Update, October 6 at 12:54 pm:

reports on October 5 that, in a new tweet, Trump has accused the Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, of "fighting for the violent M-13 gangs & Sanctuary Cities"


This latest attempt by the president to demonize Mexican and other Latino immigrants as violent criminals is straight out of the more than a century-old playbook of vilification directed against racial and religious minorities on the part of white supremacist immigration opponents as described in more detail below.

However, it is not only the rights of immigrants that are in danger from these open appeals to racial and religious hatred on the part of powerful politicians and other influential public figures, such as Donald Trump in the case of Mexican and Muslim immigrants, and the notorious anti-semitic automobile magnate, Henry Ford, in the 1920's and 1930's with his invective against the Jews.

As the example of Germany in the 1930's shows, demonizing and scapegoating conducted against an unpopular minority, in that case also the Jews, can lead to the end of democracy and the institution of fascism or some other form of authoritarian rule.

We must not let this happen in America.

My earlier comments appear below.

This comment has been updated and revised as of October 5 at 1:18 pm.

POLITICO reports on October 5 that Trump's top immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, who even though still quite young, is already well known for his white supremacist views


is drafting a proposal that would cut legal immigration in half as Trump's price for agreeing to sign a legislative fix for DREAMERS whose dilemma Trump himself created by cancelling the DACA program.


This latest reported assault on legal immigration in the Trump administration makes a review of America's shameful history of actions to bar immigration by targeted groups, whether Jews, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Africans and Asians a century ago, or Muslims, Latin Americans (and still Africans and Asians!) today, all the more important in order to understand the roots of Trump's war on non-white immigrants and the direction in which it could be leading.

Decades ago, while I was a Harvard Law School student. one of my professors referred to the old adage that a page of history was worth a dozen pages of law (or was it a hundred? - I have forgotten the exact quote). The point was, of course, that in order to understand the real meaning of a law or judicial decision, it is essential to pay attention to its background and context.

In the same way, anyone who wants to understand the real meaning and purpose of Donald Trump's immigration agenda has to take America's long history of scapegoating and rejecting unpopular immigrant minorities into account, even if the targets of prejudice have changed.

Today, much of the commentary concerning the Donald Trump administration's immigration policies deals with detail in isolation, as if America had never faced these questions before:

Will or will not the federal courts interpret Trump's Muslim ban executive orders (whichever updated version may be in vogue at the moment) to allow Muslim grandparents of US citizens to enter the United States? Is Trump deporting more immigrants than President Obama did, or is Trump actually deporting fewer immigrants but only arresting and incarcerating more than Obama did?

Now that Trump has pulled the rug out from under nearly 800,000 young people in the US who are mainly from Mexico and other parts of Latin America by rescinding President Obama's DACA protections, will our current president seriously try to persuade Congress to grant relief for these deserving immigrants who are American in all but their documents, and who were brought to this country through no fault of their own?

Does it make any sense to troll Facebook or other social media to try to find connections to Muslim or other foreign terrorists while a home grown, native-born white American weapons addict guns down 59 victims and sends more 500 others to the hospital with injuries?

Was the DHS making the best use of its resources by rounding up and arresting 498 mainly Hispanic and other non-white immigrants, including 317 "criminal aliens" whose most frequently charged offense was DUI (in 86 cases). not to mention the acute danger to America posed by one immigrant who was arrested as a "Peeping Tom", instead of concentrating on making more effective arrangements to protect more than 3 million Hispanic US citizens who, at that time, were awaiting the worst hurricane in Puerto Rico's entire history?

These are all important questions, but they, along with dozens of others of today's immigration policy issues, cannot be fully understood purely on their own terms. In order to understand and deal with these issues meaningfully and comprehensively, we must look at America's immigration past.

To do this, I will turn to an article which is not by a law professor but by a journalist.

Despite the fact that it originates from outside academia, and that it also contains an incomplete and faulty understanding the issues involved in this administration's war on H-1B and other skilled immigrants, this article, which appeared on August 5 in The Daily Beast, by Jack Schwartz, a former Newsday book editor, contains one of the best descriptions of the connection between immigration in the Trump era and America's past history of prejudice against immigrant minorities that can be found anywhere. See:


In response to an unconscionable attempt by Trump's white supremacist White House immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, to downplay the significance of the State of Liberty as a beacon of American freedom and immigration diversity, Schwartz writes:

"...a sea change had occurred in the national origins of America's immigrants. In the 40 years between 1880 and 1920 more than 20 million immigrants arrived in this country. Millions of Italians, Jews and Slavs arrived in the port of New York alone..."

