Trump shoving ‘patriotic assimilation’ down people’s throats sounds so much like… Cuba. | Opinion

Trump proposes merit based immigration plan

President Trump unveiled his immigration plan at the White House on May 16. His plan includes creating a merit based selection process.
Up Next
President Trump unveiled his immigration plan at the White House on May 16. His plan includes creating a merit based selection process.

The most surprising feature of President Donald Trump’s newly unveiled immigration reform is the subdued manner in which he outlined the plan at the Rose Garden on Thursday.

No rants about criminals, only allusion.

No bad words, only those of a simpleton — “big, beautiful, bold plan” — woven in to give the prepared speech a smidgen of Trump patina.

It was as if the Ranter-in-Chief’s handlers had slipped a tranquilizer, Xanax2020, in his Diet Coke. As the incumbent, Trump desperately needs to come across more presidential — and less crass than is the norm for him — at least while standing in front of the White House.

But the cleanup was only a cover-up.

There are parts of his re-engineering of the U.S. immigration system that should be scary, not only for would-be immigrants but for all Americans.

A point system based on merit sounds benign. But some aspects of what Trump hopes Congress will turn into policy threaten the very notion of what it means to be a free American.

The president wants highly skilled workers who speak English and have job offers already in place — and, before they even get a green card, they must prove their “patriotic assimilation” to the United States.

The language requirement smacks of the usual xenophobia that comes with the pandering to the English-only crowd, despite the need the country has for multilingual people. National security, in fact, depends on it.

There’s a certain irony to the shift to skilled workers and the job-offer requirement — which already exists in the current system — coming from a man with a documented history of hiring cheap foreign labor at his hotels and golf courses, including undocumented immigrants.

”We discriminate against genius,” Trump said, making his case for a higher percentage of visas going to professionals and job creators. “We discriminate against brilliance!”

That may explain how we elected him president.

Trump and his GOP supporters are the ones who discriminate — or they would be begging all those Dreamer kids already here and graduating with top honors from high school and college to stay in this country, the only homeland they know. But instead, he’s keeping them in limbo and vulnerable to deportation. He doesn’t address them at all in this plan, which thankfully has little chance of passing the House this year.

This reform is flawed enough at its core, but it’s the “patriotic” requirement that sends chills down my spine.

Trump wants to gut countries of their best minds — and in the process shove down the throats of immigrants our Americanness before they even get here.

This demand for “patriotic assimilation” isn’t something Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, whom Trump credits with the policy, just pulled out of his brilliant mind.

The term — and all the nationalist jargon that comes with it — is the concoction of right-wing think tanks that detest multiculturalism.

“Patriotic assimilation is the bond that allows America to be a nation of immigrants,” argues Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, in an essay. “Without it, America either ceases to be a nation, becoming instead a hodgepodge of groups — or it becomes a nation that can no longer welcome immigrants. It cannot be both a unified nation and a place that welcomes immigrants without patriotic assimilation.”

It’s spin for a bigger goal that goes beyond immigration: The desire for a conservative take-over of academia, culture, and government, which conservatives like Gonzalez believe are responsible for creating “groups” instead of one nation under God (theirs).

These people would be thrilled to live in a Fascist America where the state dictates — and demands — your undivided loyalty to the program and your unflinching devotion to a uniform nation.

We’re talking the end of the romantic notion that we are a free people who can speak as we like, feel as we feel, be who we are, without fear of government reprisals.

How is this Trump would-be immigrant requirement different from the government worship that totalitarian regimes like Cuba and North Korea demand of its citizens? Has individual freedom, too, lost its worth as a value in this country? We all have to fall in line, or else....

What Trump proposes has the markings of the type of domination we fought against in World War II: Fascism.

Sadly as well, Trump’s aim to create an elitist model of immigration obliterates the proud immigration history of our parents and grandparents, who were modest, hard-working people who built cities like Miami, New York, Los Angeles.

It’s a bad plan, not only for would-be immigrants who aren’t rich and white, but for all Americans.

Forget about the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to breathe free knocking on our door, Trump dictates.

The Statue of Liberty is only a tourist attraction, a relic of another America.

Award-winning columnist Fabiola Santiago has been writing about all things Miami since 1980, when the Mariel boatlift became her first front-page story. A Cuban refugee child of the Freedom Flights, she’s also the author of essays, short fiction, and the novel “Reclaiming Paris.”