Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

As Ron Brownstein points out, the real goal behind the immigration plan that Republican Sens. David Perdue of Georgia and Tom Cotton of Arkansas are floating is an overall sharp reduction in legal immigration. That this is couched in a preference for high-skilled labor shouldn’t mask that their bill would reduce the influx of high-skillet workers, too. Yet, as Brownstein also points out, the country needs a healthy level of immigration to help pay for our entitlement programs and to meet our overall employment needs. So, one of the primary problems with the Perdue-Cotton approach is that it would set immigration levels too low. As a result, even many moderate or centrist Republicans don’t see their approach as feasible or desirable.

Of course, the problem driving this call for reduced immigration is that most immigrants these days are not white. If, as President Trump has suggested, we could convince more people from white countries like Norway to immigrate, then we wouldn’t see this resistance to reasonable immigration levels. Unfortunately for people like Trump, Perdue, and Cotton, there just aren’t that many Europeans who want to immigrate to the United States. And, that being the case, they’d rather cause a deficit in labor than permit the browning of America to continue apace.

The president is willing to say this until he decides he wants to deny having said it. But the outrage his comments sparked shows just how unpopular these sentiments are to most Americans. That’s why the policy proposals are always disguised. They’re about preventing terrorism. They’re about reducing crime. They’re about combatting drug addiction. They’re about protecting the taxpayer. They’re about preferring high-skilled labor or “the best people” over a bunch of losers who just looking for a handout.

What you’re never supposed to say is that it’s about making America white again. You’re not supposed to say “we want Norwegians, not brown people from shithole countries.”

The thing is, even for the people who want Norwegians, they don’t have a plan for attracting enough of them. And this is typical from Republicans. There are host of areas where their policy is based on fantasy. Why don’t people just avoid getting pregnant if they don’t want a baby? Why don’t people just make enough money that they can afford to pay for their health insurance? Why don’t people just move if they can’t find a good job or their schools are no good?

They never account for people’s limitations or frailties or simple misfortunes. Therefore, their policies don’t account for things like “that’s never going to happen” or “you have to be crazy to think that will work.”

It’s always, “if people would just do x, then we wouldn’t have this problem.” Except people aren’t going to do x. White Europeans aren’t going to immigrate here in the numbers we need. Their racism is as impractical as it is immoral.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at