Prof: Trump's immigration policies fueled by 'racist nativism'

An education professor at the University of Minnesota recently argued that concerns over immigration’s impact on on the U.S. are rooted in “racist nativism.”

According to Bic Ngo, a professor in the department of Curriculum and Education at UM, “popular discourses allege that when immigrants come to the United States, they take advantage of welfare benefits, take jobs from Americans, act as a drain on the economy, bring crime to communities, and refuse to learn English.”

Yet in an August 10 article published in a special issue of the journal Educational Studies, Ngo chalks those concerns up to a “racist nativism” that she says “has long been a part of U.S. history,” but which “was most recently linked specifically to the American Dream in Donald Trump’s (successful) presidential bid.”

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“As immigrants are positioned as outsiders and scapegoats for the disorders of US society, whites are constructed as the native population with a legitimate place in the country,” she elaborates. “Subsequently, Trump suggested the United States could be made great again with his immigration plan to deport undocumented immigrants and regulate Muslim (and other) immigrants.”

Ngo then takes her argument a step further, claiming that Trump’s rhetoric is rooted in the country’s history of “anti-immigrant legislation and sentiments.”

As proof, she cites the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration Act of 1924 (which restricted immigration from Asia and Southern/Eastern Europe), and notes that “multiple states have attempted or passed legislation (e.g., Oklahoma, North Carolina, Texas) banning sharia (Islamic law) from application or implementation in the U.S. courts.”

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Similarly, Ngo posits that “the rise of right-wing nationalism” at least partially explains the push for stricter immigration policies, saying it has “fomented nativist policies that assault immigrant rights and liberties.”

Among such policies, Ngo points to Trump’s popular proposal to build a wall along America’s southern border and his consideration of creating a Muslim registry, asserting that Trump “aims to revive the American Dream through an instantiation of whiteness and global isolation.”

The job of educators in Trump’s America, she concludes, is to work towards “providing spaces for the interrogation of the politics of immigrant culture and belonging in education as well as toward the development of pedagogies that deeply engage and embrace a multiracial future, opening up opportunities for immigrants to also ‘sing America.’”

Campus Reform reached out to Ngo for elaboration on her arguments, but did not receive a response.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen