What Does Trump Really Think of Immigration?

A reader of this blog kindly forwarded me a  New York Times article that purports to give the inside scoop on Trump’s views on immigration. Since the NYT admits to a bias in favor of high (unlimited?) levels of immigration, one must take the article with a grain of salt, but I assume that much of it is true. I do wish to comment on this passage, though:

Those who know Mr. Trump say that his attitude toward immigrants long predates his entry into politics.

“He’s always been fearful where other cultures are concerned and always had anxiety about food and safety when he travels,” said Michael D’Antonio, who interviewed him for the biography “The Truth About Trump.” “His objectification and demonization of people who are different has festered for decades.”

Friends say Mr. Trump, a developer turned reality TV star, grew to see immigration as a zero-sum issue: What is good for immigrants is bad for America. In 2014, well before becoming a candidate, he tweeted: “Our government now imports illegal immigrants and deadly diseases. Our leaders are inept.”

The claim of “objectification and demonization” is an editorial comment, so let’s put that aside.  Instead, I wish to make the point that one thing about Trump, whether a fault or a virtue depending on one’s point of view, is that he seems to have little or no willingness to keep any of his thoughts to himself. This must be kept in mind when the people in the article say things like the above. I am quite sensitive to this kind of thing, and have observed exactly the same, if less direct and overt, attitude in virtually everyone I know, especially in academia. It is natural, and the fact that Trump would voice it while others don’t does not mean the others don’t have such feelings.

And though “familiarity breeds contempt” in some cases, as a longtime student of race relations I have found that familiarity can also be part of the solution. Even this unsympathetic article seems to give Trump credit for developing genuine concern for the DACA kids and young adults after meeting some of them, and some of the Latino leaders seem to agree. If they and their allies in Congress would just concede that even Barack Obama expressed doubts about the legality of his (Obama’s) executive order, we might actually have a real dialog on DACA.

But the Times wouldn’t like that, would they?

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7 thoughts on “What Does Trump Really Think of Immigration?

  1. I would take anything from most MSM, especially the NY Times, with a block of salt. Given the multi-year coronation of Barack Obama, and the documented over 92% negative news coverage on Trump, why assume anything?

    I think few people want a real dialog, especially in media and academia. I also am highly suspicious of any comments regarding race given hypersensitivity, liberal educational indoctrination, and poor listening skills (verbal and nonverbal). And today, everyone is a victim except white and Jewish males.

    Have we not seen the reemergence of some medical issues that we had vanquished for decades? Doesn’t it make sense we’d see some issues when we bring in millions of undocumented, unscreened people from third world countries? A few years ago we had cases of whooping cough in Walnut Creek in young children.

    I do believe President Trump has an empathy for lower and middle class Americans and capitalism-based solutions. His unrelenting work has resulted in historic low unemployment levels, including those in the Hispanic and African American communities.

    Things are looking up. Happy Holidays.

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      • It is not just TB. On more than one occasion, DH had the county health department visit his classes due to communicable diseases US children are vaccinated against being brought into the university community by adult students/post docs.

        This is not a new problem. Nearly 40 years ago my then preschoolers were exposed to active TB by children of DH’s colleague. DH’s physician ordered a TB test and chest x-ray annually due to the number and home countries of his students. IMO, this should be an annual requirement for all faculty and staff from infant through the university. The chest x-ray was necessary because some strains of TB were not caught by the skin tests.

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  2. The problem with the public discussions and pronouncements on this topic, like most others, is the use of very broad strokes to label people and groups as “good” or “bad”.

    “What do you think of immigration?” That’s like asking, “What do you think about wind?” or “What do you think about water?” There are many kinds of wind — gentle breezes, gusty surges, tornadoes…. And there are many kinds of water — gentle trickles, flowing rivers, and deadly floods.

    What we should all agree on is the need to have *order* in immigration, just as with these other things. Nobody should want a dangerous storm wind, a raging flood, or a chaotic, uncontrolled surge across the borders. Neither should we have a desire for a motionless air mass or a parched desert.

    The first thing any person should do when asked an overly broad, trigger-happy question like “What do you think of immigration?” is to immediately respond, “What kind of immigration?” Just the same way, one would reasonably respond, “What kind of wind?” or “What kind of water?”

    I see this pattern of rhetorical abuse in other areas — “What do you think of war?” “What do you think of climate change?” “What do you think of taxes?” Good grief, you’d think some journalists never learned what adjectives are!!

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  3. Just an aside on whooping cough (pertussis): It has always been circulating at low levels, often unrecognized, among the population (not just immigrants) due to the imperfect immunity of the childhood vaccine. Better testing (pcr) has lead to more awareness of the issue. It has been added in the last few years to the tetanus/diphtheria booster vaccine that older adults are advised to get, particularly if they are around infants or young children.

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  4. Even given the excellent points about media bias in the above comments, I think that it is still worthwhile to talk about Donald Trump’s personal opinion about immigration. After all he married an immigrant (twice).

    The most likely case is that he holds the common-sense opinion that most immigration pushes down wages. As a successful politician, he recognizes that the average voter thinks that immigration pushes down wages. At the same time, he has undoubtedly been lobbied by rich people who are members of his golf club to approve higher levels of, for example, H1-B visas.

    Despite what you read in the New York Times, Mr. Trump is not an idiot. He probably chose to make immigration a major point in his campaign because it slots nicely into the narrative that the Democratic Party (and the political system in general) is extremely corrupt, and that they routinely ignore the needs of the average American. Also, being the only credible candidate to explicitly oppose high levels of immigration gave him visibility, which was very helpful in the early primaries.

    My assessment is that Donald Trump has mixed feelings about immigration, but that his policy will be to lower it, because he wants to get re-elected. I also think that targeting the Infosys-type H1-B fraud is going to continue, because it is popular, and because there is very little political downside.

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