A leaked draft of a Trump administration executive order aims to limit the entry of immigrants who require public assistance — and potentially even deport current immigrants receiving government aid. The drafted order mirrors similar policies espoused by Europe’s radical right wing parties.
The draft order — called Executive Order on Protecting Taxpayer Resources by Ensuring Our Immigration Laws Promote Accountability and Responsibility — says, in part:
Our country’s immigration laws are designed to protect American taxpayers and promote immigrant self-sufficiency. Yet households headed by aliens are much more likely than those headed by citizens to use Federal means-tested public benefits.
The source of such a policy is likely White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former executive of Breitbart Media. Bannon has strong knowledge of European right wing politics, which are defined by nativist and ethno-centric policies. Through his powerful role in the Trump administration, he is now able to implement anti-immigrant policies borrowed directly from Europe’s far right.
The draft order is not finalized and it’s unclear if Trump will put it forward in the near future. But what is clear is that the order would be in line with Trump’s inauguration promise to put “America First”. The underlying nativist argument in such policies is to shift the ire and frustration of Americans away from the administration and on to a convenient scapegoat: immigrants.
“This is draconian,” Dara Lind of Vox wrote Tuesday. “It seeks to punish not only legal immigrants in the US and their families, but also their US-citizen relatives. It’s a reflection of a worldview in which any benefit an immigrant gets from the government is, in some way, a theft of American tax money — and punishes immigrants as thieves accordingly.”
Cas Mudde, an associate professor at the University of Georgia who studies Europe’s radical right, told ThinkProgress that this stance echoes decades of anti-immigration rhetoric from reactionary European parties.
“That is absolutely standard radical right policy, going back to 1980s, when radical right parties like (Front National) FN in France and (Vlaams Belang) VB in Belgium linked immigration and unemployment,” said Mudde. “This was the main slogan of the VB in 1984: ‘400,000 unemployed, so why do we need guest workers?’”
The leader of France’s right-wing National Front, Marine Le Pen, is currently polling favorably; if elected, she could enact an immigration ban mimicking Trump’s Muslim ban. Right-wing, anti-immigrant parties in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands are also accumulating influence.