With fewer immigrants, America will be weaker, more divided, and less great.
The White House finally issued its official statement on what it wants in exchange for helping young people who were brought to the United States illegally as children — a list of demands that goes beyond a multibillion-dollar border wall. It’s a sea change in the American immigration debate.
The argument is no longer even superficially about the specter of illegal immigration and its putative challenge to the rule of law. Instead, the debate is now squarely about legal immigration — specifically, Trump’s determination to cut it roughly in half — and his vision is one of a poorer, weaker United States of America that will be more rapidly eclipsed by its rivals on the world stage and less great in almost every way.
In his preferred rhetorical constructs, Trump is putting “America First,” counterposing the interests of natives with those of newcomers. The truth is that this reflects nothing more than Trump’s own longstanding knee-jerk racism paired with Republican leaders’ increasing willingness to pander to this particular form of nativist prejudice.
America has, historically, been a place of refuge for the oppressed. But the possibility of immigration to the United States has never been an act of charity — it’s a strategy for national greatness. There’s a reason that Abraham Lincoln, America’s greatest president, serving at America’s moment of greatest national crisis, signed into law “An Act to Encourage Immigration.”