One of the favorite excuses that immigration opponents use for wanting to limit immigration is that immigrants in general, or immigrants from certain (usually non-white) parts of the world, do not share American "values" or "culture".

One of the most restrictive pieces of immigration legislation ever to pass one of the two houses of Congress in recent times, H.R. 4437, which passed the Republican-controlled House in 2005, stated in its preamble that "cultural" factors were one of the motives for writing the bill. The meaning, of course, that America need to protect itself against the "culture" of Latino immigrants.

The proponents of the bill would have been far more honest if they had written "color" instead of "culture".

Other immigration restrictionists are fond of pointing to reports about horrendous incidents or practices in various parts of the world (which often, by some coincidence or other, just happen to take be Muslim countries) such as child marriage, honor killings, etc,, as "evidence" that most or all immigrants from these countries are backward or barbaric, and therefore opposed to American values or incapable of adopting them.

But this hoary excuse for anti-immigrant bigotry based on race or religion has been around ever since the time of the anti-Irish Know Nothings, the anti-Asian racists who gave America the Chinese exclusion laws, or the anti-Semites who sought to keep out Jews in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The implicit, or frequently overt, assumption (as long maintained by writers such as Ann Coulter, Patrick Buchanan and the late Samuel Huntington, among others), is that only Americans of white European ancestry are qualified to define what American "values" and "culture" really are.

No Muslims need apply. Nor need any Latinos, Africans or Asians. But there is another view of what American "values" and "culture" are - a view based on ideals and principles, not race, skin color or religion.

This is the viewpoint that has lead 1,900 students, alumni and faculty of the Wharton School of Finance, which, according to the Huffington Post, Donald Trump did not attend but has been creating a misleading impression that he did, to issue a blistering open letter stating that as immigrants, children of immigrants, and/or members of other minority groups which Trump has attacked and demonized, they are the true upholders of American values which Trump is seeking to destroy.

Here are somw quotes from the letter:

We, proud students, alumni and faculty of Wharton, are outraged that an affiliation with our school is being used to legitimize prejudice and intolerance. Although we do not aim to make any political endorsments with this letter, we do express our unequivocal stance against the xenophobia, sexism, racism and other forms of bigotry that you [Donald Trump] have actively and implicitly endorsed in your campaign.

The Wharton community is a diverse community. We are immigrants and children of immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, women, people living with orcaring for those who have disabilities, and members of the LBGTQ community. In other words, we represent the groups you have repeatedly denigrated, as well as their steadfast firendx, family and allies."

The letter concludes:

"We, the undersigned Wharton students, alumni and faculty, unequivocally reject the use of your education at Wharton as a platform for promoting prejudice and intolerance. Your discriminatory statements are incompatible with the values that we are taught and we teach at Wharton and we express our unwavering commitment to an open and inclusive American society."

Which represents American values more? the "commitment to an open and inclusive American society contained in the last sentence of this letter, signed by what are undoubtedly more than a few, and possibly hundreds of immigrants and the family members of immigrants; and embedded in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, or the repeated attempts by one of the two major party candidates for president to stigmatize and demonize entire minority immigrant groups as "criminals" or
"terrorists', while building a Wall against them, carrying out Mass Deportation on a scale unheard of in America or any democratic country, and barring hundreds of millions of people from a number of countries, if not every country, from setting foot in the US solely because of their religion, while putting their US citizen co-religionists under suspicion or surveillance?

For the full text of the open letter, see:

For the Huffpost story, see:

Who are a bigger threat to America's values, our democracy and everything America stands for- immigrants who come to this country from every part of the world because they admire and respect our values and our freedom and want to contribute to American society while seeking a better life in this country; or who may be trying to escape from persecution, discrimination, or terror in their own countries to seek refuge in America, which was founded in order to be a refuge from tyranny and oppression?

Or demagogic politicians who seek to gain power by dividing all members of our society against each other on the basis of race, color or religion, and promoting hatred of group against group?

Since this is a non-political site which does not support or oppose any party or candidates for office, but is only concerned with commenting on their immigration related statements and policies, I leave it to readers and the American voters this fall to answer the above questions.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law