Kelly’s im­mi­gra­tion fal­lacy

The Week (US) - - 12 News - Paul Wald­man


John Kelly for­gets where he came from, said Paul Wald­man. The White House chief of staff last week de­fended the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s cruel pol­icy of tak­ing chil­dren away from par­ents who ar­rive at the U.S. south­ern border by say­ing it was nec­es­sary to stop the in­flux of un­e­d­u­cated peo­ple who would not “eas­ily as­sim­i­late” into the U.S. This ca­nard “has been used against ev­ery wave of im­mi­grants” in our his­tory, in­clud­ing the Ital­ians, the Chinese, the Ir­ish, and the Jews. Kelly’s ma­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, an Ital­ian im­mi­grant, never spoke a word of English and ped­dled fruit from a cart in Bos­ton; the Ir­ish im­mi­grants on his fa­ther’s side, mean­while, were viewed at the time as “un­e­d­u­cated brutes” prone to drunk­en­ness, crime, and vi­o­lence. In re­al­ity, ev­ery wave of im­mi­grants has fol­lowed the same pat­tern of steady as­sim­i­la­tion through three gen­er­a­tions; re­search shows this is hap­pen­ing with His­pan­ics too. And the new ar­rivals are do­ing work our so­ci­ety still needs—pick­ing our crops, wash­ing dishes in restau­rants, work­ing in con­struc­tion, and pay­ing bil­lions in taxes each year. Kelly may come off as more dig­ni­fied than his boss, but his ideas about im­mi­gra­tion “are rooted in the same mis­con­cep­tions and even big­otry.”

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