Memo Contradicts Ross’s Rationale for Adding Citizenship Question to Census

The truth will out but whether it will be consequential is another matter:

The Trump White House produces no shortage of eye-catching, headline-grabbing acts of malfeasance. Brazenly blatant acts of corruption, titillating tell-alls from the president’s porn-star paramours, and proto-authoritarian Twitter tantrums are constantly competing for limited headline space.

And yet, this administration is arguably most dangerous when it’s at its most boring. In the dull, gray innards of the federal bureaucracies, Donald Trump’s minions are making profoundly consequential (and, in many cases, deeply corrupt) decisions that will never make the “A block” of a single cable news show.

And no set of decisions has broader potential implications for our democracy than those the Commerce Department has made regarding the 2020 census.

The U.S. government’s decennial attempt to count every human being within its borders might seem like one of Uncle Sam’s most anodyne activities. But when those overseeing the count belong to a political movement that explicitly regards demographic change as its enemy — and disenfranchising Democratic constituencies as fair game — the Census can begin to resemble an ominous enterprise. Census data shapes the contours of political districts, and determines each state’s clout in the Electoral College. It dictates what proportion of federal funding for schools, roads, and libraries each state is entitled to. Thus, if a Republican administration found a facially neutral way of systematically undercounting residents in Democratic-leaning areas, it could inflate red America’s (already disproportionate) influence over our political system.

And the Trump administration appeared to be doing just that last March, when it decided to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 census. By that point, the White House had already (unsuccessfully) attempted to put a leading proponent of GOP gerrymandering (who had no experience managing a large bureaucracy) in charge of overseeing the Census, while refusing to hire noncitizen Census-takers for the purpose of reaching immigrant communities. Meanwhile, Census Bureau researchers had already warned that test surveys were prompting “unprecedented” levels of concern from immigrants, who feared that providing the government with information about themselves would result in their deportation. Census data cannot be legally used for immigration enforcement. But, for understandable reasons, undocumented immigrants weren’t eager to bet their capacity to live in the United States on the Trump administration’s commitment to the letter of the law.

Thus, the Commerce Department’s decision to ask Census respondents about their citizenship status, for the first time since 1950, looked like a deliberate attempt to exacerbate this problem. And if the citizenship question did, in fact, depress undocumented immigrants’ participation in the Census — and thereby, lead the federal government to systematically undercount them — there would be obvious benefits to the GOP: Most undocumented immigrants live in Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas, so the fewer of them the government counts, the greater the share of federal money and political influence that rural, Republican-leaning areas will receive.

And the GOP had another, equally controversial incentive for surveying the American public about their citizenship. The judiciary has long insisted that U.S. House districts must be drawn on the basis of total population — not total voters — so that children, prisoners, undocumented immigrants, and others who lack access to the ballot are provided with indirect representation. But some conservative groups have mulled drawing state and local districts on the basis of eligible voters (ostensibly, so as to minimize the influence that godless city slickers wield over state capitols). In 2016, the Supreme Court indicated that it might approve of such a practice. But without Census data on citizens and noncitizens, red states would have no means of giving voters-only districting a try.

Still, the Trump administration insisted that its decision to alter the Census was rooted in only the purest of motives — specifically, a heartfelt desire to protect the voting rights of African-Americans. In congressional testimony, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross explained that his bureau only began considering the citizenship question after the Department of Justice indicated that it needed such information to fully enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Of course, the idea that Jeff Sessions was desperate for new tools he could use in lawsuits against southern states with racially discriminatory political practices never passed the smell test. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of American politics knew that Ross was “trolling the libs.”Still, it wasn’t clear whether the administration’s bad faith could be proven. And this was an important distinction — because if advocates for immigrant communities could establish, through documentary evidence, that the Trump administration had a discriminatory intent when it added the citizenship question to the Census, they just might be able to get a court to strike it down.

And on Monday, New York attorney general Barbara Underwood revealed what appears to be a smoking gun. As part of her lawsuit challenging the Census question, Underwood publicly filed a newly unredacted internal Commerce Department memo, which reveals that the Justice Department (DOJ) did not initiate the request for the citizenship question — but rather, resisted Commerce’s initial attempts to extract such a request from it.

Now, the DOJ did issue a formal request for a question about citizenship status in December of 2017 — but only after the Commerce Department had spent months lobbying for such a request. As NPR reports:

[M]emos and emails released previously as part of the lawsuits over the question already have contradicted Ross’ testimony. They make clear that Ross was eager to add the question shortly after he was confirmed as commerce secretary in February 2017 … Earl Comstock — a key Commerce Department official on census-related issues — first approached Justice Department officials in May 2017. Comstock eventually discussed the issue with James McHenry, a Justice Department official working on immigration issues who now oversees the immigration courts as the head of the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

“Justice staff did not want to raise the question given the difficulties Justice was encountering in the press at the time (the whole Comey matter),” Comstock wrote to Ross in a newly unredacted portion of the memo, which is dated Sept. 8, 2017.

With the DOJ looking to avoid controversy amid the fallout from Trump’s firing of James Comey, the Commerce Department began searching for other agencies that might force it to ask U.S. residents about their citizenship. The memo reveals that Comstock sought a request from the Department of Homeland Security, only to have DHS refer him back to the DOJ. Comstock then directed an attorney at the Commerce Department “to look into the legal issues and how Commerce could add the question to the Census itself,” according to a previously redacted portion of the memo.

All of which is to say: On Monday, the state of New York ostensibly revealed that the Commerce Secretary lied to Congress about his rationale for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census — a development that lends credence to the claim that the Trump administration is deliberately trying to engineer an inaccurate count of the U.S. population in hopes of consolidating their party’s grip on power through anti-democratic means.

And this wasn’t enough to qualify as headline news.

Source: Memo Contradicts Ross’s Rationale for Adding Citizenship Question to Census

Trump administration draws fire for ‘misleading’ report linking terrorism, immigration

Yet another case of a misleading and wrong report by the Trump administration:

Eighteen former counterterrorism officials are urging the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to retract or correct a report that implies a link between terrorism and immigration, calling its findings ‘‘misleading’’ and counterproductive.

Released in January, the report says that 402 of the 549 people — almost 3 of every 4 — convicted of terrorism charges since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were foreign-born. That’s a data point that President Trump has highlighted as justification for his administration’s hard-line immigration policies — namely his desire to shift from a ‘‘random chain migration and lottery system, to one that is merit-based,’’ as he has tweeted.

But critics dubious of the report’s conclusions have said it relies on irrelevant and in some cases flawed data.

Failure to correct the document is likely to undermine counterterrorism efforts by fueling misperceptions about the nature of radicalization and stoking societal divisions around immigration, according to a letter released Thursday by the former government officials, including former National Counterterrorism Center directors Nicholas Rasmussen and Matthew Olsen, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., and former acting assistant attorney general for national security Mary McCord.

‘‘Overall,’’ their letter says, ‘‘the report appears designed to give the misleading impression that immigrants — and even their citizen family members — are responsible for the vast majority of terrorist attacks that have occurred in the United States.’’

The report was written to comply with an executive order Trump issued in March 2017 banning citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Katie Waldman, a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, said the agency is ‘‘focused on anticipating terrorist trends and movements and, more importantly, blocking all terrorist pathways into the United States.’’

She said ‘‘as recently as last month, US authorities arrested an Iraqi refugee in California — wanted for murder in Iraq — who is alleged to have been a member of both [the Islamic State] and Al Qaeda. We cannot let dangerous individuals slip through the cracks and exploit our refugee program.’’

The former counterterrorism officials’ letter was written in support of an appeal to be filed Thursday by several advocacy groups that sued the two agencies in federal court in Oakland and Boston. The organizations are seeking a retraction or correction under a little-known law, the Information Quality Act.

The courts stayed the lawsuits when the agencies answered the plaintiffs, with the Justice Department saying in July that the plaintiffs’ charge that the report perpetuates a biased narrative is ‘‘a subjective conclusion’’ based on their interpretation of the report.

The DHS in August said the plaintiffs did not ‘‘specifically challenge the accuracy of the data’’ but rather requested that it be retracted to ‘‘correct the misimpression’’ that it supposedly created.

Critics say the conviction data should not include roughly 100 foreign-born individuals detained overseas and extradited to the United States to be tried for alleged crimes committed abroad.

Moreover, said Ben Berwick, an attorney for Protect Democracy, according to data provided by the Justice Department under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, at least 189 of the individuals included in the total of 549 convicted were caught up in an international-terrorism investigation but not charged with an offense directly related to terrorism. It is unclear how many of these people were born overseas or in the United States, he said.

‘‘This is a government report claiming to make factual assertions,’’ he said, ‘‘and it’s really clear that the data is questionable and the use of the data is questionable.’’

The key issue with the report, said Joshua Geltzer, a former National Security Council senior director for counterterrorism, is it emphasizes a person’s place of birth as a ‘‘meaningful predictor’’ of terrorist activity rather than understanding the radicalization process.

‘‘There are US citizens born and bred here who unfortunately radicalize, too,’’ said Geltzer, now at Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.

The report says that 147 individuals convicted of international-terrorism charges were US citizens by birth. But much of it details cases involving people born overseas who entered the United States through the immigration process or as refugees.

