Give Us Your Tired...

September 5, 2017

WARNING: Political opinions expressed below.

 

When Donald Trump opens his mouth or tweets, he has so many sophomoric and ignoble personal characteristics, it's often difficult to distinguish what matters from what is merely embarrassing. One example of something that matters to many was the announcement last month of his support of an immigration bill proposed by 2 far right-wing Senators, Tom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA).

 

Republicans have historically supported legal immigration, because we have understood the benefit of having an adequate workforce demanded by a growing economy. This workforce need is ever increasing as baby boomers retire. While I know nothing about Senator Perdue, Cotton represents the fear-based, anti-immigration, ultra-nationalistic wing of the Republican party. He's also been a loud and well-known roadblock to meaningful criminal justice/sentencing reform that otherwise has wide bipartisan support in this country. So full disclosure: as a felon and inmate at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, who's seen first hand the destruction done by the mass, long-term incarceration of non-violent drug offenders, I'm not a Cotton fan, at all.

 

Since 1965, our immigration laws have given preferences to families. The bill proposed by Cotton and Perdue creates a point system favoring youth, wealth, ability to speak English, educational attainment, and whether the applicant has a special skill or high paying job. It ignores the fact that almost half the legal immigrants from 2011-2015 had a college degree when they arrived, two-thirds from some countries like Nigeria. It also ignores that families offer immigrants needed support. 

 

The Cotton/Perdue bill's real aim is to drastically cut the total number of green cards issued each year to what they misleadingly call "historical norms" by using an odd cherry-picked "13 year average." History however contradicts their definition of norm. According to The Economist, in the 196 years where data is available, America has issued green cards at the average annual rate of 4,500 per million Americans. In the last 50 years, the annual average has been 2,500 per million Americans. The Cotton/Perdue bill would slash this number to less than 1,550 per million each year. Based on that alone, it's easy to see this is more of an anti-immigration bill.

 

Thankfully, this bill is not law. We can hope that during the August recess, Cotton, Perdue, and Trump took a limo (I don't see them taking the Subway) from Trump Tower, south through Manhattan, then boarded a huge yacht (I don't see them taking the ferry) to Liberty Island. When there, let's hope they read the Emma Lazarus inscription at the base of the Statute of Liberty's pedestal which ends with these words.
     

     Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
     Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift up my lamp beside the golden door.

 

I'm not sure what they've been reading that makes them think this bill is good public policy. 'Mein Kampf' comes to mind.

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones