“Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” This was reported to be President Trump’s response to a bi-partisan immigration plan that was presented to him by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. He was said to be referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations. Trump went on to say that the United States should get more people from countries like Norway, which is 92 percent white. Trump has privately defended his remarks saying he was only expressing what many people think.
According to the Associated Press: “Trump spent Thursday evening making a flurry of calls to friends and outside advisers to judge their reaction to the tempest, said a confidant, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to disclose a private conversation. Trump wasn’t apologetic about his inflammatory remarks and denied he was a racist, instead blaming the media for distorting his meaning,” the confidant said.
A White House statement immediately after the report did not confirm or deny the details: “Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, 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,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. Just recently, the Trump administration revoked temporary protected status for 200,000 Salvadorans and 60,000 Haitians. The immigrants from El Salvador were granted that status because of civil war in that country and the Haitians were granted protected status because of a devastating earthquake.
In December, the New York Times had reported on a White House meeting that had occurred in June about how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017: “Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They ‘all have AIDS,’ Trump grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there. Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never ‘go back to their huts’ in Africa, recalled the two officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary denied that Trump had made derogatory statements about immigrants during the meeting.
The latest controversial remarks were confirmed by Durbin and later Graham told colleagues that the reports were “basically accurate.” Two other senators in the room have disputed the “s***hole countries” remarks. The day after the infamous meeting, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Georgia Sen. David Perdue put out a joint statement saying: “We do not recall the president saying these comments specifically but what he did call out was the imbalance in our current immigration system, which does not protect American workers and our national interest.”
By the Sunday morning news talk shows these two senators had miraculously recovered their memories. Perdue appeared on Meet the Press and Cotton on Face the Nation. Both emphatically denied that Trump had used the reprehensible words. Cotton said: “I certainly didn’t hear what Senator Durbin has said repeatedly.”
Many, if not most, Republicans in Congress seemed to believe Durbin and Graham over Cotton and Perdue. Sen. Jeff Flake said: “The words used by the president, as related to me directly following the meeting by those in attendance, were not ‘tough,’ they were abhorrent and repulsive.”
Haitian-American Republican Representative Mia Love from Utah issued this statement: “The president’s comments are unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. My parents came from one of those countries but proudly took an oath of allegiance to the United States and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with. They never took a thing from our federal government. They worked hard, paid taxes, and rose from nothing to take care of and provide opportunities for their children. They taught their children to do the same. That’s the American Dream. The president must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”
Cotton and Perdue obviously lied in this matter. The question is, why? Were they simply protecting Trump or did they have a more selfish motive? As far as Graham and Durbin knew, Cotton and Perdue were not even supposed to be at the meeting. Neither were a part of the bi-partisan group of senators who created the immigration proposal that was being presented to Trump and which Trump had previously promised to sign. Perhaps they came to sabotage the bi-partisan plan in order to protect their own immigration bill. The two senators are sponsors of an immigration bill known as the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act). Economic experts warn that this bill will hurt the economy and humanitarian groups are opposed because of the damage it will cause for immigrant families and refugees. The RAISE Act would:
• End the Diversity Visa Program which grants 50,000 legal permanent resident visas each year from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration.
• Reduce the number of family-sponsored immigrants. Currently, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor other family members for citizenships, such as adult children, parents, siblings, and fiancé. The bill would retain only two categories for sponsorship: spouses and unmarried minor children.
• Limit U.S. acceptance of refugees. The number of refugees around the world offered U.S. permanent residency would be capped at 50,000.
• Increase the portion of new legal immigrants that are highly skilled.
Cotton claims that the bill would decrease legal immigrants by 39.3 percent in its first year and 48.6 percent in its first decade. His stated goal is to increase wages for lower skilled Americans by reducing the supply of lower-skilled immigrants.
The Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania (Trump’s alma mater) conducted an analysis of the RAISE Act. Their model reduced “legal immigration by 50 percent while increasing the portion of immigrants with at least a college degree to 75 percent.” This was their key findings: “By 2027, our analysis projects that RAISE will reduce GDP by 0.7 percent relative to current law, and reduce jobs by 1.3 million. By 2040, GDP will be about 2 percent lower and jobs will fall by 4.6 million.”
Cotton could not even convince the conservative Cato Institute that his immigration plan would be good for low-skilled American workers. Alex Nowrasteh of that organization wrote: “A recent paper by economists Michael Clemens, Ethan Lewis and Hannah Postel seems tailor-made to test what would happen if a bill like the RAISE Act were to become law. The U.S. government’s 1964 termination of the Bracero program for Mexican farm workers provides a natural experiment for their paper which is comparable to what would happen if RAISE becomes law. Senators Cotton and Perdue will be disappointed to discover that this new research found that ending lower-skilled migration for farm workers had little measurable effect on the labor market for Americans who worked in those occupations. Instead of hiring more American workers or raising their wages, farmers turned to machines and altered the crops they planted to take account of the new dearth of workers…The Bracero program allowed in half a million workers a year before it was eliminated which is about the same number of green cards that RAISE would cut. Senators Cotton and Perdue may intend to raise the wages of lower-skilled Americans, but their bill is more likely to line the coffers of firms that manufacture machines that can substitute for them.”
The chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said this about the RAISE Act: “I express strong opposition to the RAISE Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue. Had this discriminatory legislation been in place generations ago, many of the very people who built and defended this nation would have been excluded.”
One of those who probably would have been excluded was Donald Trump’s grandfather, Fredrick, who came here from Germany at the age of 16. At one point, Fredrick attempted to return to Germany with his wife, but he was not allowed to stay because he was considered a draft-dodger. Upon his return to America, he eventually became successful in several business endeavors including real estate, hotels, restaurants and prostitution.
During the early 1900s, people of German descent were often unpopular with other Americans mainly because of World War I and World War II. Donald Trump’s father, Fred, decided it would be better for business if the family were not from Germany.
To avoid the stigma of being an immigrant from Germany, he created the myth that his family originated in Sweden. A myth that Donald Trump continued to spread in his book, The Art of the Deal and even in his father’s obituary in 1999 in the New York Daily News: “Fred C. Trump was born in 1905 to a Swedish immigrant father.”