Immigration

Trump's Staged Naturalization Ceremony Does Not Make Him a Friend of Immigrants

He has done everything in his power to stop immigrants from gaining citizenship.

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This year's carefully staged, semi-virtual Republican National Convention (RNC) featured footage of President Donald Trump performing a naturalization ceremony in the White House, politicizing what is a sacred right of passage for immigrants. But even as he inducted five hand-picked immigrants into full citizenship and showered them with praise, he has gone out of his way to dismantle the citizenship program for hundreds of thousands of others.

Two of the immigrants did not know until minutes before the ceremony that Trump would attend much less that it would be later aired at the RNC. They subsequently said they didn't mind, but it would have been nice to at least give them the option of exercising their newfound political freedom and letting them have a say in whether they wanted to be used as props for the president's re-election campaign. In his remarks, Trump himself pointed out that the immigrants had "followed the rules" and "obeyed the laws" and earned the right to become citizens. But what he didn't mention was just how hard he was working to prevent others from getting to the same place—including doubling the naturalization fee (from $640 to $1,160) and the processing time. That, however, is the least of it.

To date, Trump has not only cracked down on unauthorized immigration—ratcheting up enforcement both at the border and the interior—he has also placed nearly insurmountable boulders on every path to legal immigration. He has slashed the refugee quota from 85,000 to 18,000 and is not even filling that. He has turned the asylum program into a cruel joke, separating migrant moms from babies as a deterrence measure. New reporting by finds that even considered "extreme action" against Central American migrants such as shooting "heat-rays" to make their skin feel like it is burning when they came close to the border—not to mention spikes on the wall, a moat filled with snakes, and shooting migrants in the legs . He has slowed family-based immigration to a crawl. Not even the H-1B program for high-skilled foreign professionals, which literally no one except for the most extreme restrictionists doubts is an unmitigated boon for the country, has been spared.

And that was before the pandemic. In April, Trump first hit a two-month pause on every category of legal immigration except for spouses and minor children of American citizens. Then he extended the pause to the end of this year.

But the most chilling aspect of Trump's anti-immigration agenda might be its assaults on the naturalization program. Between 2016 and 2019, according to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, the administration's denial rate for military naturalizations had increased 143 percent (from 7 percent to 17 percent). And the number of immigrants in the military who naturalized dropped by more than half between the same time period. Why? Because the administration made active duty immigrants—people willing to die for this country—ineligible for an expedited path to citizenship. Since then, a court has asked the administration to reinstate that path.

And then there is Operation Second Look, his effort to strip immigrants of their citizenship. Before Trump launched this program last year, the only people who faced denaturalization were Nazis and war criminals who had lied about their past on their citizenship applications. But the Trump administration has created a task force that would make denaturalization a priority. This means that potentially 17 million naturalization petitions approved between 1990 and 2016 might be reviewed for omissions or misrepresentations. One naturalized citizen that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has targeted is a Pakistani man who has lived in America for three decades, is married to an American woman and has three American kids. His crime? He failed to reveal on his naturalization application that he had been ordered deported in absentia for an asylum hearing. (He claims he didn't show up because he didn't receive notification.) Acting Director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli has already referred over 1,600 naturalized citizens for possible prosecution. The last time America went down anything resembling this path was during the McCarthy era when it tried to take away the citizenship of communists and subversives. However, even that effort didn't have a reach as broad as this one where almost every naturalized citizen can be targeted, basically reducing him or her to a less secure, second-class status.

Where will the administration obtain funds for Operation Second Look given that Congress is refusing to appropriate money for it? By reallocating them from the immigration application fee account. This account was already running low because it covers 95 percent of its funding through visa fees and last year, thanks to Trump's anti-immigration slams, the agency received 1 million fewer applications, Los Angeles Times Molly O' Toole reported. The upshot was that even before the pandemic hit, the agency was facing a $1.3 billion budgetary shortfall.

But given the post-COVID immigration pause, these visa fees have dried up completely and things have gotten much worse for those wishing to get naturalized.

At first, the USCIS completely shut down the naturalization program because it claimed that it could not conduct in-person interviews or hold naturalization ceremonies safely. It's unclear why officials didn't turn to virtual means to administer citizenship oaths. Although it has reinstated the program partially now, it still insists that it cannot restart it fully because it does not have the necessary funds to bring back all the naturalization officers and other personnel it has furloughed.