The former officials’ letter said the report plays into terrorists’ hands, noting that ‘‘one particularly common way for terrorists to attempt to weaken their stronger adversaries is to sow discord and prod them into turning on themselves.’’ Echoing language used in the debate over how to deter Russian interference in US democracy, the letter said that ‘‘cultivating resilience against terrorism thus relies in part on ensuring that the public accurately understands the real nature of the terrorist threat.’’

The real drivers of terrorism are disaffection, a lack of belonging, ‘‘a grandiose desire to be part of something seen as ‘bigger,’ and a gradual numbing to the humanness of potential victims,’’ the letter said.

‘‘The Trump administration wants to blame the immigration system for things that happened 15 to 20 years after people flowed through the system,’’ Geltzer said. ‘‘That’s a radicalization problem. Not an immigration problem.’’

Source: Trump administration draws fire for ‘misleading’ report linking terrorism, immigration

Against the Ideal of a ‘Melting Pot’ – Written in 1916

Long read, written in 1916. While somewhat dated in terms of examples (e.g., only in context of European immigration) and language, captures well the  distinction between assimilation and integration:

Though the United States would not enter World War I for another year, by 1916 the ethnic animosities tearing Europe apart could be felt keenly within American communities. Immigration rates had soared in the preceding decades—in 1910, nearly 15 percent of the population had been born outside of the United States. The growing number of new arrivals was regarded with resentment and suspicion from many native-born Americans. As the conflict unfolded overseas, those feelings only intensified.

The progressive writer Randolph S. Bourne recognized the rising tension, and in July 1916 he responded by challenging not only the idea that immigrants posed a threat to American democracy, but also the ideal of a “melting pot” that would assimilate the nation’s diverse population.

“We act as if we wanted Americanization to take place only on our own terms, and not by the consent of the governed,” he wrote. But, he continued, “America shall be what the immigrant will have a hand in making it, and not what a ruling class, descendant of those British stocks which were the first permanent immigrants, decide that America shall be made.”

The bitterness directed toward newcomers would soon thereafter be codified into restrictive new immigration quotas that perpetuated racial and ethnic discrimination. But Bourne offered a hopeful alternative to that ethno-nationalist antagonism, imagining an Americanism that could be broadened, strengthened, and united by embracing persistent cultural differences rather than one that closed itself off to them. — Annika Neklason

No reverberatory effect of the great war has caused American public opinion more solicitude than the failure of the ‘melting-pot.’ The discovery of diverse nationalistic feelings among our great alien population has come to most people as an intense shock. It has brought out the unpleasant inconsistencies of our traditional beliefs. We have had to watch hard-hearted old Brahmins virtuously indignant at the spectacle of the immigrant refusing to be melted, while they jeer at patriots like Mary Antin who write about ‘our forefathers.’ We have had to listen to publicists who express themselves as stunned by the evidence of vigorous nationalistic and cultural movements in this country among Germans, Scandinavians, Bohemians, and Poles, while in the same breath they insist that the mien shall be forcibly assimilated to that Anglo-Saxon tradition which they unquestioningly label ‘American.’

As the unpleasant truth has come upon us that assimilation in this country was proceeding on lines very different from those we had marked out for it, we found ourselves inclined to blame those who were thwarting our prophecies. The truth became culpable. We blamed the war, we blamed the Germans. And then we discovered with a moral shock that these movements had been making great headway before the war even began. We found that the tendency, reprehensible and paradoxical as it might be, has been for the national clusters of immigrants, as they became more and more firmly established and more and more prosperous, to cultivate more and more assiduously the literatures and cultural traditions of their homelands. Assimilation, in other words, instead of washing out the memories of Europe, made them more and more intensely real. Just as these clusters became more and more objectively American, did they become more and more German or Scandinavian or Bohemian or Polish.

To face the fact that our aliens are already strong enough to take a share in the direction of their own destiny, and that the strong cultural movements represented by the foreign press, schools, and colonies are a challenge to our facile attempts, is not, however, to admit the failure of Americanization. It is not to fear the failure of democracy. It is rather to urge us to an investigation of what Americanism may rightly mean. It is to ask ourselves whether our ideal has been broad or narrow—whether perhaps the time has not come to assert a higher ideal than the ‘melting-pot.’ Surely we cannot be certain of our spiritual democracy when, claiming to melt the nations within us to a comprehension of our free and democratic institutions, we fly into panic at the first sign of their own will and tendency. We act as if we wanted Americanization to take place only on our own terms, and not by the consent of the governed. All our elaborate machinery of settlement and school and union, of social and political naturalization, however, will move with friction just in so far as it neglects to take into account this strong and virile insistence that America shall be what the immigrant will have a hand in making it, and not what a ruling class, descendant of those British stocks which were the first permanent immigrants, decide that America shall be made. This is the condition which confronts us, and which demands a clear and general readjustment of our attitude and our ideal.

* * *We are all foreign-born or the descendants of foreign-born, and if distinctions are to be made between us, they should rightly be on some other ground than indigenousness. The early colonists came over with motives no less colonial than the later. They did not come to be assimilated in an American melting pot. They did not come to adopt the culture of the American Indian. They had not the smallest intention of ‘giving themselves without reservation’ to the new country. They came to get freedom to live as they wanted to. They came to escape from the stifling air and chaos of the old world; they came to make their fortune in a new land. They invented no new social framework. Rather they brought over bodily the old ways to which they had been accustomed. Tightly concentrated on a hostile frontier, they were conservative beyond belief. Their pioneer daring was reserved for the objective conquest of material resources. In their folkways, in their social and political institutions, they were, like every colonial people, slavishly imitative of the mother country. So that, in spite of the ‘Revolution,’ our whole legal and political system remained more English than the English, petrified and unchanging, while in England law developed to meet the needs of the changing times.

It is just this English-Americanconservatism that has been our chief obstacle to social advance. We have needed the new peoples—the order of the German and Scandinavian, the turbulence of the Slav and Hun—to save us from our own stagnation. I do not mean that the illiterate Slav is now the equal of the New Englander of pure descent. He is raw material to be educated, not into a New Englander, but into a socialized American along such lines as those thirty nationalities are being educated in the amazing school of Gary. I do not believe that this process is to be one of decades of evolution. The spectacle of Japan’s sudden jump from medievalism to post-modernism should have destroyed the superstition. We are not dealing with individuals who are to ‘evolve.’ We are dealing with their children, who with that education we are about to have, will start level with all of us. Let us cease to think of ideals like democracy as magical qualities inherent in certain peoples. Let us speak, not of inferior races, but of inferior civilizations. We are all to educate and to be educated. These peoples in America are in a common enterprise. It is not what we are now that concerns us, but what this plastic next generation may become in the light of a new cosmopolitan ideal.

We are not dealing with static factors, but with fluid and dynamic generations. To contrast the older and the newer immigrants and see the one class as democratically motivated by love of liberty, and the other by mere money-getting, is not to illuminate the future. To think of earlier nationalities as culturally assimilated to America, while we picture the later as a sodden and resistive mass, makes only for bitterness and misunderstanding. There may be a difference between these earlier and these later stocks, but it lies neither in motive for coming nor in strength of cultural allegiance to the homeland. The truth is that no more tenacious cultural allegiance to the mother country has been shown by any alien nation than by the ruling class of Anglo-Saxon descendants in these American States. English snobberies, English religion, English literary styles, English literary reverences and canons, English ethics, English superiorities, have been the cultural food that we have drunk in from our mothers’ breasts. The distinctively American spirit—pioneer, as distinguished from the reminiscently English—that appears in Whitman and Emerson and James, has had to exist on sufferance alongside of this other cult, unconsciously belittled by our cultural makers of opinion. No country has perhaps had so great indigenous genius which had so little influence on the country’s traditions and expressions. The unpopular and dreaded German-American of the present day is a beginning amateur in comparison with those foolish Anglophiles of Boston and New York and Philadelphia whose reversion to cultural type sees uncritically in England’s cause the cause of Civilization, and, under the guise of ethical indepenence of thought, carries along European traditions which are no more ‘American’ than the German categories themselves.It speaks well for German-American innocence of heart or else for its lack of imagination that it has not turned the hyphen stigma into a ‘Tu quoque!’ If there were to be any hyphens scattered about, clearly they should be affixed to those English descendants who had had centuries of time to be made American where the German had had only half a century. Most significantly has the war brought out of them this alien virus, showing them still loving English things, owing allegiance to the English Kultur, moved by English shibboleths and prejudice. It is only because it has been the ruling class in this country that bestowed the epithet that we have not heard copiously and scornfully of ‘hyphenated English Americans.’ But even our quarrels with England have had the bad temper, the extravagance, of family quarrels. The Englishman of to-day nags us and dislikes us in that personal, peculiarly intimate way in which he dislikes the Australian, or as we may dislike our younger brothers. He still thinks of us incorrigibly as ‘colonials.’ America—official, controlling, literary, political America—is still, as a writer recently expressed it, ‘culturally speaking, a self-governing dominion of the British Empire.’

