.” 

The Editorial Board has no confidence that Trump’s latest outrageous outburst will dethrone him. Supporters likely share his fear of the consequences current Americans could face if prospective immigrants are not sufficiently screened.

Plausible, too, is the notion that trends of nationalism which Trump both encourages and is influenced by are turning patriotic pride into an elitist attitude that only the world’s best may compete for the privilege of living on American soil. 

The issue with this combination of fear and pride is that it eclipses both common sense and belief in the common good.

With common sense, we can recognize that evil has no nation of origin. Applying this truth to the supposedly meritocratic immigration policies Trump desires, we are forced to acknowledge that a truly meritocratic system would not discount applicants for wrongs they did not commit or stereotypes that obscure their true natures as individuals.

With an eye for the common good, we see that on a basic human level, policies that cause undue harm to some cause subsequent harm to all, because they create an unjust system that inhibits our growth as a society. 

The Editorial Board does not endorse the idea that immigrants should be welcomed on the basis of the profits they are likely to create, but we invite President Trump and those who share his views to consider that even on their own meritocratic terms, execution of immigration policies according to the “shithole countries” attitude will squander otherwise viable opportunities. 

What if the children and families these policies fail to protect were on track to become the very kinds of contributing citizens you claim to seek? What if their displacement costs America the economic growth these policies claim to promote?  

Even when we are concerned for the future of our country, we cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by fear and the biases it breeds. We cannot look at a country and decide to write it off as a shithole.

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