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Born in the U.S.A.

Summary:
Today, Mr. Trump tweeted about four congresspersons of color: ….viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back… It needs to be emphasized that this statement is part of a continuing Trump program to characterize non-caucasian Americans as “un-American” or “foreign”, even when born in the United States. Of “The Squad”, Ayanna Pressley was born in Chicago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  was born in NYC, and Rashida Tlaib was born in Detroit. Only Ilhan Omar is not native born American (Somalia). There is a long tradition of America welcoming (intermittently) immigrants and refugees from foreign shores, but as we know, Mr. Trump does not subscribe to that view (unless they come from

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Today, Mr. Trump tweeted about four congresspersons of color:

….viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back…

It needs to be emphasized that this statement is part of a continuing Trump program to characterize non-caucasian Americans as “un-American” or “foreign”, even when born in the United States. Of “The Squad”, Ayanna Pressley was born in Chicago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez  was born in NYC, and Rashida Tlaib was born in Detroit. Only Ilhan Omar is not native born American (Somalia). There is a long tradition of America welcoming (intermittently) immigrants and refugees from foreign shores, but as we know, Mr. Trump does not subscribe to that view (unless they come from Norway, apparently).

If you are inclined to give Mr. Trump some slack, allowing that he just might not have realized these individuals were born in the United States (after all, I truly believe he didn’t know Puerto Rico was part of America when Hurricane Maria struck), the fact that he has stated a desire to eliminate birthright citizenship points to a darker intent. From NYT:

President Trump said he was preparing an executive order that would nullify the long-accepted constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship in the United States, his latest attention-grabbing maneuver days before midterm congressional elections as he has sought to activate his base by vowing to clamp down on immigrants and immigration.

“We’re the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years, with all of those benefits,” Mr. Trump told Axios during an interview that was released in part on Tuesday, making a false claim. “It’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. And it has to end.”

As a matter of record, Mr. Trump is wrong in his characterization of the uniqueness of the US and birthright citizenship; there are at least 30 countries that also grant some form of birthright citizenship. See also this post.

Menzie Chinn
He is Professor of Public Affairs and Economics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

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