The non-English American can scarcely be blamed if he sometimes thinks of the Anglo-Saxon predominance in America as little more than a predominance of priority. The Anglo-Saxon was merely the first immigrant, the first to found a colony. He has never really ceased to be the descendant of immigrants, nor has he ever succeeded in transforming that colony into a real nation, with a tenacious, richly woven frabric of native culture. Colonials from the other nations have come and settled down beside him. They found no definite native culture which should startle them out of their colonialism, and consequently they looked back to their mother-country, as the earlier Anglo-Saxon immigrant was looking back to his. What has been offered the newcomer has been the chance to learn English, to become a citizen, to salute the flag. And those elements of our ruling classes who are responsible for the public schools, the settlements, all the organizations for amelioration in the cities, have every reason to be proud of the care and labor which they’ve devoted to absorbing the immigrant. His opportunities the immigrant has taken to gladly, with almost pathetic eagerness to make his way in the new land without friction or disturbance. The common language has made not only for the necessary communication, but for all the amenities of life.If freedom means the right to do pretty much as one pleases, so long as one does not interfere with others, the immigrant has found freedom, and the ruling element has been singularly liberal in its treatment of the invading hordes. But if freedom means a democratic cooperation in determining the ideals and purposes and industrial and social institutions of a country, then the immigrant has not been free, and Anglo-Saxon element is guilty of just what every dominant race is guilty of in every European country: the imposition of its own culture upon the minority peoples. The fact that this imposition has been so mild and, indeed, semi-conscious does not alter its quality. And the war has brought out just the degree to which that purpose of ‘Americanizing,’ that is, ‘Anglo-Saxonizing,’ the immigrant has failed.

For the Anglo-Saxon now in his bitterness to turn upon the other peoples, talk about their ‘arrogance,’ scold them for not being melted in a pot which never existed, is to betray the unconscious purpose which lay at the bottom of his heart. It betrays too the possession of a racial jealousy similar to that of which he is now accusing the so called ‘hyphenates.’ Let the Anglo Saxon be proud enough of the heroic toil and heroic sacrifices which moulded the nation. But let him ask himself, if he had had to depend on the English descendants, where he would have been living to-day. To those of us who see in the exploitation of unskilled labor the strident red leit-motif of our civilization, the settling of the country presents a great social drama as the waves of immigration broke over it.

Let the Anglo-Saxon ask himself where he would have been if these races had not come? Let those who feel the inferiority of the non-Anglo-Saxon immigrant contemplate that region of the States which has remained the most distinctively ‘American,’ the South. Let him ask himself whether he would really like to see the foreign hordes Americanized into such an Americanization. Let him ask himself how superior this native civilization is to the great ‘alien’ states of Wisconsin and Minnesota, where Scandinavians, Poles, and Germans have self-consciously labored to preserve their traditional culture, while being outwardly and satisfactorily American. Let him ask himself how much more wisdom, intelligence, industry and social leadership has come out of these alien states than out of all the truly American ones. The South, in fact, while this vast Northern development has gone on, still remains an English colony, stagnant and complacent, having progressed culturally scarcely beyond the early Victorian era. It is culturally sterile because it has had no advantage of cross-fertilization like the Northern states. What has happened in states such as Wisconsin and Minnesota is that strong foreign cultures have struck root in a new and fertile soil. America has meant liberation, and German and Scandinavian political ideas and social energies have expanded to a new potency. The process has not been at all the fancied ‘assimilation’ of the Scandinavian or Teuton. Rather has it been a process of their assimilation of us—I speak as an Anglo-Saxon. The foreign cultures have not been melted down or run together, made into some homogeneous Americanism, but have remained distinct but cooperating to the greater glory and benefit not only of themselves but of all the native ‘Americanism’ around them.* * *

What we emphatically do not want is that these distinctive qualities should be washed out into a tasteless, colorless fluid of uniformity. Already we have far too much of this insipidity, — masses of people who are cultural half-breeds, neither assimilated Anglo-Saxons nor nationals of another culture. Each national colony in this country seems to retain in its foreign press, its vernacular literature, its schools, its intellectual and patriotic leaders, a central cultural nucleus. From this nucleus the colony extends out by imperceptible gradations to a fringe where national characteristics are all but lost. Our cities are filled with these half-breeds who retain their foreign names but have lost the foreign savor. This does not mean that they have actually been changed into New Englanders or MiddleWesterners. It does not mean that they have been really Americanized. It means that, letting slip from them whatever native culture they had, they have substituted for it only the most rudimentary American—the American culture of the cheap newspaper, the ‘movies,’ the popular song, the ubiquitous automobile. The unthinking who survey this class call them assimilated, Americanized. The great American public school has done its work. With these people our institutions are safe. We may thrill with dread at the aggressive hyphenate, but this tame flabbiness is accepted as Americanization. The same moulders of opinion whose ideal is to melt the different races into Anglo-Saxon gold hail this poor product as the satisfying result of their alchemy.

Yet a truer cultural sense would have told us that it is not the self-conscious cultural nuclei that sap at our American life, but these fringes. It is not the Jew who sticks proudly to the faith of his fathers and boasts of that venerable culture of his who is dangerous to America, but the Jew who has lost the Jewish fire and become a mere elementary, grasping animal. It is not the Bohemian who supports the Bohemian schools in Chicago whose influence is sinister, but the Bohemian who has made money and has got into ward politics. Just so surely as we tend to disintegrate these nuclei of nationalistic culture do we tend to create hordes of men and women without a spiritual country, cultural outlaws, without taste, without standards but those of the mob. We sentence them to live on the most rudimentary planes of American life. The influences at the centre of the nuclei are centripetal. They make for the intelligence and the social values which mean an enhancement of life. And just because the foreign-born retains this expressiveness is he likely to be a better citizen of the American community. The influences at the fringe, however, are centrifugal, anarchical. They make for detached fragments of peoples. Those who came to find liberty achieve only license. They become the flotsam and jetsam of American life, the downward undertow of our civilization with its leering cheapness and falseness of taste and spiritual outlook, the absence of mind and sincere feeling which we see in our slovenly towns, our vapid moving pictures, our popular novels, and in the vacuous faces of the crowds on the city street. This is the cultural wreckage of our time, and it is from the fringes of the Anglo-Saxon as well as the other stocks that it falls. America has as yet no impelling integrating force. It makes too easily for this detritus of cultures. In our loose, free country, no constraining national purpose, no tenacious folk-tradition and folk-style hold the people to a line.The war has shown us that not in any magical formula will this purpose be found. No intense nationalism of the European plan can be ours. But do we not begin to see a new and more adventurous ideal? Do we not see how the national colonies in America, deriving power from the deep cultural heart of Europe and yet living here in mutual toleration, freed from the age-long tangles of races, creeds, and dynasties, may work out a federated ideal? America is transplanted Europe, but a Europe that has not been disintegrated and scattered in the transplanting as in some Dispersion. Its colonies live here inextricably mingled, yet not homogeneous. They merge but they do not fuse.

America is a unique sociological fabric, and it bespeaks poverty of imagination not to be thrilled at the incalculable potentialities of so novel a union of men. To seek no other goal than the weary old nationalism, — belligerent, exclusive, inbreeding, the poison of which we are witnessing now in Europe, — is to make patriotism a hollow sham, and to declare that, in spite of our boastings, America must ever be a follower and not a leader of nations.


If we come to find this point of view plausible, we shall have to give up the search for our native ‘American’ culture. With the exception of the South and that New England which, like the Red Indian, seems to be passing into solemn oblivion, there is no distinctively American culture. It is apparently our lot rather to be a federation of cultures. This we have been for half a century, and the war has made it ever more evident that this is what we are destined to remain. This will not mean, however, that there are not expressions of indigenous genius that could not have sprung from any other soil. Music, poetry, philosophy, have been singularly fertile and new. Strangely enough, American genius has flared forth just in those directions which are least understanded of the people. If the American note is bigness, action, the objective as contrasted with the reflective life, where is the epic expression of this spirit? Our drama and our fiction, the peculiar fields for the expression of action and objectivity, are somehow exactly the fields of the spirit which remain poor and mediocre. American materialism is in some way inhibited from getting into impressive artistic form its own energy with which it bursts. Nor is it any better in architecture, the least romantic and subjective of all the arts. We are inarticulate of the very values which we profess to idealize. But in the finer forms—music, verse, the essay, philosophy—the American genius puts forth work equal to any of its contemporaries. Just in so far as our American genius has expressed the pioneer spirit, the adventurous, forward-looking drive of a colonial empire, is it representative of that whole America of the many races and peoples, and not of any partial or traditional enthusiasm. And only as that pioneer note is sounded can we really speak of the American culture. As long as we thought of Americanism in terms of the ‘melting-pot,’ our American cultural tradition lay in the past. It was something to which the new Americans were to be moulded. In the light of our changing ideal of Americanism, we must perpetrate the paradox that our American cultural tradition lies in the future. It will be what we all together make out of this incomparable opportunity of attacking the future with a new key.

