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Trump is trying to Make America White Again

Eugene Robinson on

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's immigration proposal reveals what he has been after all along: an end to family-based immigration and the "lottery visa," which would mean fewer Latino, African and Muslim newcomers. And perhaps more Norwegians, if any want to come.

Yes, Trump is trying to Make America White Again. You're probably not surprised.

The broad amnesty that the White House offers to 1.8 million people brought here illegally when they were children is just a diversion. The $25 billion Trump wants for his "border wall system" -- really more of an intermittent fence -- is mostly a sop to his base. Much more important in the long run is the fundamental shift Trump wants to make in the nation's system of legal immigration.

The administration seeks to drastically curtail the ability of immigrants to sponsor family members for entry into the country. This can only be seen as an attempt to halt the "browning" of America.

Under current law, U.S. citizens -- including immigrants who are naturalized -- can petition to obtain entry for their spouses, parents, siblings and sons and daughters of any age. Immigrants who are not citizens but hold green cards -- meaning they are permanent residents -- can sponsor spouses and minor or adult children for entry.

Trump proposes a sweeping change: Both citizens and green-card holders would only be able to sponsor spouses and minor children. As far as parents, siblings and adult children are concerned: Hasta la vista.

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It is, of course, ironic that Republicans, who yammer so much about family values, would even entertain a proposal that is so deeply anti-family. But the party nominated and elected a thrice-married man who bragged about his habit of sexual harassment and allegedly paid hush money to a porn star for her silence about a tryst, so I guess that horse has long since left the barn.

The idea of limiting family-based sponsorship -- championed by administration officials such as presidential adviser Stephen Miller and his former boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions -- is broadly supported by GOP immigration hard-liners. Since it is difficult to argue against bringing close relatives together, proponents use the clinical-sounding term "chain migration," as if we were talking about links of metal rather than flesh-and-blood human beings.

Trump also wants to eliminate the diversity visa program, which allocates 50,000 visas each year to countries that otherwise send few immigrants to the United States. Applicants are selected by lottery but then are carefully vetted. White House claims that individuals are admitted "at random" in a program "riddled with fraud and abuse" are lies.

What is true is that the diversity lottery has primarily benefited migrants from African nations, which Trump has called "shithole countries."

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