The result is that at this point over 100,000 immigrants whose applications have already been approved are waiting to take the oath and become U.S. citizens. Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship, estimated that about 2,100 immigrants run out of time to vote each day USCIS offices remain closed, one reason why some Pennsylvania immigrants have sued the agency. Even some Republicans are getting alarmed that the administration is deliberately dragging its feet to prevent these immigrants from getting the right to vote in November. A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Marco Rubio (R–Fla.) and Martin Heinrich (D–N.M.), both sons of naturalized citizens, sent a letter in May to Cuccinelli asking him to "take all necessary measures" to enable naturalizations to proceed, including holding virtual ceremonies. Many are also urging the administration to stop diverting funding to detect alleged fraud among naturalized citizens and focus instead on expediting their naturalization applications. So far, however, there is little sign that the administration is listening.

All of this adds up to a president who is no friend of immigrants. For the president to serenade newly naturalized immigrants at the staged White House ceremony and then use the footage as a campaign prop was nothing less than sheer chutzpah.

 

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  1. Trump’s wife is an immigrant. She’s proud to be an American.
    Those immigrants at the RNC are proud to become Americans.
    And yes, Trump is proud to grant the citizenship.
    It was a political but highly personal moment for everyone involved.

    Shika, on the other hand, doesn’t give a shit about real people, immigrants or not.
    She cares about herself and her ideology exclusively.
    And I dare say she’s not proud to be American

    1. It is amazing watching people like Shikha unable to understand the difference between co trolled immigration and uncontrolled immigration. Apparently 1+ million a year doesn’t count. Unless you’re for unlimited you’re a racist. Who cares about all the possible externalities.

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      2. The Solution is easy – you can come if you want, but there will be ZERO (as in NO) freebies of any sort, including school for your kids. Commit even the most meager crime, and you are in prison and then deported.

        Absent the freebies, you would have welcome committees sitting at the border twiddling their thumbs. That is largely the draw.

        It also would help if we stopped fucking with their countries on behalf of Korporate Amerika.

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      3. who is this rotten brown bitch street shitter shikha? why did they even let that white hating witch into the country anyway

      4. This is possibly the worst article I’ve ever read on Reason.
        The H 1 visa program is corporate welfare of the worst kind!
        It displaces highly skilled American coders in favor of Lower paid, mostly Indian workers who are forbidden to change employers.

        I also thought the naturalization ceremony was touching.

    2. Fascinating! How do you know all of this Nardz?

      1. Because it’s obvious to anyone who’s not a leftist asshole consumed by hate?

        1. “asshole consumed by hate”

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      Yeah, we need more like her here

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  2. Damning Trump for being insufficiently friendly to immigrants despite showing support for them is entirely helpful to his reelection campaign. It’s the answer to the thorny question, “How do we soften our image by showing support for immigrants without alienating the anti-immigration people in our base?”

    The solution is to show just enough support for immigrants to provoke TDS victims in the press to damn President Trump for being insufficiently supportive of immigration. On the one hand, swing voters get to see him being friendly to immigrants, but on the other hand, his anti-immigration base won’t despise him for it–because if the press is lambasting him for being anti-immigration, then, in their estimation, he can’t be all bad.

    P.S. When Trump tells them not to jump, they say, “How high?”. It makes them so easy to control.

      1. Now do Mostly Peaceful but fiery Protests

  3. Although Ms. Dalmia hit her word limit before she could mention it, Drumpf’s immigration restrictions are bad in another important way: they negatively impact the net worth of Charles Koch, the billionaire who funds Reason.com.

    Now you might be asking “Aren’t American billionaires doing OK, even during this pandemic? I mean, Jeff Bezos just crossed $200 billion. Plus Gates and Zuckerberg and Musk and Ballmer and Page and Brin and Ellison and the Waltons have all increased their wealth since January.”

    While that’s true, it’s also true that Mr. Koch’s business is more dependent on unlimited, unrestricted immigration of highly skilled labor — especially from Mexico. Without this key labor force, Mr. Koch might have to hire American-born employees. And he absolutely hates doing that.

    #OpenTheBordersToHelpCharlesKoch

  4. I guess it must hurt the writer of this tripe that more and more people are becoming aware of the difference between President Trump and his political opponents.

    Trump is all for highly motivated and qualified immigrants, while his opponents want uncontrolled immigration and endless amounts of welfare simultaneously. An actual libertarian understands the reason why we can’t have both of the latter two policies.

  5. It is amazing watching people like Shikha unable to understand the difference between co trolled immigration and uncontrolled immigration. Apparently 1+ million a year doesn’t count. Unless you’re for unlimited you’re a racist. Who cares about all the possible externalities. موقع تفاصيل

  6. Oh, fuck off already, Shikha. We know, you want open borders and probably want us to pay the freight to get more immigrants here faster.