Whatever American nationalism turns out to be, it is certain to become something utterly different from the nationalisms of twentieth-century Europe. This wave of reactionary enthusiasm to play the orthodox nationalistic game which is passing over the country is scarcely vital enough to last. We cannot swagger and thrill to the same national self-feeling. We must give new edges to our pride. We must be content to avoid the unnumbered woes that national patriotism has brought in Europe, and that fiercely heightened pride and self-consciousness. Alluring as this is, we must allow our imaginations to transcend this scarcely veiled belligerency. We can be serenely too proud to fight if our pride embraces the creative forces of civilization which armed contest nullifies. We can be too proud to fight if our code of honor transcends that of the schoolboy on the playground surrounded by his jeering mates. Our honor must be positive and creative, and not the mere jealous and negative protectiveness against metaphysical violations of our technical rights. When the doctrine is put forth that in one American flows the mystic blood of all our country’s sacred honor, freedom, and prosperity, so that an injury to him is to be the signal for turning our whole nation into that clan-feud of horror and reprisal which would be war, then we find ourselves back among the musty schoolmen of the Middle Ages, and not in any pragmatic and realistic America of the twentieth century.

* * *We should hold our gaze to what America has done, not what medieval codes of dueling she has failed to observe. We have transplanted European modernity to our soil, without the spirit that inflames it and turns all its energy into mutual destruction. Out of these foreign peoples there has somehow been squeezed the poison. An America, ‘hyphenated’ to bitterness, is somehow non-explosive. For, even if we all hark back in sympathy to a European nation, even if the war has set every one vibrating to some emotional string twanged on the other side of the Atlantic, the effect has been one of almost dramatic harmlessness.

What we have really been witnessing, however unappreciatively, in this country has been a thrilling and bloodless battle of Kulturs. In that arena of friction which has been the most dramatic—between the hyphenated German-American and the hyphenated English-American—there have emerged rivalries of philosophies which show up deep traditional attitudes, points of view which accurately reflect the gigantic issues of the war. America has mirrored the spiritual issues. The vicarious struggle has been played out peacefully here in the mind. We have seen the stout resistiveness of the old moral interpretation of history on which Victorian England thrived and made itself great in its own esteem. The clean and immensely satisfying vision of the war as a contest between right and wrong; the enthusiastic support of the Allies as the incarnation of virtue-on-a-rampage; the fierce envisaging of their selfish national purposes as the ideals of justice, freedom and democracy—all this has been thrown with intensest force against the German realistic interpretations in terms of the struggle for power and the virility of the integrated State. America has been the intellectual battleground of the nations.


The failure of the melting-pot, far from closing the great American democratic experiment, means that it has only just begun. Whatever American nationalism turns out to be, we see already that it will have a color richer and more exciting than our ideal has hitherto encompassed. In a world which has dreamed of internationalism, we find that we have all unawares been building up the first international nation. The voices which have cried for a tight and jealous nationalism of the European pattern are failing. From that ideal, however valiantly and disinterestedly it has been set for us, time and tendency have moved us further and further away. What we have achieved has been rather a cosmopolitan federation of national colonies, of foreign cultures, from whom the sting of devastating competition has been removed. America is already the world-federation in miniature, the continent where for the first time in history has been achieved that miracle of hope, the peaceful living side by side, with character substantially preserved, of the most heterogeneous peoples under the sun. Nowhere else has such contiguity been anything but the breeder of misery. Here, notwithstanding our tragic failures of adjustment, the outlines are already too clear not to give us a new vision and a new orientation of the American mind in the world.

It is for the American of the younger generation to accept this cosmopolitanism, and carry it along with self-conscious and fruitful purpose. In his colleges, he is already getting, with the study of modern history and politics, the modern literatures, economic geography, the privilege of a cosmopolitan outlook such as the people of no other nation of to-day in Europe can possibly secure. If he is still a colonial, he is no longer the colonial of one partial culture, but of many. He is a colonial of the world. Colonialism has grown into cosmopolitanism, and his mother land is no one nation, but all who have anything life-enhancing to offer to the spirit. That vague sympathy which the France of ten years ago was feeling for the world—a sympathy which was drowned in the terrible reality of war—may be the modern American’s, and that in a positive and aggressive sense. If the American is parochial, it is in sheer wantonness or cowardice. His provincialism is the measure of his fear of bogies or the defect of his imagination.Indeed, it is not uncommon for the eager Anglo-Saxon who goes to a vivid American university to-day to find his true friends not among his own race but among the acclimatized German or Austrian, the acclimatized Jew, the acclimatized Scandinavian or Italian. In them he finds the cosmopolitan note. In these youths, foreign-born or the children of foreign-born parents, he is likely to find many of his old inbred morbid problems washed away. These friends are oblivious to the repressions of that tight little society in which he so provincially grew up. He has a pleasurable sense of liberation from the stale and familiar attitudes of those whose ingrowing culture has scarcely created anything vital for his America of to-day. He breathes a larger air. In his new enthusiasms for continental literature, for unplumbed Russian depths, for French clarity of thought, for Teuton philosophies of power, he feels himself citizen of a larger world. He may be absurdly superficial, his outward-reaching wonder may ignore all the stiller and homelier virtues of his Anglo-Saxon home, but he has at least found the clue to that international mind which will be essential to all men and women of good-will if they are ever to save this Western world of ours from suicide. His new friends have gone through a similar evolution. America has burned most of the baser metal also from them. Meeting now with this common American background, all of them may yet retain that distinctiveness of their native cultures and their national spiritual slants. They are more valuable and interesting to each other for being different, yet that difference could not be creative were it not for this new cosmopolitan outlook which America has given them and which they all equally possess.

A college where such a spirit is possible even to the smallest degree, has within itself already the seeds of this international intellectual world of the future. It suggests that the contribution of America will be an intellectual internationalism which goes far beyond the mere exchange of scientific ideas and discoveries and the cold recording of facts. It will be an intellectual sympathy which is not satisfied until it has got at the heart of the different cultural expressions, and felt as they feel. It may have immense preferences, but it will make understanding and not indignation its end. Such a sympathy will unite and not divide.Against the thinly disguised panic which calls itself ‘patriotism’ and the thinly disguised militarism which calls itself ‘preparedness’ the cosmopolitan ideal is set. This does not mean that those who hold it are for a policy of drift. They, too, long passionately for an integrated and disciplined America. But they do not want one which is integrated only for domestic economic exploitation of the workers or for predatory economic imperialism among the weaker peoples. They do not want one that is integrated by coercion or militarism, or for the truculent assertion of a medieval code of honor and of doubtful rights. They believe that the most effective integration will be one which coordinates the diverse elements and turns them consciously toward working out together the place of America in the world-situation. They demand for integration a genuine integrity, a wholeness and soundness of enthusiasm and purpose which can only come when no national colony within our America feels that it is being discriminated against or that its cultural case is being prejudged. This strength of cooperation, this feeling that all who are here may have a hand in the destiny of America, will make for a finer spirit of integration than any narrow ‘Americanism’ or forced chauvinism.

* * *

In this effort we may have to accept some form of that dual citizenship which meets with so much articulate horror among us. Dual citizenship we may have to recognize as the rudimentary form of that international citizenship to which, if our words mean anything, we aspire. We have assumed unquestioningly that mere participation in the political life of the United States must cut the new citizen off from all sympathy with his old allegiance. Anything but a bodily transfer of devotion from one sovereignty to another has been viewed as a sort of moral treason against the Republic. We have insisted that the immigrant whom we welcomed escaping from the very exclusive nationalism of his European home shall forthwith adopt a nationalism just as exclusive, just as narrow, and even less legitimate because it is founded on no warm traditions of his own. Yet a nation like France is said to permit a formal and legal dual citizenship even at the present time. Though a citizen of hers may pretend to cast off his allegiance in favor of some other sovereignty, he is still subject to her laws when he returns. Once a citizen, always a citizen, no matter how many new citizenships he may embrace. And such a dual citizenship seems to us sound and right. For it recognizes that, although the Frenchman may accept the formal institutional framework of his new country and indeed become intensely loyal to it, yet his Frenchness he will never lose. What makes up the fabric of his soul will always be of this Frenchness, so that unless he becomes utterly degenerate he will always to some degree dwell still in his native environment.

