Donald Trump doesn’t understand a lot of things, but right now we are concentrating on what he doesn’t understand about immigration. Historically most immigrants have come from “shithole” countries although which countries these were has changed over time. Even his beloved Norway was once a shithole and although I haven’t checked the stats I would hazard a guess that there was more Norwegian immigration then than there is now. Most of the 19th and 20 century immigration was from what were then “shithole” places. If you think about it people are more likely to leave their homes if the economy of their home countries is poor, there is political or religious oppression, or if natural disasters occur. In other words if their home country is to them a “shithole.” Why would someone leave a prosperous and comfortable life in Norway to move thousands of miles away to the United States. Sure there will be a few Norwegians (or other whites) who feel they can improve their condition by moving, but they are few and far between. Today the “shithole” countries are more likely to be non white and that is the problem.

Secondly those immigrants from “shithole” countries are probably going to be among the hardest workers in the United States. After all they were bold enough to leave their native land to come here to improve their lot in life. As the play Hamilton tells us “immigrants, they get the job done.” They are likely to take the jobs Americans don’t want to do because that may be the only thing open to them. I don’t even have to mention how they add to the cuisine, culture, and diversity of our country.

Trump’s comments are not about how immigration actually works but about some white supremacist fears. White supremacists and even some other whites have stereotyped those who come from “shithole” countries (by which Trump means non white majority countries) as less than whites. In this fantasy world these immigrants are criminals even rapists or murderers, and lay-abouts who sponge off hardworking (again in the fantasy mostly white) Americans through our safety net of entitlement programs. One of the characteristics social scientists have noted about  Trump supporters is that they actually have little experience with those who they denigrate. This leaves them free to project their fears upon immigrants with impunity. Anyone who has actually met someone from these so-called “shithole” countries can tell you that they are likely to be friendly, well educated, and to be willing to work several jobs at low pay.

To impose these fears upon immigration reform measures is to set us up for failure. Any new laws based upon these white supremacy fears is bound to negatively affect immigrants and eventually our country. The people who have received special dispensation to come here after natural disasters or political oppression like the Haitians or the Salvadorans; those who have been carefully vetted in the immigration lottery, and the “dreamers” who came here illegally as children, are much more likely to be hardworking, law abiding citizens than not. There is no reason to fear that these people are detrimental to America. White supremacists however see an America in which they are inevitably becoming a minority not through immigration but through natural growth which sees more non white births and a higher percentage of white deaths through things like the opioid epidemic.

We can hope that Trump and his administration are the last hurrah of these people and that a coalition of anti-racist whites, people of color, and forward thinking voters can turn back this movement.

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