President Trump’s plan to limit access to welfare programs for immigrants has outraged his critics, who predictably see the move as racist.
The Trump plan makes it more difficult for immigrants or green card applicants who likely will end up on public assistance to come here.
The idea that immigrants to our country be able to support themselves, as Jonathan Tobin notes in a column headlined “Sorry, but It’s Not Racist to Screen out Migrants Who’ll Be a Burden,” was made clear in our first immigration law, the Immigration Act of 1882.
It stipulated that immigrants who could not take care of themselves be denied entry. A foundation of immigration law was that immigrants must be able to take of themselves and not become a burden on the taxpayer. This makes sense.
Trump’s plan makes a slight change: formerly receiving welfare payments was the only impediment but now it will be receiving such assistance as food stamps and other benefits of an increasingly ubiquitous public assistance system.
Even if you don’t share administration hard-liners’ desire to cut back legal immigration, emphasizing merit is a common-sense concern that is supported by most Americans. Our culture is rooted in self-sufficiency and individual initiative. Our immigration system should reflect our national creed.
Critics complain that this will discourage legal immigrants from seeking assistance that they might need. But the Trump administration wants to shift our immigration system to one based on merit, like the ones that reign in Canada and many European countries.
Tobin suggests that the system be administered in a way that does not harm immigrants who came here with every intention of working and being independent but have fallen on hard times.
It is not surprising that critics insist that this is a racist plan. That is just about the only way to frame it so that it would appeal to the hard-working taxpayer who doesn’t want new burdens added to her IRS bill.
And of course—racism is how the left frames just about every argument now. Barton Swaim has a terrific piece in today’s Wall Street Journal comparing those who cry racism with every breath to the Obama-era birthers. Neither group can be persuaded by logic.
But I am imagining that the over-burdened American taxpayer is susceptible to logic—and also to the ideals of a nation of immigrants who come here to become independent.