During the presidential campaign, there were numerous speeches by Donald Trump and his immigration restrictionist supporters about the real and perceived dangers that both legal and illegal immigration could pose to America's national security.

From his initial warnings that Mexican immigrants (other than those who may happen to work for his own businesses, of course) were to a large extent "criminals", "rapists" and drug dealers, to his proposed worldwide ban on Muslim immigration (now modified to "extreme vetting" from mainly Muslim countries), not to mention still extant proposals for a "registry" of Muslim immigrants or even US citizens (should they also perhaps be required to wear a green crescent with a large "M" sewn on their clothing?), Donald Trump's biggest anti-immigrant selling point was and always has been concern over the physical security of the American people.

Without a doubt, the attacks at San Bernardino, California and Orlando, Florida, gave added weight and urgency to this concern, as Trump lost no time in pointing out again and again.

Fear of terrorism and violent crime on the part of immigrants therefore undoubtedly helped Trump to become the first president who has been elected to this office in 16 years despite suffering a resounding defeat in the popular vote.

President-elect Trump has now responded to these concerns by nominating a respected retired general, Marine Corp General John Kelly, who has served under both Democratic and Republican presidents and has unquestioned expertise and experience in protecting America's borders against violent criminals and terrorists, to be the new chief of DHS which, after all means: Department of Homeland Security, and which was established in response to the 9/11 2001 terrorist attacks.

But, no matter how extensive General Kelly's knowledge and experience may be in protecting Americans against perceived threats of violent crime and terror at the hands of immigrants, it appears that some restrictionist leaders are not happy with this choice.

They would have preferred Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who, unlike Kelly, has minimal if any experience in combating Latin American drug cartels or criminal gangs, but has extensive experience in drafting state laws which led to racial profiling of non-white immigrants (such as the notorious Arizona S.B. 1070 and its counterparts in Alabama and other states), as well as state voter suppression laws in several states aimed at keeping black, Hispanic and other minority American citizens away from the voting booth.

The Hill,
for example, quotes Mark Krikorian, head of the innocuously named Center for Immigration studies, which has long supported lower levels of legal immigration, not only the illegal variety, as saying about Kelly:

"He's clearly committed to protecting the physical security of Americans; we still don't know how committed he'll be to protecting their economic security."


And the same article also quotes Roy Beck, head of another well known restrictionsist group, Numbers USA, as saying:

"[Kelley's] interest is going to be terrorism and national security...That's where his experience is.

He will deal with immigration as it relates to terrorism, but in terms of the economic part of immigration [Beck says he's] "very nervous about it".

"Very nervous" that the new DHS chief might be too "committed to protecting the physical security of Americans"?

What on earth are these people talking about? And what is their real immigration agenda?

For the answer to that question, we should look in more detail at the anti-immigrant, anti-minority voting rights record of Kris Kobach, whose being passed over for DHS chief was evidently a cause for so much disappointment on the part of some of America's most influential restrictionsts.

I will examine the record of Kris Kobach, who is reported as being an immigration adviser to Trump, and who may still play a major role in setting immigration policy in the new administration, more closely in a forthcoming post.

While labor law in general is beyond the scope of these comments, it is also worth noting that many of the elected officials and other opinion leaders who express such great concern about the effects of immigration on the "economic security". i.e. salaries and job opportunities of American workers, are notably silent, if not actively opposed to, other measures which would clearly benefit these workers and raise their living standards.

These include union bargaining rights, raises in the minimum wage, and equal pay for women, to name just a few. Why are so many officials who are strongly opposed to these policies suddenly so concerned about the welfare of American workers when immigration is under discussion?

One might also ask why so many officials who were elected on the basis of promises to cut the "job killing" federal bureaucracy and rely on free market principles, suddenly feel the need for increasing an already huge, onerous, expensive and complex system of immigration enforcement regulations when the rights and privileges of immigrants from Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa are on the table.

Update, December 8, 1:45 pm:

The hypocrisy of those who say that the reason they support draconian immigration enforcement measures or restrictions on legal immigration in order to protect the jobs and better the living standards of American workers is underscored by the breaking news (on the afternoon of December 8) that Trump intends to appoint anti-union, anti-minimum wage fast food executive Andrew Puzder as head of the US Department of Labor.


The idea that someone like Puzder, who has show so little care for the welfare of working people could be tasked, as Trump has said will be the case, of investigating whether current legal visa programs are hurting American workers is nothing but a cruel, cynical joke - not only on legal, employment-based immigrants, but on American workers as well.
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 immigrants from many parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com