As every schoolchild in America knows, and has known for generations, the Statue of Liberty, with its world-famous poem by Emma Lazarus inscribed at the bottom, is a symbol of welcome to immigrants from all over the world.

Schwartz writes:

"There is a subtext to Miller's admonition
[that the Emma Lazarus poem was not part of the original Statue of Liberty, but was added a couple of decades later - what difference on earth does that make?!] That the Statue of Liberty does not celebrate a land of immigrants but is rather a memorial to Republican virtue. The object is to divorce the idea of liberty from foreign taint. Implicit in this message is that our liberties are threatened by alien incursions. It is at the heart of a nativist agenda that hearkens back to the anti-Irish Know-Nothing agitation of the 19th Century and continued spasmodically throughout our history."

Schwartz continues, with a reference to one of the most popular anti-immigrant strategies used by nativist of the early 20th Century to try to keep out Jews, Italians and Eastern European immigrants, a strategy that is being revived today in the English-language preference provisions of the proposed RAISE Act, a measure that would drastically cut immigration form outside Europe, and which Trump has expressed such vigorous support for:

"Although thwarted by presidential vetoes, nativists finally succeeded in passing a literacy test for immigrants in 1917, a prologue to the racially motivated quota system of the 1920's that stifled immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe."

Schwartz also adds:

"President Trump's proposal to cut legal immigration in half in keeping with this history of nativist resurgence. In fact Miller, by embracing the idea that immigrants be required to speak English, is doing the restrictionists one better. They had only insisted that immigrants be literate in at least one tongue, not limited to English. Miller has upped the ante."

Rebutting the common restrictionist myth that the white European immigrants of 100 years ago learned English faster and assimilated to American culture more easily than the Latin American, Asian, Middle Eastern and African immigrants of today, Schwartz writes:

"It was assumed that they would learn English once they arrived, as most arrived. But not all...Immigrants to the Lower East Side learned English in fits ad starts...Italian coal miners read newspapers such as Il Martello and Jewish garment workers poured over The Forverts. The foreign language press was a staple of immigrant communities many of whose members had little or no English. It was their children who fully assimilated."

While today's anti-immigrant white supremacists promote the myth of white immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries supposedly having easily fit into and been accepted by American society, the reality was very different. Schwartz writes the following about one leading anti-immigrant figure of that period:

"Prescott Hall, a leader of the immigration Restrictionist League in the early 20th century, outraged by President Taft's veto of an immigration bill imposing literacy tests on immigrants, declared: 'To hell with Jews, Jesuits and steamships.''

Schwartz also comments, accurately and in a matter of fact manner:

"Updating this to replace the aforementioned with Mexicans and Muslims, we have a fairly concise picture of Trump's immigration policy."

Anyone who thinks for a moment that Latin American, Asian or other non-white immigrants present unique challenges to "threats" to American society today that white, European, immigrants were never accused of presenting in the past by the immigration opponents of that earlier time; or that there is anything new about Donald Trump's relentless attacks against non-white immigrants and his ongoing attempts to exclude and expel them from America today, will be quickly disabused by Schwartz's following additional comment:

"As the social scientist Robert Mayo Smith succinctly put the case in 1890: 'It is scarcely possible that by taking the dregs of Europe we shall produce a people of high social intelligence and morality.'

What followed was a nativist campaign vilifying immigrants: Italians were a criminal element. Jews were subversives...Demonization was critical to the nativist agenda.

The specifics changed with the times and the targets but the nature remained the same."

And the fundamental nature of anti-immigrant prejudice remains the same now as it was then, even though Mexicans and Muslims have now replaced the Jews and Italians of a century and more ago as the objects of vilification and hatred by immigration restrictionsts today.

For anyone who is willing to to pay even the slightest attention to America's immigration history, there is nothing new under the sun in Donald Trump's immigration agenda.
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.

Roger's practice is focused primarily on H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and J-1 trainee visas; and on green cards through Labor Certification and through opposite sex or same sex marriage. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com