The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump Immigration Plan Does a Terrible Job of ‘Making America White Again’

The Left’s reaction to the White House immigration framework has been nothing less than deranged, with the screeching about racism dialed up to 11. Some examples:

Nancy Pelosi: “part of the Trump Administration’s unmistakable campaign to make America white again”

Think Progress: “Trump has proposed the most racist immigration policy since the KKK wrote our laws”

Salon: “Trump’s ‘chain migration’ obsession: The Nazis thought of it first”

Jennifer Rubin: “How to fight Trump’s plan to whiten our immigration system”

Elizabeth Guzman, Spanish SOTU response: “President Trump presented his plan which will fundamentally change the character of our country”

Quartz: “Trump’s latest plan would make immigrants whiter”

This rhetoric assumes de facto racial quotas in the immigration flow – not only must immigration always go up and never go down, but the share that is white must never go up and the non-white share must never go down.

Now, the very consideration of such questions is repugnant. Immigrants, like the rest of us, should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. The only good thing about the 1965 law that inadvertently launched the current immigration wave is that it dispensed with the national-origin quotas that Congress had used in the 1920s to limit immigration (instead of, you know, just limiting immigration).

The Quartz article referenced above draws on an analysis by Michael Clemens, an anti-borders crusader at the Center for Global Development, who’s whipped up some numerical estimates to try to back up all this hyperventilation. Clemens actually analyzed the Goodlatte bill, not Trump’s proposal; that means he didn’t account for the fact that the White House version would grandfather all 4 million people on the chain-migration waiting lists before ending the categories, as my colleague Jessica Vaughan pointed out yesterday on the home page. He also assumes that the immigration of parents of U.S. citizens would be reduced to zero when most proposals, including the Goodlatte bill, create a renewable nonimmigrant visa for parents of citizens, meaning their immigration would continue, just not with green cards. (Clemens also claims to have included only adult immigrants, but erroneously included many children.)

All that said, what did Clemens find? Using a 15-year-old survey to estimate ethnic and religious shares, he trumpets the estimated percentage reduction by ethnic group under the Goodlatte bill, showing that Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, and Catholics would see the largest declines in the annual number of immigrants. (Whites, Asians, Hindus, and Jews would see the smallest declines.)

Obviously, if Hispanic immigrants dominate certain categories, elimination of those categories will reduce the number of Hispanic immigrants more. Pointing and sputtering about this is essentially applying “disparate impact” analysis to immigration, as though different ethnic groups (as defined by our stilted and absurd race laws) are entitled to a certain share of the immigration flow.

But what would be the actual impact of these changes on the makeup of the flow? In other words, if the White House immigration framework is going “make America white again” there should a huge change in the share of new immigrants who are white, right? Clemens doesn’t report the numbers, but they’re easy enough to calculate from what he provides. This is what you get:

The share of non-Hispanic whites in the projected new flow goes up (because white immigrants are more likely to come in on the employment categories than the family chain migration ones), but the difference really isn’t that big. Asians and Hispanics would still account for the majority of new immigrants, but a slightly smaller majority. (He also doesn’t tell you that immigrants with a college degree would go from 28 percent of the annual total to 43 percent.) If this is how President Literally Hitler is going to “make America white again,” he’s doing it wrong.

Again, I find this whole analysis distasteful. But when the once and future Speaker of the House and her confederates in the media and elsewhere retail a bald-faced lie, they need to be called out.

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