Politics & Policy


(Reuters photo: Yuri Gripas)

The latest all-consuming Trump controversy is over his remarks in an Oval Office meeting that he doesn’t want people coming here from “sh**hole” countries (although he may have really said “sh**house” countries, for those who are sticklers for accuracy when it comes to presidential vulgarity).

There are many reasons a president shouldn’t say such a thing. It is disparaging to people in the United States who are from these countries. It is insulting to the leaders of those countries, for no good reason. And, inevitably, it will serve to make it even harder to pass a serious restrictionist agenda.

Of course, many of the countries that Trump was talking about — the accounts are fuzzy, but reports suggest he was talking about sub-Saharan nations, and perhaps Haiti — really are basket-cases. One argument from the left for not sending back beneficiaries of so-called Temporary Protected Status to Haiti and El Salvador is that those nations are so terribly dysfunctional and violent.

Trump’s statement came in the context of a discussion of the fate of the visa lottery in a proposed DACA deal. The lottery is one of our worst immigration programs, randomly selecting people to come here who have no connection to the country and then opening up a continuing stream of immigrants behind them through chain migration. The program should simply be abolished. The Gang of Six’s idea, to the contrary, is to re-allocate visas to keep beneficiaries of TPS here and to sprinkle visas among various Third World countries.

This is what set Trump off. He wondered why we instead can’t bring in immigrants from a place like Norway, presumably having that country on his mind after the visit this week by the country’s prime minister. This has been taken as Trump’s admission that he wants white immigrants instead of dark-skinned ones. What he was almost certainly trying to get at, in his typically confused way, is that we’d be better off with immigrants with higher skills.

This is the thrust of his proposed reforms of legal immigration — to put a greater emphasis on skills. If such a system is ever implemented, it will probably shift the composition of our immigration away from Latin America and toward South and East Asia (not the Nordic countries). This would make for a more rational system and one with a more diverse flow of immigrants than under the status quo.

This wouldn’t mean blocking people from sh**hole countries. Obviously, even dysfunctional places have their talented people who could pass muster under a merit-based system, and we should always have a refugee program for people facing persecution in their home countries. We have a long history of people thriving here who’ve come from dirt-poor countries or hideous dictatorships. President Trump would do himself — and the cause of a more rational immigration system — a favor by cleaning up his remarks and straightening out his thinking.


Trump’s ‘Sh**hole’ Comment Doubles Down on Identity Politics

Trump’s Sh**ty Remark

NR Editorial: A Garbage Deal on DACA

— Get insight from the best conservative writers delivered to your inbox; sign up for National Review Online’s newsletters today.


The Editors — The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Broward’s Cowards

It is impossible to imagine circumstances under which Broward County sheriff Scott Israel could attempt to perform his duties with the confidence of the public. He should resign immediately, and if, as he promises, he refuses to go quietly, then he should be shown the door by the people he professes to ... Read More

Courage: The Greatest of Virtues

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Or Listener), As the reporter assigned the job of writing the article about all of Sidney Blumenthal’s friends and supporters told his ... Read More

My American Dream

This morning, at 8 a.m., I did something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember: I became an American. I first applied for a visa in early 2011, and since then I have slowly worked my way through the system — first as a visa-holder, then as a permanent resident (green card), and, finally, as a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

CNN’s Shameful Town Hall

CNN recently hosted an anti-gun town hall featuring a number of grieving children and parents from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., who aimed their ire at the National Rifle Association, politicians peripherally associated with the NRA, and anyone who didn’t say exactly what they wanted to hear. ... Read More

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More