    I’d even be OK with open borders, as long as we’d gotten rid of everything else first.

    1. You can have open borders or you can have a social safety net, but you cannot have both.

  7. Now do Obama firing a shotgun.

      1. Cheyney shot a lawyer in the face. He’s an OK guy.

      2. rather hunt w/Cheney than ride w/Ted Kennedy

        1. The Kennedys do have a higher body count if you exclude Darth Cheney’s weather control device.

    1. Et tu with the whataboutism? This article isn’t about Obama.

  8. thought it was nice.

  9. Nothing can ever be good enough for people who live only to complain.

  10. SSDD. Maybe if Dalmia would learn the difference between legal and illegal immigration she would quit writing these stupid propaganda pieces and quit embarrassing herself and this declining site.

    1. I know…Shreika has only one schtick. It gets old.

  11. It was a nice touch. Shireky can’t understand.

  12. Just came here to tell Dalmia to fuck off. That is all.

    1. It’s like ritualized sex. Without the messy cleanup.

  13. Forcing people to live and work on specific sides of imaginary lines: that’s violence.

    1. I’ll be setting up my RV in your front yard tomorrow

      1. I need to borrow a hose

      2. National borders are not private property lines.

      3. better have stars and bars.

      4. “Shitter was full!”

        Wait, that’s Tijuana’s line. They still dumping raw sewage into the Pacific?

  14. You seem to be taking the position that allowing illegal immigration is the right thing to do. That the government should turn a blind eye and allow illegal border crossings and allow people to come to the country and stay here illegally.

    I assume that you take this position because you think this is the right and just thing to do.

    It is not.

    Allowing illegal immigration is very explicitly immoral. Being here illegally means you cannot work legally, cannot become a citizen, cannot count on law enforcement to protect you… it relegates you to a permanent subclass.

    This is evil. This is not something any civil libertarian should ever support.

    Supporting the expansion and streamlining of legal immigration is an entirely different matter.

    Ideally, we should have much more legal immigration, and zero illegal immigration.

    Conflating the two is beneath us. That is for mendacious politicians who want to use racist leanings to inspire their voters.

    Civil libertarians understand the difference. We understand that being an illegal alien creates a vulnerable subclass, ripe for exploitation. We understand that legal immigration makes us stronger. Legal immigration lifts the country up. It makes us better.

    This is one of those “stay off my side” moments. Illegal immigration is not a good thing. People should not have to live under those conditions.

    The solution to that problem is not railing against enforcement of immigration law. That’s stupid. The solution is working toward changing the law and increasing the numbers and simplicity of legal immigration.

    1. Supporting the expansion and streamlining of legal immigration is an entirely different matter.

      Additionally, if you eliminate the economic programs that constitute the welfare and nanny state, the social/cultural distinctions between natives, legal, and illegal immigrants gets intrinsicaly weaker as well. Doubly so if you eleminate such programs on both sides of the border.

      Otherwise, it’s like living in a run down shithouse that butts up against a mansion and pretending like if you take the fence down, the shithouse will somehow get better without making the mansion shittier. It either assumes (more) theft or doesn’t happen by any obvious causal manner.

    2. You seem to be taking the position that allowing illegal immigration is the right thing to do. That the government should turn a blind eye and allow illegal border crossings and allow people to come to the country and stay here illegally.

      On top of that, she takes the position that enabling open borders or illegal immigration is “good for immigrants”. Speaking as an immigrant: the policies Shikha advocates are not good for immigrants, either in the short term or in the long term.

  15. Trump’s Staged Naturalization Ceremony

    Are there unstaged naturalization ceremonies happening somewhere?

    1. Exactly! Name me one un-staged ceremony.

      1. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Pelosi and Schumer have been having Kente cloth Thursdays every week for years.

  16. There should be a set number of immigration slots and they should be auctioned off every year. That’s the capitalist way.

  17. Since Trump supporters have no values other than rank tribalism and bigotry, they know full well that this photo op was just that and not some kind of endorsement of immigration or diversity. The more he lies, the more they soil themselves in glee over the thought of how hard he owned the libtards. And everyone here is surprised that he’s terrible at his actual job.

    1. Since Trump supporters have no values other than rank tribalism and bigotry, they know full well that this photo op was just that and not some kind of endorsement of immigration or diversity.

      Correct. Trump doesn’t endorse “immigration” or “diversity” per se. Immigration is good only if it serves the interests of Americans.

      And everyone here is surprised that he’s terrible at his actual job.

