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Steve King Gives Voice to the White Nationalist Worldview at Heart of Trump’s Immigration Policy Agenda

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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!!!”

Frank Sharry: Steve King Represents His President and His Party

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.

Nationalists and Trump’s America

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.

Trump’s Immigration Policy Agenda is “Ethno-Nationalist Antagonism”

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:

  • In Slate, Jamelle Bouie describes the Trump policy agenda as reflecting “a core of ethno-nationalist antagonism in the service of right-wing populism and white identity politics.”
  • In the Los Angeles Times, Brian Bennett highlights that the Sessions/Bannon/Miller wing is explicit in its stated goals: “Behind President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations and block travel from seven mostly Muslim countries lies a goal that reaches far beyond any immediate terrorism threat: a desire to reshape American demographics for the long term and keep out people who Trump and senior aides believe will not assimilate.”
  • Huffington Post recently highlighted Steve Bannon’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints: “an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail” that is “breathtakingly racist.”
  • In the Washington Post, Paul Waldman writes: “[T]he best way to understand the travel ban is to see it as part of a broader effort on the part of White House, particularly Trump’s key advisers Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to wage an assault on the very idea of American diversity. Bannon has long believed that the white, Christian west is embroiled in a clash of civilizations with Islam. We learned this weekend that he often cites “The Camp of the Saints,” a viciously racist French novel from the 1970s about white Europe being overrun by nonwhite immigrants, to describe what he sees in the world today.”
  • David Nakamura, writing in the Washington Post, highlights: “the underlying aims of Trump and his top aides to more broadly remake U.S. immigration policy to match a nationalist ideology that views large numbers of foreigners as harmful to U.S. society … The ideology underlying Trump’s approach is rooted in the worldviews of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions…”
  • And in a reflection at The Nation, Joan Walsh writes, “The Real Goal of Trump’s Travel Ban Is to Make America White Again,” noting that the revised Muslim ban should be seen as, “reaching beyond narrow definitions of national security to a broader goal—remaking the United States as a white, Christian nation, one that rejects cultures that Trump and his most influential policy advisers deem unlikely to ‘assimilate’ and share our values … it’s part of a much larger plan to fight the demographic forces that threaten Republicans politically and culturally.”

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.