Ever since President Joe Biden took office and started to roll back some of the more extreme measures that the Trump/Miller administration had taken to keep nonwhite immigrants out of the US and turn the clock back to the Europeans-only system that was enacted in 1924, (such as the Muslim ban, the new Public Charge rule, and drastic restrictions against asylum and H-1B visas), Republicans have been hyping the Mexican border "Crisis" as a way of stirring up anger and hostility against immigration in general. The obvious goal is to reduce or stop immigration from Asia, Africa and Latin America, which were the areas most affected by the Trump/Miller measures.

(This is despite the fact that a totally senseless and irrational ban on granting visas to Europeans, originally imposed due to Covid-19. is still in place under Biden. Talk about collateral damage!)

In reality, the so-called "Surge" in unauthorized immigration at the Mexican border since President Biden took office has consisted in large part of legitimate asylum seekers fleeing from intolerable violence, corruption and poverty in Central America, as well as unaccompanied. young children.

The so-called border "Crisis" is also being put forth as a reason for Republican opposition to Democratic immigration reform.proposals. such as legalization (not "citizenship" as misleading media headlines describe it) for "Dreamers" and other immigrants who are currently in the US without legal status. Why grant benefits to "undocumented" immigrants, the argument runs, if we have "lost control" of our border?

But how genuine is the Republican concern over the "surge " in unauthorized immigration at the Mexican border since Biden became president? It would be easier to take this concern more seriously if the Republican party did not have a record of trying to end, or severely curtail, all immigration, including most forms of legal immigration. It is no secret that the Republican electoral strategy is to appeal to a white voter base made up of people who are opposed to what is politely known as "demographic change" or, more accurately, the "browning of America".

CNN analyst Ronald Brownstein described this in detail three years ago, in a June 26, 2018 study entitled:

GOP increasingly opposes even legal immigration


In Brownstein's words:

"...in all parts of the country, the Republican coalition now revolves around the elements of American society most uneasy about immigration in particular and demographic change in general: older, blue collar, evangelical and non-urban whites. In recent polling by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, Republicans living in urban, suburban and rural communities, for instance, were far less likely than Democrats in the same places to say that immigrants had improved the quality of life in their neighborhoods."

No one now disputes that Trump was elected in 2016 in large part due to prejudice among white voters against brown and black immigrants, and that appeals to this bigoted Republican "base" were behind the hundreds of measures that Trump and Stephen Miller put into effect to cut off or sharply reduce legal immigration from non-European areas of the world.

But Republican hostility toward black, Latino and Asian immigrants did not begin with Donald Trump's cult of personality term in the White House. It goes back at least 30 years, to the 1990's "backlash" by white voters against the large increase in legal immigration from nonwhite parts of the world that took place during the previous three decades as a result of the 1965 immigration reform act.

That law had ended forty years of white supremacy in America's legal immigration system, which had effectively cut off most immigration from outside Europe. This "backlash against the increase in legal immigration by Latino ad other black and brown people was typified in the book Alien Nation by Peter Brimelow (who was an immigrant himself - from the UK) and also by the right wing columnist Patrick Buchanan, who later ran as a third party candidate for president in 2000.)

They, and others like them argued that Latino immigrants in particular, and nonwhite immigrants in general, were incompatible with (white) American values and culture and therefore incapable of participating in American society. This appeal to bigotry was also spread by other influential writers such as the late Harvard professor Samuel Huntington in his book
Who are We?

"We" in Huntington's opinion, definitely did not include Latino or other non-European immigrants in any category, legal or unauthorized. These sentiments were echoed by other popular anti-immigrant pundits, such as Ann Coulter, beginning in the late 1990's, and then New York Post columnist Michelle Malkin, whose parents were Filipino immigrants.

This is not even to mention the late Rush Limbaugh, who began his three-decade career of promoting anti-immigrant hate in the early 1990's and was, disgracefully, rewarded for his activities in this regard by Donald Trump with the Medal of Freedom.

If this medal can be revoked, President Biden should do so immediately.

The constant stream of right wing anti-immigrant invective ultimately led to the 1996 Illegal Immigration and immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which not only imposed draconian penalties on immigrants who remain in the US without legal status (the "unlawful presence" rules) but also made legal immigration by lower income families much harder ("affidavit of support") . The affidavit of support requirement, in particular was aimed at Latino immigrants.

It ultimately led to the Trump/Miller Public Charge rule which was intended to lead to a drastic reduction in non-European legal immigration, and which President Biden has now withdrawn. IIRIRA was rushed through a Republican-controlled Congress with no opportunity for discussion or debate, just over month before the presidential election, and was attached to an urgent government appropriations bill that would have been virtually impossible for President Bill Clinton to veto.

Faced with this kind of pressure, Clinton caved into the Republicans and signed the bill into law. But this was not the end of Republican legislative attempts to reduce or stop legal immigration from nonwhite parts of the world It was only the beginning, as will be shown in Part 2 of this three-part series.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law