While appearing on MSNBC’s “AM Joy,” Beto O’Rourke – a former Democratic congressman from Texas – attributed racist motives to President Trump’s recent idea of a short pause in immigration during record high unemployment and the COVID-19 crisis, portraying it as part of a sinister plot to “stop nonwhite immigration.”
Host Joy Reid asked O’Rourke: “We have reported that Stephen Miller sees this crisis as an opportunity to install his long-term vision of shutting down much of nonwhite immigration (…) What do you make of the fact there are people in the White House who see this as an opportunity to keep more brown people out of the United States?”
In response, the failed 2018 Senate and 2020 presidential candidate claimed that the notion of the short immigration time-out was “part and parcel of a much larger trend and a much more encompassing effort on the part of the Trump Administration to stop nonwhite immigration into the United States.”
Beto also doubled-down on the narrative that if it were not for the foreign-born (O’Rourke typically lumped illegal aliens in with legal immigrants as “immigrants”) the U.S. economy and healthcare system would suddenly crumble. These arguments have been repeatedly discredited by FAIR – whether it concerns medical professionals (doctors and nurses) or farmworkers.
The Joy Reid – Beto O’Rourke exchange illustrates two things. The first is the modern-day left’s myopic obsession with race, ethnicity, and identity politics. The second is the intellectually dishonest nature of the non-stop attacks on President Trump’s immigration policies and the attempts to kill any discussion of immigration policy by racializing everything.
Also noteworthy is the failure to mention that President Trump’s presidential proclamation had many exemptions – including for foreign guest workers from all over the world – and was rightly criticized by FAIR for this very reason. (Neither Reid nor O’Rourke uttered anything about exemptions.) The actual immigration pause triggered by the Executive Order affects only a small portion of the immigration flow from every region of the world, regardless of race and ethnicity.
Of course, leftists like Beto O’Rourke and Joy Reid would probably respond that anything that reduces immigration is by definition racist because the vast majority of the immigration flow into the U.S. comes from countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
For instance, in Fiscal Year 2018, out of a total of approximately 1.1 million legal admissions, Europeans constituted less than 10 percent (85,000), while immigrants from Asia made up a third (383,000). There were also approximately 475,000 permanent admissions from Latin America and the Caribbean – which amounts to about 43 percent – while Africans made up 10 percent, or 113,000. Europe sent the smallest number by far.
In the process of painting every action with his broad brush of racism, Beto and other critics neglect to mention why Asia and Latin America have dominated the immigration flow to our country for decades: the Immigration Act of 1965, and its goal to end national origin discrimination. While this broadened the immigrant flow from other regions of the world, it also created numerous problems of its own, like the advent of chain migration. This allowed certain populous Asian and Latin American nations – such as India, China, and Mexico – to semi-monopolize immigration to the U.S. at the expense of many other countries with smaller populations. (It’s worth noting that President Trump has called for merit-based immigration – which would dismantle chain migration and select future immigrants in a non-discriminatory way, based on their own personal merit.)
Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is decimating America’s economy and workforce, and also given that international travel and migration (and large numbers of people moving around in general) play a major role in the spread of the coronavirus, suspending immigration to the U.S. is the right thing to do. Other countries – such as Australia, New Zealand, and, to an extent, also Canada – have done the exact same thing.
Temporarily pausing the immigrant flow in the middle of an unemployment and public health crisis is a common-sense policy. The ethnic composition of the immigration flow is irrelevant here. The fact that some critics would rather play the “race card” than protect American citizens and workers says a lot about their own priorities, but nothing substantive about the president’s proclamation.