Indeed, does not the cultivated American who goes to Europe practice a dual citizenship, which, if not formal, is no less real? The American who lives abroad may be the least expatriate of men. If he falls in love with French ways and French thinking and French democracy and seeks to saturate himself with the new spirit, he is guilty of at least a dual spiritual citizenship. He may be still American, yet he feels himself through sympathy also a Frenchman. And he finds that this expansion involves no shameful conflict within him, no surrender of his native attitude. He has rather for the first time caught a glimpse of the cosmopolitan spirit. And after wandering about through many races and civilizations he may return to America to find them all here living vividly and crudely, seeking the same adjustment that he made. He sees the new peoples here with a new vision. They are no longer masses of aliens, waiting to be ‘assimilated,’ waiting to be melted down into the indistinguishable dough of Anglo-Saxonism. They are rather threads of living and potent cultures, blindly striving to weave themselves into a novel international nation, the first the world has seen. In an Austria-Hungary or a Prussia the stronger of these cultures would be moving almost instinctively to subjugate the weaker. But in America those wills-to-power are turned in a different direction into learning how to live together.Along with dual citizenship we shall have to accept, I think, that free and mobile passage of the immigrant between America and his native land again which now arouses so much prejudice among us. We shall have to accept the immigrant’s return for the same reason that we consider justified our own flitting about the earth. To stigmatize the alien who works in America for a few years and returns to his own land, only perhaps to seek American fortune again, is to think in narrow nationalistic terms. It is to ignore the cosmopolitan significance of this migration. It is to ignore the fact that the returning immigrant is often a missionary to an inferior civilization.This migratory habit has been especially common with the unskilled laborers who have been pouring into the United States in the last dozen years from every country in southeastern Europe. Many of them return to spend their earnings in their own country or to serve their country in war. But they return with an entirely new critical outlook, and a sense of the superiority of American organization to the primitive living around them. This continued passage to and fro has already raised the material standard of labour in many regions of these backward countries. For these regions are thus endowed with exactly what they need, the capital for the exploitation of their natural resources, and the spirit of enterprise. America is thus educating these laggard peoples from the very bottom of society up, awaking vast masses to a new-born hope for the future. In the migratory Greek, therefore, we have not the parasitic alien, the doubtful American asset, but a symbol of that cosmopolitan interchange which is coming, in spite of all war and national exclusiveness.

Only America, by reason of the unique liberty of opportunity and traditional isolation for which she seems to stand, can lead in this cosmopolitan enterprise. Only the American—and in this category I include the migratory alien who has lived with us and caught the pioneer spirit and a sense of new social vistas—has the chance to become that citizen of the world. America is coming to be, not a nationality but a trans-nationality, a weaving back and forth, with the other lands, of many threads of all sizes and colors. Any movement which attempts to thwart this weaving, or to dye the fabric any one color, or disentangle the threads of the strands, is false to this cosmopolitan vision. I do not mean that we shall necessarily glut ourselves with the raw product of humanity. It would be folly to absorb the nations faster than we could weave them. We have no duty either to admit or reject. It is purely a question of expediency. What concerns us is the fact that the strands are here. We must have a policy and an ideal for an actual situation. Our question is, What shall we do with our America? How are we likely to get the more creative America—by confining our imaginations to the ideal of the melting-pot, or broadening them to some such cosmopolitan conception as I have been vaguely sketching?* * *The war has shown America to be unable, though isolated geographically and politically from a European world-situation, to remain aloof and irresponsible. She is a wandering star in a sky dominated by two colossal constellations of states. Can she not work out some position of her own, some life of being in, yet not quite of, this seething and embroiled European world? This is her only hope and promise. A trans-nationality of all the nations, it is spiritually impossible for her to pass into the orbit of any one. It will be folly to hurry herself into a premature and sentimental nationalism, or to emulate Europe and play fast and loose with the forces that drag into war. No Americanization will fulfill this vision which does not recognize the uniqueness of this trans-nationalism of ours. The Anglo-Saxon attempt to fuse will only create enmity and distrust. The crusade against ‘hyphenates’ will only inflame the partial patriotism of trans-nationals, and cause them to assert their European traditions in strident and unwholesome ways. But the attempt to weave a wholly novel international nation out of our chaotic America will liberate and harmonize the creative power of all these peoples and give them the new spiritual citizenship, as so many individuals have already been given, of a world.

Is it a wild hope that the undertow of opposition to metaphysics in international relations, opposition to militarism, is less a cowardly provincialism than a groping for this higher cosmopolitan ideal? One can understand the irritated restlessness with which our proud pro-British colonists contemplate a heroic conflict across the seas in which they have no part. It was inevitable that our necessary inaction should evolve in their minds into the bogey of national shame and dishonor. But let us be careful about accepting their sensitiveness as final arbiter. Let us look at our reluctance rather as the first crude beginnings of assertion on the part of certain strands in our nationality that they have a right to a voice in the construction of the American ideal. Let us face realistically the America we have around us. Let us work with the forces that are at work. Let us make something of this trans-national spirit instead of outlawing it. Already we are living this cosmopolitan America. What we need is everywhere a vivid consciousness of the new ideal. Deliberate headway must be made against the survivals of the melting pot ideal for the promise of American life.

We cannot Americanize America worthily by sentimentalizing and moralizing history. When the best schools are expressly renouncing the questionable duty of teaching patriotism by means of history, it is not the time to force shibboleth upon the immigrant. This form of Americanization has been heard because it appealed to the vestiges of our old sentimentalized and moralized patriotism. This has so far held the field as the expression of the new American’s new devotion. The inflections of other voices have been drowned. They must be heard. We must see if the lesson of the war has not been for hundreds of these later Americans a vivid realization of their trans-nationality, a new consciousness of what America meant to them as a citizenship in the world. It is the vague historic idealisms which have provided the fuel for the European flame. Our American ideal can make no progress until we do away with this romantic gilding of the past.

All our idealisms must be those of future social goals in which all can participate, the good life of personality lived in the environment of the Beloved Community. No mere doubtful triumphs of the past, which redound to the glory of only one of our transnationalities, can satisfy us. It must be a future America, on which all can unite, which pulls us irresistibly toward it, as we understand each other more warmly.

To make real this striving amid dangers and apathies is work for a younger intelligentsia of America. Here is an enterprise of integration into which we can all pour ourselves, of a spiritual welding which should make us, if the final menace ever came, no weaker, but infinitely strong.

Source: Against the Ideal of a ‘Melting Pot’

U.S. Has Highest Share of Foreign-Born Since 1910, With More Coming From Asia

Significant shift.

Extent to which it may change the tenor of US immigration debates, largely over illegal and undocumented immigration from Mexico and Central America unclear:

The foreign-born population in the United States has reached its highest share since 1910, according to government data released Thursday, and the new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia and to have college degrees than those who arrived in past decades.

The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States. For years newcomers tended to be from Latin America, but a Brookings Institution analysis of that data shows that 41 percent of the people who said they arrived since 2010 came from Asia. Just 39 percent were from Latin America. About 45 percent were college educated, the analysis found, compared with about 30 percent of those who came between 2000 and 2009.

“This is quite different from what we had thought,” said William H. Frey, the senior demographer at the Brookings Institution who conducted the analysis. “We think of immigrants as being low-skilled workers from Latin America, but for recent arrivals that’s much less the case. People from Asia have overtaken people from Latin America.”

The new data was released as the nation’s changing demography has become a flash point in American politics. President Trump, and many Republicans, have sounded alarms about immigration and suggested the government needs to restrict both the number and types of people coming into the country.

The last historic peak in immigration to the United States came at the end of the 19th century, when large numbers of Europeans fled poverty and violence in their home countries. Some of the largest numbers came from Germany, Italy and Poland. That wave peaked around the turn of the century, when the total foreign-born population stood at nearly 15 percent. But after the passage of strict racial quotas in the 1920s, the foreign-born population fell sharply for decades in the middle of the 20th century. By 1970, the population was below 5 percent.

The passage of a more liberal immigration law in 1965, which ended ethnic quotas and prioritized family reunification, ushered in new demographics. And the changes have only accelerated in recent years.

For many years, Mexico was the single largest contributor of immigrants. But since 2010, the number of immigrants arriving from Mexico has declined, while those from China and India have surged. Since 2010, the increase in the number of people from Asia — 2.6 million — was more than double the 1.2 million who came from Latin America, Mr. Frey found.

The foreign-born population stood at 13.7 percent in 2017, or 44.5 million people, compared with 13.5 percent in 2016.

Some of the largest gains were in states with the smallest immigrant populations, suggesting that immigrants were spreading out in the country. New York and California, states with large immigrant populations, both had increases of less than six percent since 2010. But foreign-born populations rose by 20 percent in Tennessee, 13 percent in Ohio, 12 percent in South Carolina and 20 percent in Kentucky over the same period.

Emmanuel D’Souza, a nurse practitioner in Dayton, Ohio, who emigrated from India in 2004, said he has noticed a growing and thriving Indian population in his area.

“Now when you go to the grocery store at 5 or 6 in the evening, you see a lot of Indian people, buying vegetables after work,” said Mr. D’Souza.

He said he saw fewer Indian people when he bought his house in 2009 than he does today. Now he counted at least four temples and two mosques, and said there are two Indian specialty grocery stores. Mr. D’Souza, 41, who is Catholic, also sees Indians in church on Sundays.

The data also suggests a political pattern among states with large percentages of foreign-born residents. Of the 15 states with the highest concentration of immigrants, all but three — Florida, Texas and Arizona — voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Many of the states with low and moderate concentrations of foreign-born people voted for Mr. Trump, Mr. Frey found.

In those low-concentration states, foreign-born populations tended to be more educated than the native-born. In Ohio, for example, 43 percent of the foreign-born population is college educated, compared with just 27 percent of American-born Ohioans. About 43 percent of the foreign-born population is from Asia, far more than the 20 percent from Latin America.

The same can be true in states with large immigrant populations. About 15 percent of the population of Maryland last year was foreign-born. Of those people, 42 percent had college degrees, compared with 39 percent of American-born Marylanders.

Chao Wu, a data scientist in Columbia, Maryland, who came from China in 2003, said he had long known about Asian graduate students in the United States, because he had been one. But it wasn’t until he started running for a seat on his county’s board of education that he noticed the richness and variation in the population.

“I increased my outreach and I realized there was a big Asian-American business community, with restaurants and grocery stores,” he said. He said he recently helped organize a ceremony in his town with a sister city in China. A portion of Route 40 was renamed Korean Way.

But the rising levels of education are not lifting everyone. Asian-Americans are now the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the country, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. Income inequality among Asian-Americans nearly doubled from 1970 to 2016.

While people from Asia make up the largest share of recent newcomers, a majority of the country’s total foreign-born population is still from Latin America — 50 percent, compared to 31 percent from Asia.

North Dakota had the single largest percentage increase in foreign-born residents since 2010, Mr. Frey said, with the number going up by 87 percent. Dr. Fadel E. Nammour, a gastroenterologist in Fargo, N.D., who moved to the United States from Lebanon in 1996, said he has noticed more immigrant-owned restaurants since he moved to North Dakota in 2002. In recent years, the state has settled refugees from countries including Iraq, Somalia and Congo. In all, foreign-born people in North Dakota rose to 31,000 in 2017 from just 16,600 in 2010, Mr. Frey found.

“There is more diversity now,” Dr. Nammour said. “You can tell by food. There are Indian places that opened up. We have an African place now. Little things that are a little bit different.”

Source: Immigrants, Many from Asia, Reach Highest Share of U.S. Population Since 1910Immigrants, Many from Asia, Reach Highest Share of U.S. Population Since 1910The Census Bureau’s figures for 2017 confirm a major shift in who is coming to the United States.The new arrivals are more likely to come from Asia and to have college degrees than those who arrived in past decades.

Fewer people are answering a US agency’s citizenship query. That’s fueling fears for the 2020 census

Interesting given that this trend predates Trump and the increased anti-immigrant and xenophobic discourse:

A growing number of Americans are not willing to disclose their citizenship status on a government survey, according to new research. The finding adds fuel to an already fierce political debate over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

State officials and civil rights groups have sued Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, challenging his decision earlier this year to add such a question to the decennial census. Ross’s opponents worry some groups, notably foreign-born residents, will shy away from answering the question because of the current hyperpartisan battle over U.S. immigration policy. That could undermine the accuracy of the constitutionally mandated exercise used to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and allocate $800 billion in federal funds, they say. The new data appear to bolster that argument by documenting rising nonresponse rates to the question on a related Census Bureau survey.

Citizenship is one of 72 questions on the American Community Survey (ACS), an annual sampling of 3.5 million households that in 2005 replaced the long form of the decennial census. The new study finds that the portion of respondents who did not answer the ACS citizenship question more than doubled between 2010 through 2016, from 2.7% to 6%. In contrast, the nonresponse rates for other demographic questions on the ACS—including race, sex, age, and Hispanic origin—remained constant, at less than 2%.

“This suggests an increased sensitivity to being asked about citizenship,” says Indivar Dutta-Gupta of the Center on Poverty and Inequality at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., which released the report late last week. “The findings lend support to the conclusions of many experts, including former census directors, state officials, and the National Academy of Sciences, that a citizenship question will increase the risks for the 2020 census,” says the author, demographer William O’Hare, a veteran census data cruncher and consultant based in Baltimore, Maryland.

O’Hare found that nonresponse rates on the citizenship question also varied greatly by geography in ways that could jeopardize an accurate reapportionment. The highest rates—Arizona led at 9% and California, New York, and Colorado all exceeded 7%—are home to large numbers of immigrants. The lowest rates, below 4%, were found in Vermont, West Virginia, and Maine—states with relatively small immigrant populations.

No answer

In recent years, a growing number of respondents to the American Community Survey are not answering a question about their citizenship. Nonresponse rates to other demographic questions, however, have remained stable.

There was also variability by racial and ethnic group. Asian-Americans and Hispanics had nonresponse rates of 8.1% and 7.4%, respectively, whereas the rate for non-Hispanic whites was 5.6%. Some 8.3% of foreign-born residents ignored the question, compared with only 5.7% of those born in the United States.

The mode of response also matters. O’Hare found that nonresponse rates were highest among those who answered the ACS online, at 8%. In contrast, 6.7% of those who mailed back a paper ACS bypassed the citizenship question, and the nonresponse rate was only 3.8% for those filling out the ACS through a personal interview.

That disparity could be a double whammy for the 2020 census, O’Hare says. The internet will be an option for the first time, and Census Bureau officials hope more than 60% of U.S. residents will answer electronically. In addition, he says, the 500,000 fieldworkers hired for short-term duty on the decennial census are likely to be less capable of cajoling reluctant residents to answer any questions they have skipped than the smaller and better-trained workforce deployed for the ACS. In effect, says O’Hare, the Census Bureau “is pushing a mode of data collection and a methodology that results in higher nonresponse rates.”

In a March memo justifying his decision, Ross asserts that his staff found “limited empirical evidence” to support the argument that “adding a citizenship question would decrease response rates materially.” But a memo from John Abowd, the Census Bureau’s chief scientist, casts doubt on Ross’s assertion by detailing the negative impact of such a question on response rates. The memo was disclosed as part of the department’s response to the various law suits, and O’Hare’s analysis reinforces its message that the citizenship question represents an added burden for some respondents.

“It’s not a random sample,” Dutta-Gupta says about who is more likely to ignore the citizenship question. “The differences [in nonresponse rates] are concentrated geographically and racially. And that’s important.”

Source: Fewer people are answering a US agency’s citizenship query. That’s fueling fears for the 2020 census

Why is the US so far behind on naturalizing new citizens?

Noteworthy backlog increase, consistent with other immigration-related policy changes by the Trump administration:

Naturalization ceremonies are joyous events. They’re an occasion for new citizens — many of whom are longtime U.S. residents — to officially declare the United States as their home. They’re also a reminder that it is not birthplace or ethnicity that makes one an American, but a commitment to shared principles and values.

Encouraging permanent residents to become U.S. citizens traditionally has been an area of bipartisan agreement, even in the face of heated debates over immigration policy. So why is the country lagging behind in naturalizing aspiring Americans?

Data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for processing naturalization applications, currently show a backlog of more than 750,000 people. That’s nearly double the number of pending applications that existed at the start of 2016, as pointed out in a report by the National Partnership for New Americans. Waiting time between applying for and receiving approval for citizenship used to be about six months; now it is closer to a year. Some USCIS processing centers, including Los Angeles, report that applicants could linger in naturalization limbo for nearly two years.

Some USCIS processing centers, including Los Angeles, report that applicants could linger in naturalization limbo for nearly two years.

The problem predates the Trump administration. In the run-up to the 2016 election, a surge of people rushed to become citizens to vote that November. That’s typical of presidential election years, but USCIS seems to have found itself unprepared. During the more normal year of 2015, there were about 800,000 citizenship applications and the backlog at the end of that year (390,000) was only slightly larger than it was at the beginning. During 2016, however, there were more than 1 million applications and the backlog rose to about 640,000. As a result, many would-be citizens were shut out of voting.

Today, however, the elections are long past and yet the application backlog has increased by another 117,000. Two years ago, one might have attributed the logjam to the challenges of hiring to meet unexpected demand. But now there’s been plenty of time to staff up. And yet, as members of Congress recently complained, field office staff has increased just 7% as the application backlog nearly doubled.

While some might point to scarce funding as the cause, USCIS is almost entirely self-sufficient; its funding comes primarily from immigration and naturalization application fees, not tax revenue. More applications should mean more resources. Despite this, USCIS has indicated it has no plans to add more adjudicators or expand its offices.

Slow-walking citizenship applications is of a piece with other worrisome actions by the Trump administration affecting legal immigration. It has, for example, hired several dozen lawyers and agents to ramp up Operation Janus — an effort to prosecute and strip citizenship from about 1,600 individuals (out of the more than 21 million naturalized citizens) who may have misled authorities on their naturalization application. There have also been efforts to discharge immigrants serving in the U.S. military who are part of a program that puts them on a path to citizenship. Currently the administration is writing rules to hinder naturalization for legal immigrants if anyone in their household — often U.S. citizens — utilized social services such as food stamps, children’s health insurance or the Affordable Care Act.

USCIS has also sometimes drifted from its service-oriented mission of adjudicating and processing immigration benefits. Emails exposed in a lawsuit in Boston, for instance, show the agency working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to schedule fake interviews to lure immigrants to appointments where they were arrested and some deported.

In late July, 50 mayors and county executives signed a letter asking USCIS to reduce the citizenship application backlog. In August, immigrant and civil rights groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request to clarify the reasons for the ongoing delays. Shining a light on what’s happening inside USCIS will be key to resolving the naturalization backlog­ — but so will continued public pressure.

Our country is in the midst of an important debate — one in which reasonable people can disagree — about what constitutes a just immigration system. Still, it is hard to find a legitimate reason for making would-be citizens endure long waits after they have jumped through all the hoops of eligibility.

Pramila Jayapal is the U.S. representative for Washington’s 7th Congressional District. Manuel Pastor, a sociology professor, directs the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration at USC.

Source: Why is the US so far behind on naturalizing new citizens?

