Up to a million mainly Asian foreign students in the US can breathe a sigh of relief at the Trump administration's abrupt cave-in on the July 6 announced ICE policy of mass deportation against F-1 visa holders who refuse to expose themselves to coronavirus by attending in person classes at a time when infections have passed the 3 million mark in America. Hundreds of schools and universities across the nation can also express relief at regaining their independence and not being forced to become tools in Trump's racist agenda and authoritarian power grab by through being forced by the administration, in true fascist style to expose international students to the deadly infection by "'reopening" with dangerous in person classes against all responsible medical advice - including that of Trump's courageous but embattled top medical expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

But while the immediate danger of a Trump administration shutdown of a large and essential part of America's legal immigration system may have passed, the larger threat to legal immigration, and America's democracy, remains. Trump's failed foreign student mass expulsion was only one battle in his and Stephen Miller's multi-front war on legal immigration, a war that has deep roots in America's history of any-immigrant racism.

Trump's attack on legal immigration began in his first week in office with his initial Muslim ban order, which, like the July 6 ICE order, was so obviously illegal that it had to be withdrawn and replaced by what Trump himself complained was a "watered-down" version that eventually squeaked through in a deeply flawed 5-4 Supreme Court decision that completely ignored the obvious racial and religious "animus" behind that ban.

Since that time, there has been almost no part of the legal immigration system that has been immune fro, Trump's attack. DACA, asylum, refugee admissions, TPS, H-1B, family immigration and the Diversity green card, have all come under file and faced restrictions or attempts at elimination, even as Trump , in speech after speech, tweet after tweet, has demonized and dehumanized non-European immigrants, blasted legal immigrants from "shithole" countries and stated that America's immigrants should come only from "Countries like Norway".

But Donald Trump did not originate anti-immigrant racism. It has a long history in America, beginning with the anti-Irish Know-Nothing movement of the 1840,s, continuing with the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision holding that only white peoole could be US citizens; and 25, years later, with the first Chinese exclusion law in 1882. This overt racism ultimately led to the 1924 "nation origins" immigration act which effectively cut off most, in not all , immigration to the US from outside the "Nordic countries of Europe.

Much later, in the 1980's and 1990's an anti-immigrant movement seeking a return to 1920's- style immigration white supremacy, with the support of a Republican party dominated by Richard Nixon's white supremacist so-called "Southern Strategy", advanced a series of proposals aimed at cutting back on nonwhite immigration that eventually were enacted as part of the 1996 Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which forms the basis of much of today's immigration law.

This was all long before Donald Trump first came on the immigration scene by promoting the racist fiction that President Barack Obama (who still holds the record for deporting more immigrants than any other president in US history) was himself an immigrant who was born in Kenya, not a native born US citizen.

Trump has built on and, in some ways, expanded (as in Miller's novel Public Charge rule), this dark history of hate and bigotry, and has sunk to new depths of prejudice, discrimination and human rights violations against nonwhite immigrants.

Daniel Denvir, a writer for Jacobin magazine and a Fellow at the Harvard Law School Fairness in Punishment Project, describes this history in a February 2020 article called:

The Deep Roots of Trump's Anti-immigrant Policies


I will examine Denvir's article in more detail in Part 2 of my comments on this topic

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard Law School LL.B
Harvard College A.B.