Update: February 20, 1:47 pm

The following two February 20 Donald J. Trump tweets, as reported in the Huffington Post, are the latest examples of his shameless use of anti-immigrant and religious bigotry in support of his presidential campaign:

1) "I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!"

2) "Remember that Marco Rubio is very weak on illegal immigration. South Carolina needs strength as illegals and Syrians pour in. Don't allow it!"

How many Syrians have there been "pouring" into South Carolina or anywhere else in America recently? Trump doesn't tell us.

Update: February 20, 12:20 pm:

For another opinion to the effect that Donald Trump's dispute with Pope Francis is not primarily about religious doctrine or about definition of the word "Christian", but is about the white nativism in America which is at the heart of Trump's appeal. see Anthea Butler: Trump is a fool to mess with Pope Francis. He plays in a higher league, in The Guardian, February 19.

She writes:

"Trump's defense of white Anglo-Saxon Protestantism is gathering those who support him into a strong solidified base...Trump's remarks [against Pope Francis] will galvanize his voters who are white, mostly Protestant and against immigration."


My original comment appears below:

I have no intention of entering into a theological dispute between Pope Francis and Donald Trump over who is a Christian and who is not. For one thing, my background is Jewish, not Christian, and I am not qualified to talk about Christian belief. Even if I had such qualifications, this is a site for discussions about immigration law, not about religion.

But, as writer Jim Wallis comments in the Huffington Post, the real issue raised by Pope Francis' comment that Donald Trump's call for a Wall to keep Mexican and other immigrants of color out of the United States, is not whether such a Wall is consistent with the spirit of Christianity, as the Pope quite reasonably argues that it is not, but what Trump's proposal says about his attitude toward minority immigrants, and what kind of policies we would be likely to see in America toward immigrants of color if Trump is elected president.

Wallis' article can be found at


Quite simply, Wallis states that Trump is "a white nationalist candidate, running and winning on the issue of race". Is this accurate, or fair? Let's look at Wallis' evidence for this blunt statement, as stated in his article:

Wallis writes:

"Trump's demonization of immigrants, in sharp contrast to facts, has changed the conversation on immigration in America, turning it toward bigger walls and against the 'strangers' that those of us who are Christians. are commanded by Jesus to 'welcome'.

Instead, Trump the bully calls for rounding them up, breaking up their families and expelling hard-working and law-abiding people who have lived in America for decades."

Wallis continues:

"Trunp's call to 'completely shut down' all Muslims from entering America is unconstitutional and un-American, as targeting people on the basis of their faith violates violates our foundational principle of religious liberty. Stopping the hateful spread of Islmophobia and racism must become a bipartisan and trans-partisan issue - that's a moral question."

And he concludes:

"The most powerful metaphor for where we are going as a nation is crossing the bridge to a new America. Will we be willing and able to make our way to a genuinely multi-racial and milticultural society, where diversity is ween as a strength rather than as a threat? Or are we headed for a conflictual future of one collision after another, with a resistant and even violent white minority building higher and higher walls?"

What are the implications for America in terms of immigration policy if a president with an openly race-based ideology takes office next year? Will we go back to the eras of the Chinese exclusion laws and Japanese relocation, with Mexicans and Muslims substituted instead? Will we revive the openly racial, "Nordics" only immigration quotas which were in effect from 1924 to 1965?

And what are the larger implications for our democracy if America elects a president who openly uses racial divisions and antagonism to take power? Wallis writes:

"Fear and hatred of 'the other' has created some of the most dangerous movements in human history. Trump positions himself as the 'strong man', the 'winner', and denounces all his opponents as weak and stupid "losers". It's time to name Trump's dangerous rhetoric for what it is. It is not only racist, but also fascist, with all the dangers that ideology implies. The truth is that we have seen this before. And it's time to tell the truth."

It is all too easy to look at words such as "racist" and "fascist" as mere epithets without any meaning except a desire to engage in name-calling. But we should not forget that these terms do have meaning: they are not just insults, but in not so distant memory they have been actual philosophies of government, if one can use that term.

One thinks of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, not to mention fascism in Italy under Mussolini, and, more recently, in Argentina, Pope Francis' native country, as well as the National Socialist regime in Germany.

Could America one day have its own Nuremberg laws, depriving Latinos and Muslims of US citizenship? This is not by any means a far fetched question, in view of the proposals by Trump, and not only Trump, to distort or even change the Constitution in order to deprive million of Latino and other minority US=born children of their birthright citizenship under the 14th Amendment.

As the presidential primary season progresses, we should look at Donald Trump's rhetoric very carefully, rather that going into denial and dismissing it as merely campaign bluster. If Trump wins the presidency, this rhetoric may contain the seeds of America's future immigration policy, a radically different one from the one we are used to now.

Trump's speeches may also signal the end of democracy in America as we know it. Could America one day become a country whose defining symbol, the Statue of Liberty, is replaced by a Wall, such as the one that divided Berlin under communism, or sealed off the Warsaw Ghetto under the Nazis? Could American citizens one day be jailed and tortured for standing up for the rights of immigrants?
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional workers, from many different parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds, obtain work permits, green cards and US citizenship in order to contribute to a diverse, multicultural America.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com