Birthright citizenship, past and present

Nice profile of the history and 1898 case that resulted in birthright citizenship in the USA:

Who’s American?

The Trump administration’s troubling attack against immigrants and the children of immigrants continues. The State Department is denying or slowing passport applications from people with official U.S. birth certificates in states along the southern border; there have been repeated requests for additional documentation.

The government is alleging that some midwives and doctors provided fraudulent certificates over the decades, in a crackdown that’s swept up U.S. military veterans and those with certificates originating hundreds of miles from the border.

The move comes in the wake of the administration’s plans to make it harder for legal permanent residents with green cards to become citizens.

As the American-born daughter of Chinese immigrants, I’m outraged by this onslaught.

Birthright citizenship is vital to this country, making it possible for immigrant families to integrate and build a life here.

Eliminating or curtailing birthright citizenship wouldn’t fix our broken immigration system. These racist, xenophobic efforts to block paths to citizenship, whether through naturalization or at birth, could disenfranchise millions of people and generations of families.

The question of who has a right to be an American has been debated throughout our country’s history. Following the Civil War, the 14th Amendment in 1868 granted citizenship and equal rights to African American slaves who had been emancipated, to all those “born or naturalized” (the decision rectified the Dred Scott case, in which an enslaved man sued for his freedom, and lost).

Three decades later, Wong Kim Ark, the son of Chinese immigrants — born at 751 Sacramento St. in San Francisco — challenged the government’s refusal to recognize his citizenship.

In those days, under the harsh terms of the Chinese Exclusion Act, in order to travel outside of the United States, people of Chinese descent had to get a signed affidavit by white witnesses who could vouch for them and their citizenship.

To me, this bureaucratic obstruction is a parallel to the government’s additional requests for documentation from certain passport applicants.

Though Wong had the required paperwork, customs barred him from landing after his trip to China, by claiming that he was not a U.S. citizen.

He had made the round trip as a teenager, and had been allowed to return. With the support of the Chinese Six Companies — a Chinatown benevolent organization — the cook fought his case to the Supreme Court. In 1898, the court ruled in Wong’s favor, upholding that a child born in the U.S. automatically became a citizen.

To exclude Wong would have denied citizenship to those of English, Scottish, Irish or other European parentage who had always been considered and treated as citizens, Justice Horace Gray wrote in the majority opinion.

The fascinating 2014 documentary “14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark and Vanessa Lopez” — about the history of the 14th Amendment and the debate over birthright citizenship that rages on — includes interviews with Wong’s great-granddaughter, Sandra, a native of San Francisco.

“You can only imagine what he might have felt. If you talked to him, what would he have had to say about these experiences … having to do it over and over again,” Sandra Wong says in the documentary, contemplating his years of legal battles.

“My ancestor stood up and took on the challenge,” she says. “He was brave enough to do it. He was just a regular guy; it wasn’t like he wanted to be a hero. He wanted to fight for his right, and so you do what you have to do.”

How terrifying, how daunting it must have been, to fight the powers that be.

Although I don’t remember learning about Wong’s case among the landmark Supreme Court cases that we studied as schoolchildren, he deserves a place among those whose cases changed the fates of the generations who followed him.

My family owes thanks to him, and so do other children of immigrants, and everyone in this country who has benefited from contributions of those who hailed from elsewhere but embraced the United States as a home and a haven.

Yet Wong’s story doesn’t end with the court case, with him living happily ever after in the Bay Area. Eventually, he returned to China, quite possibly because of the rampant discrimination Chinese and Chinese Americans faced at that time. To his family, he spoke little about what had happened.

Yet his descendants later returned to America, in search of the same opportunity and freedom that has drawn immigrants from the beginning, and draws them still — and that we must strive to protect now.

Source: Birthright citizenship, past and present

Immigrants, fearing Trump crackdown, drop out of nutrition programs

Short-term reaction with longer-term health implications, just as the previous Canadian Conservative government’s cut to the interim federal health program had with respect to refugees (restored by the current government):

Immigrants are turning down government help to buy infant formula and healthy food for their young children because they’re afraid the Trump administration could bar them from getting a green card if they take federal aid.

Local health providers say they’ve received panicked phone calls from both documented and undocumented immigrant families demanding to be dropped from the rolls of WIC, a federal nutrition program aimed at pregnant women and children, after news reports that the White House is potentially planning to deny legal status to immigrants who’ve used public benefits. Agencies in at least 18 states say they’ve seen drops of up to 20 percent in enrollment, and they attribute the change largely to fears about the immigration policy.

The Trump administration hasn’t officially put the policy in place yet, but even without a formal rule, families are already being scared away from using services, health providers say.

“It’s a stealth regulation,” said Kathleen Campbell Walker, an immigration attorney at Dickinson Wright in El Paso, Texas. “It doesn’t really exist, but it’s being applied subliminally.”

Health advocates say the policy change could put more babies who are U.S.-born citizens at risk of low birth weight and other problems — undermining public health while also potentially fueling higher health care costs at taxpayer expense. WIC — formally the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children — serves about half of all babies born in the U.S by providing vouchers or benefit cards so pregnant women and families with small children can buy staple foods and infant formula. The program is also designed to support women who are breastfeeding.

Because it benefits babies, the vast majority of whom are U.S.-born citizens, WIC is among the least politically controversial programs that the administration is said to be targeting in its crackdown.

“The big concern for all of us in the WIC community is that this program is really about growing healthy babies,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, president and CEO of the National WIC Association. “When any population that’s potential eligible for this program is either driven away by changes in regulation or legislation or simply by political rhetoric inducing fear there are huge personal consequences to those babies and their families.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The immigration proposal, which White House officials are working on ahead of the midterms as a way to energize the Republican base, would primarily affect legal immigrants already in the U.S. who are seeking a green card and people applying for legal admission to the U.S. It could also affect undocumented immigrants if they want to seek legal permanent residency in the future — a change that would represent a substantial expansion of the definition of public charge.

Under a provision known as public charge, U.S. immigration law has for more than a century allowed officials to reject admission to the country on the grounds that potential immigrants or visitors might become overly reliant on the government. But until now, officials have looked narrowly at whether someone would need cash benefits such as welfare or long-term institutional care. Immigration hawks in the Trump administration are pushing to consider would-be immigrants’ use of a much broader array of services, including non-cash assistance like food stamps, Head Start, Medicaid and WIC, according to versions of the proposed rule that were obtained by news organizations earlier this year.

Undocumented immigrants do not qualify for most government aid programs, but such an expansion of public charge could apply to the whole family. In the past, if a mom was applying for a green card her own use of public benefits might be examined. Under the proposed change, her child’s enrollment in Medicaid or Head Start would weighed as a negative factor, even if that child is a U.S. citizen.

Trump administration officials have argued that they are simply trying to clarify and enforce current immigration law.

“The goal is not to reduce immigration or in some diabolical fashion shut the door on people, family-based immigration, anything like that,” said Francis Cissna, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, at the National Press Club earlier this month.

Cissna said the rule the administration is working on is “rational and reasonable” and will go through the full and “proper” regulatory process.

Enrollment in WIC has been going down for a variety of reasons as the economy has improved and the birth rates decline. When Trump took office there were approximately 7.4 million women and children in the program. As of May, the last month for which there is data, the number had dropped to 6.8 million.

Government officials aren’t able to track exactly how many people have dropped from WIC or declined the benefits because they’re afraid of the public charge rule, in part because the program is immigration blind. But providers say anecdotal evidence shows the proposal is contributing to the drop-off.

POLITICO interviewed more than a dozen WIC providers nationwide who serve tens of thousands of children from Washington state, Kansas and New York state. Almost all said they have seen immigrant mothers and their children drop from WIC, citing public charge concerns. They also said they’ve fielded inquiries about whether participating in WIC could put a family at risk of either deportation or at a disadvantage in immigration proceedings.

Jennifer Mejias-Martinez, who works on WIC at the Shawnee County Health Department in Topeka, Kan., recalled getting a call earlier this year from a family who’d seen a report on Univision about public benefits being a threat to immigration proceedings.

“They were very, very scared,” Mejias-Martinez said of the family. She said she tried to calm them down and assure that the policy had not changed, but they dropped from the program anyway. “It made me very sad, and quite frankly upset,” she said.

In some cases, immigration attorneys are recommending that families drop out of all government programs, including WIC, to avoid any chance that using the benefits could negatively affect their chances of getting a green card — or even prevent a family member from being able to get a visa to visit, according to caseworkers.

Public health and immigration advocates say they now find themselves debating the ethics of encouraging people to enroll in the program to improve their children’s health while there’s so much fear the benefits might one day jeopardize their ability to stay in the United States.

“Without a draft rule being released, we don’t think it’s wise to frighten people or tell them that they’re in the clear,” said Zach Hennessey, vice president of programs and services at Public Health Solutions, a large health non-profit in New York City.

The leaked version of the proposed rule suggests benefits used before the rule is final wouldn’t be used against an applicant.

Nearly two-thirds of WIC providers, from 18 different states, reported they have noticed a difference in immigrant WIC access in the wake of the news about potential changes in the public charge rules, according to a March survey by the National WIC Association. Seventeen of the agencies reported that participants had asked to dis-enroll or be deleted from WIC records.

