On January 30, in his State of the Union address, Donald Trump continued the pattern of falsehoods and demoniztion against immigrants and insistence that immigration is harmful for American citizens in general that he has maintained throughout his campaign and his presidency.

The speech, with its insistence on demolishing two key parts of our legal immigration system which, between them have allowed tens of millions of productive, law-abiding immigrants from all parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America as well as Europe to become US legal residents within the past several decades; namely family immigration for parents, siblings and adult children of US citizens, and the Diversity Visa lottery, will almost certainly make the chances of a DACA compromise even more remote and put almost 2 million DREAMERS in greater danger of deportation.

The full text of his speech is available at:


His immigration comments are on pages 5 and 6 of the speech.

The president began his immigration remarks with what has now become his staple inflammatory accusation that immigrants are dangerous criminals who harm Americans and take away their jobs:

"For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives."

This may seem hostile enough toward the 30 or 40 million legal immigrants, the majority of whom are from Latin America, Asia and Africa, who have found better lives in America over the past half century ever since the bigoted Northern Europeans only immigration law of 1924 was finally repealed in 1965.

But Trump's SOTU remarks about immigration went downhill from there. He continued with a lengthy diatribe against the MS-13 gang, just in case anyone had forgotten his warning two and a half years ago that Mexican (and by extension other Latin American immigrants) are mostly "criminals" and "rapists", and then promised to "fix" our immigration our immigration laws - mainly by demolishing important foundations of our legal immigration system which have no connection with criminal gangs.

Then, returning to the theme of the supposed threat that immigrants pose to working Americans, especially those who are struggling economically, he stated:

"...my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities...I want our poor to have their chance to rise."

Where was this concern, one might ask, when Trump signed a trillion dollar tax cut for the richest Americans, tried to gut President Obama's health insurance protections for millions of average and less well off people and cut or eliminated federal programs too numerous to mention which benefit average and lower income Americans? Once again, the president's "concern" for average working people becomes evident only when he can use it as a club to beat immigrants with.

Trump then went on to introduce the four "pillars" of his immigration reform plan. First is the carrot, in the form of an admittedly generous proposal which would lead to eventual US citizenship for 1.8 million DREAMERS.

Second is the border Wall with all its associations of insult and contempt for Mexico and Latin American immigrants in general, as well as even darker reminders of the Communist Berlin Wall and the Nazi Warsaw Ghetto Wall - a symbol of the Nazi persecution of the Jews which Trump spoke against so eloquently only about seven months ago in a speech given in that city.

However, if he had stopped at that point, DACA relief in exchange for Wall funding, most immigration advocates would agree that the elements of a compromise deal might have been in place. But he did not stop there.

Instead, Trump went on to his third "pillar" namely calling for an end to the visa lottery. Going back to almost 30 years ago, the green lottery began as a program (called AA-1) almost entirely for white immigrants only, with especially large set-asides reserved for Ireland and Poland. I do not remember any criticism of that program from immigration restrictionists at that time, even thought this program, unlike the current DV lottery contained automatic waivers of inadmissibility for lottery winners who had committed visa fraud or previously been deported.

In other words, giving green cards by lottery even to "bad people" was not a problem in those days, as long as the people involved were almost entirely white. (There were two Asian countries on the list as well - Japan and Indonesia - I remember well because I represented AA-1 clients from both those countries, as well as others.)

But now that the visa lottery has been open to people from every part of the world since 1995, and has been especially advantageous to immigrants from Africa in recent years, Trump claims in his SOTU address that this program (which requires at least the equivalent of a high school education):

"...hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people." (Bold and italics added.)

This, again, is nothing more than another presidential falsehood. Visa lottery winners are required to go through the same criminal and security checks that all other immigrants need.

There have been over one million people who have received DV green cards in the past two decades. One such person, this past fall, tried and failed to commit a terrorist attack in New York. For most people, one in a million is not enough evidence to show that an entire program is dangerous.

For this president, evidently that math does not apply - not at least when a visa that benefits mainly non-white immigrants is concerned. But that is not all. The president continues:

"It is time to move toward a merit-based immigration system - one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society and who will love and respect our country."

Except for the skills part (which Trump is also trying to attack by moving to restrict H-1B visas which are especially popular with highly educated Asian immigrants) isn't that an exact description of the more than one million diversity immigrants who have come to America in the past two decades? Where is the president's evidence that these more than a million mainly non-white immigrants do not want to do all of the above (except, as mentioned above for one bad apple and no doubt a few others that have existed in every visa and other government program since the beginning of the human race)?

But the biggest whopper of all comes in Trump's "fourth pillar" - his demand to end "chain migration", namely the (slightly) extended family immigration system that has been the heart of America's immigration system for the past half century and has enabled 30 or 40 million productive, law abiding immigrants who are here because they love America - and their families - to find a better life, or at least advance their careers, in this country.

Trump says:

"Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives."

Who are the "distant" relatives beyond the "nuclear" family whom a US citizen is allowed to sponsor under the current "chain migration" system? Parents, siblings, and adult children. This wild, if not delusional, misstatement goes far beyond even his previous fantasy that the New York Halloween terror attack suspect had sponsored "23" relatives for green cards.

What is "distant" about sponsoring ones parents, siblings or adult children for a green card? What is "unlimited" about that?

Was the president's own German grandfather's connection with his sister in the US "distant" when he immigrated to the United States to join her? Was he a danger to US security, as the president also implied about both family and diversity lottery immigrants in his speech?

The only thing that is unlimited about family and lottery green cards is the president's evident willingness to make gross misrepresentation about them in order to turn public feeling against the mainly non-white immigrants who benefit from these visas the most.

If the president is serious about reaching a compromise on immigration policy, he should begin by telling the truth about immigration, instead of spreading poisonous and inflammatory falsehoods which have no other purpose than to demonize and scapegoat immigrants, most of whom come from outside Europe and do not have white skin color, for all of America's problems.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law