      True, but not as terrible as his predecessors. Not as terrible as Biden/Harris with their dismal records.

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      2. Arguing about which shade of brown shit you prefer is really not too impressive.

        1. Biden/Harris are proto fascists. Trump is a moderate. I think that’s a huge difference.

    2. Angry projection isn’t very persuasive, you bitter old fool.

    3. No, I am surprised that you think you know something, but can’t see that the two parties pander to the same groups, and work hard to keep the rabble fighting while the stuff that affects EVERYONE, namely endless war, currency devaluation, and serving the 1% and corporate interests continue unabated regardless of which party is in office.

      Obama did nothing to change ANY of that – prosecuted no banksters, ramped up more war, didn’t do anything to the war criminal GW Bush, was a war criminal himself, did the bidding of the elites, handed the insurance companies a gold-plated gift, and now he’s getting paid for it.

      The country is going to hell and all anyone wants to talk about is the village idiot in the WH, while the 2 parties fight over who gets to hold the wheel as the damn bus goes over the cliff.

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  19. Did Dalmia admit that Obama put immigrant kids in cages? No? Interesting.

  20. Is it at all surprising that Dalmia would use the word ‘sacred’ to describe a government ceremony?

  21. Trump’s Staged Naturalization Ceremony Does Not Make Him a Friend of Immigrants

    All ceremonies, by definition, are staged.

    He has done everything in his power to stop immigrants from gaining citizenship.

    Too bad he was too late for you.

  22. So not only is illegal immigration good, but legal immigration is bad? I mean, those people were real immigrants, right? Or by “staged” is she implying these people are actors, and not real immigrants? It’s all very telling.

    1. By “staged” she seems to be implying that no one was naturalized for the past 3 and half years, until the President decided to accept a couple of lucky applicants so he could tape the ceremony for propaganda.

      1. By “staged” she’s implying that he’s uniquely using people as props for political purposes. For someone who’s so “unique” he sure behaves an awful lot like every politician that’s ever come before him.

    2. They’re actors!?!?! Somebody call Alex Jones’ big red Batman phone with the hot scoop.

  23. My wife is an immigrant (legal of course – cost me a good bit to get her here) and I have begged her not to become a US citizen, and we hope to leave this crumbling empire.

    Becoming a citizen (or holding a green card for 8 years) means you have the IRS up your ass for the rest of your life even if you no longer live here, and in the latter case even if you are not a citizen and no longer live here. Fuck that…couldn’t do that to someone I care about.

    Citizenship-based taxation as opposed to residence-based taxation is perverse, immoral, and unethical.

    1. “Citizenship-based taxation as opposed to residence-based taxation is perverse, immoral, and unethical.”

      I think that’s why the IRS is in charge of it.

  24. “Not even the H-1B program for high-skilled foreign professionals, which literally no one except for the most extreme restrictionists doubts is an unmitigated boon for the country, has been spared.”

    Personally I think employers should be able to hire anyone from anywhere to work wherever, but there are a lot of unemployed American-born engineers who aren’t “the most extreme restrictionists”, who might disagree that H-1B is an unmitigated boon.

    And for the non-libertarians worried about foreign born workers taking American jobs, they should be for unskilled immigrants who are ambitious and willing to do any kind of work, and not so excited about highly skilled immigrants who will compete with them for the higher paying jobs.

  25. Yet it’s always been the Democrats who have ACTUALLY made it more difficult for legal immigration or naturalization.

    When an illegal alien is protected by the same government which forces legal immigrants through years and tens of thousands of dollars in fees — and then might not grant entry — the system is clearly intended to give jobs to people in the system, and votes to people who will keep them there.

    A friend of mine was at the sixth(!) appointment for a meeting with the immigration people at the US Embassy in Manila, trying to bring his wife of 12 years into the US. A clerk at the Embassy was bringing his new wife to meet all of his co-workers . . .and to walk her papers through the process. Within an hour, she was approved (less time than my friends waited past their scheduled time to meet with one of the people who signed off on the clerk’s wife), and they were on their way to the airport for their Hawai’i honeymoon.

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  28. Let’s see who’s willing to endure the litmus test: we’ll make this personal. Sponsored immigration, family. You have to take in the whole extended family for two years. The odd Uncle Ernesto who when toked up likes to fondle the pre-teenies. Or crazy Tia Frederica who hears voices and sometimes fights with them.

    Who’s game for this?

  29. He has done everything in his power to stop ILLEGAL immigrants from gaining citizenship.

    Get that.

    Accept that.

    Or just shut your idiot mouth.

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