Trump won't stop trying to keep America white
WASHINGTON -- The efforts by President Trump to keep America white are getting increasingly dark.
Make no mistake: What's happening on Capitol Hill this week, at Trump's behest, is nothing other than an attempt by Republicans to slow the inexorable march toward that point at midcentury when the United States becomes a majority-minority nation.
In the long run, they are merely putting a finger in the dike. But in the short term, the Trump-backed immigration proposal, combined with other recent moves by the administration and its allies -- support for voter suppression, gerrymandering and various other schemes to disenfranchise minority voters -- could extend the white hegemony that brought Trump to power and sustains Republicans.
For ages, Republicans said that their beef was with illegal immigrants and that legal immigrants should be embraced and welcomed. No longer. In the immigration fight on the Hill, there is broad bipartisan consensus to legalize the "dreamers" -- illegal immigrants brought here as children -- and to fortify border security. The dispute is really about the Trump proposal to rein in legal immigration by undoing the family-based approach, in which immigrants petition to bring over immediate family, that has always been at the heart of U.S. immigration.
Though details aren't yet known, estimates are that the legislation would cut legal immigration, currently 1.1 million per year, by 300,000 to 500,000 annually.
Essentially, Trump and the Republicans are threatening to make nearly 700,000 dreamers subject to deportation unless Democrats agree to close the door to tens of millions of future legal immigrants.
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This won't stop the loss of a white majority; the youthful Hispanic population already here, with its higher fertility rate, makes that inevitable. "It's almost impossible to become whiter as a country," the Brookings Institution demographer William H. Frey tells me. "It's like a demographic tsunami. There aren't enough people in Norway to migrate here."
But the GOP might delay by a few years the point at which the United States becomes majority-minority, now expected in 2044. Minorities vote at lower rates than whites (52.7 percent in 2016 vs. 65.3 percent for whites), so, if Republicans can sustain that disparity, the white voting majority that the party relies on could last several years beyond 2044.
Republicans may be acting out of self-interest rather than any racial animus. But if one were to devise a diabolical plan to suppress nonwhite votes, it would look much like what they are doing.
The administration asked to include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, which will determine the apportionment of House seats. This would suppress census participation among the 7 percent of residents who are not citizens -- even those here legally -- thus causing Latinos to be undercounted.