Is America flirting with ethnic cleansing?
It certainly appears that our great country is embarking on a program to deny entry to immigrants of color and to expel many who are already here, even if they entered legally.
The program has two components — a publicity effort to besmirch refugees and other immigrants, and wide-ranging governmental actions to reduce the immigrant population. It takes on the look of an ethnic cleansing of this wonderful immigrant nation.
The publicity effort falsely claims that immigrants bring crime and violence to our country. Statistics consistently show that the criminal offense rate of immigrants is about half that of home-grown Americans.
Similar false and shameful claims against Italians in the early 1920s caused Congress to bar their entry by the Immigration Act of 1924. We later recognized the stupidity of that law and repealed it.
The same hysteria is now being raised against people from south of the border and persons of color from so-called “sh__hole countries” in Africa and elsewhere. It may be good politics but it is factually and morally wrong.
At the same time, the federal government is moving against immigrants on a wide front. The President wants to cut legal immigration in half and eliminate the family unification program that allows people to bring their immediate family members to the U.S., just like his wife recently did.
He has cut refugee admissions from 110,000 in 2016 to just over 20,000 this year. The cap on admissions was 45,000 this year but the bureaucrats have cut that in half with administrative barriers. A further reduction will soon be announced.
About 325,000 residents admitted to the U.S. over the last couple of decades because of disaster or violence in their home countries will be tossed out in the coming year. Most are from El Salvador and other Central American countries. They have about 273,000 U.S. born kids they will have to either leave behind or take with them.
Of course, we are all familiar with the cruel separation of asylum-seekers from their minor children on the southern border. The “zero-tolerance” program, which has left hundreds of kids still separated from their parents, was designed to scare people away from America. And, the Dreamers are being held as hostages to build an expensive, unnecessary, and ineffective border wall.
The undocumented family members of military veterans and active duty personnel are being threatened with deportation. Some immigrants who volunteered to serve in our military to get citizenship are being told that Uncle Sam is welching out of the deal.
Iraqis and Afghans who risked their necks to help and protect American troops are being denied entry to safety in America.
Now, the administration is preparing a new rule to penalize immigrants legally in the country if their family has received a public benefit such as Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The rule will likely be released before the midterm election and may jeopardize a legal resident’s right to obtain citizenship, even if the recipient of the benefit is a child who is a U.S. citizen. The effect of such a rule would be huge, as it could impact millions of immigrants who came to the country legally.
Ethnic cleansing is not a concept to be invoked lightly, but when a policy looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, about the only conclusion to be drawn is that the country is heading down a dark path.
Jim Jones served as an Army artillery officer in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 and received an Army Commendation Medal for his work with an orphanage there. He served for eight years as Idaho Attorney General and was a justice on the Idaho Supreme Court for 12 years. He currently resides in Boise.