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White nationalism and anti-immigrant sentiments have a long and sordid history in America. But the election of Donald Trump and Trump’s immigration policy agenda has breathed new life into these movements, giving nativists newfound access and simpatico allies in the White House, and providing new cover for openly racist actions and comments – both from xenophobes with a national platform and in society as a whole.
On Sunday, leading congressional nativist Rep. Steve King tweeted in praise of the openly racist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, writing, “Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.”
“Somebody else’s babies.” Reflect on that phrase and its implications. Little wonder that David Duke tweeted in response, “GOD BLESS STEVE KING!!!”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice Education Fund:
Let’s stop pretending that what we have is a more conservative version of what previous Presidents have done and said on immigration. Steve King represents his President and his party. The Trump Administration, through the Steve Bannon/Jeff Sessions/Steven Miller trio, are explicit in their goal of trying to Make America White Again. They aim to change the racial and ethnic composition of America by reversing immigration policies instituted in 1965 to reverse decades of racialist exclusions.
The larger anti-immigrant movement and its allied organizations also have newfound clout in Trump’s America. Writing for the Daily Beast, Betsy Woodruff files an important piece titled, “Trump Making ‘Nativist’ Group’s Wish List a Reality,” noting the influence and access of the anti-immigrant organization Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) in shaping the Trump Administration’s immigration vision. As Woodruff writes:
On April 11, 2016, a tiny think tank with a bland name published a 79-point wish list. The list garnered virtually no media coverage, and in the 11 months since its publication has been largely ignored—except, apparently, by the White House. Today, Donald Trump seems to be working through it as he rolls out his immigration policy. A number of the 79 items on the list composed by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), have either been implemented or shown up in leaked draft proposals from the administration. It’s a course of events that has that think tank cautiously exultant and has immigrants’ rights activists anxious and disturbed. CIS is one of the most vocal groups supporting increased detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.
The New Republic also recently highlighted the newfound influence – and shoddy research – of CIS, including its longtime dubious “research” linking immigrants to crime and societal burdens.
Meanwhile, a number of observers are connecting the dots between Trump’s mass deportation immigration policy vision, the Muslim and refugee bans, and the larger white nationalist worldview advanced by such policy proposals:
No surprise, then, that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer felt justified when he told a U.S.-born Indian-American woman named Shree Chauhan, after Chauhan asked Spicer a series of pointed questions during a chance meeting at an Apple store in the Washington area, “It’s such a great country that allows you to be here.”
Evidently, only whites are fully accepted in Trump’s America.