Any readers who are old enough to remember the influence of Lyndon Johnson's powerful personality in bringing about the civil rights era (including the landmark 1965 law ending decades of racial and religious discrimination in America's immigration policies) and the Great Society in the 1960's on the positive side, as well as his dragging America into full scale involvement in the disastrous Vietnam War on the negative side, will surely understand the influence that a president's personality can have on policy, and how difficult it can sometimes be to separate the two.

America now has another president whose personality is very arguably having a powerful influence on policy, at least in the immigration area, and it is becoming increasing difficult to understand the policy without taking personality into account. This is made clear by a December 23 New York Times article:

Stoking Fears, Trump Defied Bureaucracy to Advance Immigration Agenda

The Times report begins:

"Late to his own meeting and waving a sheet of numbers, President Trump stormed into the Oval Office one day in June, visibly enraged.

Five months
before, Mr. Trump has dispatched federal officers to the nation's airports to stop travelers from several Muslim countries from entering the United States...

But so many foreigners had flooded into the country since January, he vented to his national security team, that it was making a mockery of his pledge. Friends were calling to say he looked like a fool, Mr. Trump said."

According to the above report, Trump then began reading from documents showing how many immigrants had received visas to enter the United States in 2017. The report continues:

"More than 2,500 were from Afghanistan, a terrorist haven, the president complained.

Haiti had sent 15,000 people. They 'all have AIDS' , he grumbled, according to one person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there.

Forty thousand had come from Nigeria, Mr. Trump added. Once they had seen the United States, they would never 'go back to their huts' in Africa, recalled to two officials who asked for anonymity to discuss a sensitive conversation in the Oval Office."

According to this same report, the White House has denied that the president used vicious insults toward black immigrants such as saying that they "all have AIDS" or that they should "go back to their huts", but it did not deny the general substance of the discussion as reported above. The Times article then says that two of Trump's top aides, John Kelly and Stephen Miller, then "turned their ire" on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, blaming him for the influx of foreigners.

The fact that, presumably, all of the people who had been issued visas were entitled to receive them because they had met the requirements of applicable law for admission to the United States does not appear to have been mentioned or come under consideration in the discussion.

The above is not the only instance of the president's fury over what he evidently sees as the admission of too many non-European immigrants during his administration, according to the above report.

The same article also relates the following, regarding Trump's failure to have the first version of his Muslim entry ban upheld by the federal courts, and the recommendation of attorney general Jeff Sessions to replace it with a narrower ban that would have a better chance of standing up in court:

"The president, though, was furious about what he saw as backing down to politically correct adversaries. He did not want a 'watered-down' version of the travel ban, he yelled at Donald F, McGahn II, the White House Counsel, as the issue came to a head on Friday, March 3, in the Oval Office."

The above is not to say that the president's immigration policies are determined by personal anger toward non-white immigrants in every instance. The same article, for example, describes Trump as having a "soft spot" toward DACA beneficiaries and wanting to do something on their behalf (even though he has terminated their temporary legal status, effective only 3 months from now).

But, as the above article shows, there is ample evidence that the president's immigration policies are heavily influenced by personal animosity toward non-European immigrants, rather than rational considerations of what policies might be in America's best interests.

As the same NY Times story also reports, Frank Sharry the executive director of America's Voice, describes Trump's immigration agenda as follows:

"He's basically saying, 'You people of color coming to America seeking the American dream are a threat to the white people.'...He's come into office with an aggressive strategy of trying to reverse the demographic changes under way in America."

As mentioned above, the White House has disputed the above story in a couple of details, though not in overall substance. However, this article clearly explains both the purpose and the personal passion behind the president's immigration agenda, which he is in all likelihood determined to push even harder for in the coming year.

A very Happy New Year to all readers.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world obtain work visas and green cards.

Based on his years of experience representing immigrants in H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and other work visa cases; and in obtaining green cards based on labor certification (PERM), and through marriage and other family relationships, Roger understands the importance of immigration to the lives and careers of people coming to the US from all over the world.

Roger's email address is