An agency in Longview, Texas, reported it’s losing an estimated 75 to 90 participants per month to public charge fears. In Beacon, N.Y., an agency estimated it’s lost 20 percent of its caseload. In St. Louis, Mo., a provider said it’s seen a few dozen drop in the last year.

Public Health Solutions, the largest WIC provider in New York state, said WIC caseloads fell after press coverage of the proposed public charge changes. The non-profit said it saw more than six times the normal attrition rate after initial news reports about a potential executive order in the first quarter of 2017. The drop rate spiked again twice more in the wake of additional news reports about the coming proposed rule.

The group cautioned that the numbers don’t prove that public charge fears drove households from the program, but said that the unusually large declines appeared to correspond with the timing of the news reports.

The USDA, which oversees the WIC program, is conducting several studies to explore why eligible families are either not enrolling in WIC or discontinuing their participation, according to a spokesperson.

“The USDA is committed to the health and well-being of all WIC eligible mothers, infants and children and supports families seeking assistance,” a spokesperson said in a statement to POLITICO.

The department did not comment on whether officials are concerned about public charge fears driving participation down.

The drops in WIC enrollment stemming from public charge concerns come alongside broader fears about the Trump administration’s crackdown on both legal and illegal immigration.

Maria Isabel Rangel, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, recently interviewed ten farmworker families in California whose households included both legal and undocumented immigrants. She said they described dealing with “constant anxiety,” even when they’ve decided to keep using programs like WIC, Medicaid and food stamps.

“They’re worried that their documentation status will be somehow be jeopardized by participating in these health programs,” Rangel said. “They say: ‘I can’t stop using these programs because my children need them, but I know I’m risking my future and the future of my children.’”

“They’re making these decisions basically based off fear,” she said.

WIC has been largely immigration-blind since it was created in 1974, most of the infants it serves are citizens born in the U.S. regardless of their parents’ immigration status. Despite that, providers say parents’ fear of deportation may also be driving declining enrollment in WIC.

False rumors that federal agents are planning to raid WIC clinics have circulated in immigrant communities, to the point that providers in places like King County, Wash. have posted signs designating their clinics as “private” areas and have statements on their websites that immigrants should access services “without fear.”

Aliya Haq, a nutrition supervisor at International Community Health Services, a large health non-profit in Washington state, recalled a terrified father calling in earlier this year asking that his wife be dropped from WIC, citing fears about getting deported.

“He was literally begging us requesting that we remove his family from the WIC program. … it was very heartbreaking,” Haq said.

The WIC program is broadly supported on both sides of the aisle because it’s been shown to lead to better health outcomes for mothers and babies, and pays dividends in savings to Medicaid. A 1988 USDA study found that for every dollar spent on WIC, there is between $1.77 and $3.13 in Medicaid savings for the infant and mother in the first 60 days after birth.

Rep. Roger Marshall, a conservative Kansas Republican who was an obstetrician before he ran for Congress in 2016, says the program is “crucial.” When he saw pregnant women during his three decades in practice, he said, “This nutrition helped prevent birth defects, led to healthier outcomes, and healthier infants.”

Marshall noted he hasn’t seen the changes the administration is considering. “I will stand beside WIC and say they’ve been a great use of federal dollars,” he said.

Even as they’re considering the proposed rule change, Trump officials have already begun enacting some new restrictions. In January, the State Department instructed embassies and consulates to look at potential use of nutrition and health benefits when deciding whom to admit to the U.S.

A spokesperson from the State Department said the changes “clarify current regulations and policy guidance.”

Immigration lawyers are watching very closely to see whether the updated guidance leads to more denials based on public charge grounds.

Immigrant advocates are expected to mount a court challenge if the expanded public charge rule is finalized, but public health advocates say the damage is already being done to women and families who are afraid to use WIC.

“One way or another society is going to pay for this,” said Hennessey of Public Health Solutions in New York City. “It’s very expensive for a baby in the NICU. It’s very expensive when a child’s developmental needs aren’t met, or there’s a severe maternal morbidity event.”

Source: Immigrants, fearing Trump crackdown, drop out of nutrition programs

USA: The History Behind the Birthright Citizenship Battle

Important historical background:

The 14th Amendment, which declared that African-Americans were citizens, turned 150 earlier this month. But even as it was being commemorated as one of the signal achievements of post-Civil War Reconstruction, its bedrock provisions were colliding with the furious 21st-century debate over immigration.

In June, President Trump tweeted that undocumented immigrants should be sent home “immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases”— a direct contravention, legal scholars pointed out, of repeated Supreme Court rulings saying that the amendment’s guarantee of due process applies to all people in the United States, whatever their status.

This week, Michael Anton, a former national security official in the Trump administration, wrote an Op-Ed article in The Washington Post saying that birthright citizenship — the longstanding principle that anyone born in the United States is a citizen — rests on a “deliberate misreading” of the 14th Amendment.

The article drew furious responses from scholars on social media and elsewhere. Among those weighing in was Martha S. Jones, a historian at Johns Hopkins University, and the author of the new book “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America.”

We talked with Dr. Jones about how the idea of birthright citizenship was created, and how it connects with the current debate about who belongs in America. The interview has been edited and condensed.

The idea of “jus soli,” the right of the soil, goes back to English common law. Where does the American idea of birthright citizenship enter our political tradition?

In the United States, it is the African-American community that first begins to articulate the claim to birthright citizenship. They do it because they need it. Other folks do not.

By the 1830s, African-Americans in what we call the Colored Conventions Movement are crafting an argument that will help defend them against colonization schemes that involve trying to get them to leave the country, and also trying to resist state “black laws” that regulate where they can travel or gather in public, whether they can go to school, own guns and so on.

They look at the Constitution, which doesn’t really define who is a citizen, but does have this clause saying that the president must be a natural-born citizen. They ask, if the president is a natural-born citizen, why aren’t we? The Naturalization Act of 1790 says that only white people can be naturalized. But there is no color line in the Constitution.

We tend to think of the 1857 Dred Scott decision — which declared that back people could never be citizens — as definitively slamming the door shut, until the 14th Amendment came along. How much resistance was there to the decision?

Roger Taney [the chief justice, who wrote the decision] was very aware of the history of African-Americans’ efforts to claim citizenship. And after the decision, we see African-Americans continue to resist, to critique Taney’s decision from the podium, in newspapers. At the same time, lower courts are narrowing the scope of the decision, or refusing to defer to his reasoning.

And African-Americans are not retreating to their homes, or living quiet lives in response to Dred Scott. In Taney’s home state, Maryland, there are about 75,000 to 80,000 free blacks. When the state legislature proposes a new set of draconian black laws that would either remove them or re-enslave them, people organize, gather petitions, go to Annapolis, the capital, as part of an effort that ultimately defeats the legislation.

Black voting rights, which were guaranteed in the 15th Amendment, came under sustained attack for more than a century. Were there similar efforts to roll back birthright citizenship itself?

After 1868, African-Americans are citizens, if they are born in the United States. Now they have a tool that protects them from any effort to remove them from the country. With citizenship, there really is a there there, even as the struggle over civil rights continued, arguably into our own moment.

USA: Dozens of infants [babies] ordered to appear in immigration court: report

Speaks for itself:

At least 70 children under the age of 1 have been ordered before immigration judges since last October, some without any form of legal representation present, according to newly released government data.

Information from the Department of Justice (DOJ) reported by the Texas Tribune on Wednesday states that the number of infants summoned before immigration judges tripled in 2017 compared to the previous year.

A total of 1,500 “unaccompanied” children ages 3 and younger have been ordered before immigration judges since October 2015, the Tribune reported, citing DOJ data provided by Kaiser Health News.

About three-fourths of those children had legal representation, while the remainder only had access to a list of legal aid attorneys their caregiver can contact. In some cases, young children appear before judges with little to no knowledge of their situation or where their families are, the report noted.

While officials said many children under the age of 1 come into the U.S. with a parent and their case proceeds together, some of the children arrived in the U.S. without their parents or legal guardians, according to the Tribune.

Others were only deemed to be “unaccompanied” minors after being separated by their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” border policy, which prioritized prosecuting all illegal border crossers.

President Trump signed an executive order last month to end the separation of families at the border, and his administration has been working to reunite affected families after thousands of young children were separated from adults.

“This is to some extent a … crisis of the creation of the government,” Robert Carey, the former head of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement, told the Tribune. “It’s a tragic and ironic turn of events.”

One immigration attorney based in Virginia noted to the Tribune that many children are unaware that they face life-threatening situations in their home country.

“Think about it as a parent. You’re not going to tell your child they might be killed, right?” Eileen Blessinger told the newspaper. “A lot of the kids don’t know.”

Asylum claim denials, according to the data, are at an all-time high of 42 percent.

Earlier this month the Trump administration issued guidance ending asylum claims for migrants fleeing domestic abuse or gang-related violence, a move that was heavily criticized by immigrant rights activists.

“The Trump administration just handed a death sentence to thousands of women and families fleeing domestic and gang violence by barring them from accessing asylum in the U.S.,” Jess Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, said in June.

Source: Dozens of infants ordered to appear in immigration court: report