After facing continued blowback from last week’s reporting on his disparaging remarks about immigrants from “shithole countries,” President Donald Trump has suddenly changed course — at least in rhetoric.
On Tuesday, Trump was asked by CNN’s Jim Acosta whether he wants more immigrants from Norway. He replied that he actually wants immigrants from “everywhere.”
“I want them to come in from everywhere,” Trump said, as he welcomed Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev to the White House.
The comments follow a Washington Post report last Thursday that in an immigration meeting with bipartisan lawmakers, Trump asked why the United States had to accept people from “shithole countries,” allegedly referring to Haiti, El Salvador, and the entire African continent. “Why do we want all these people from Africa here? They’re shithole countries… We should have more people from Norway,” he said. The racism in his comments was obvious.
But without any actual evidence to support his claim, much of the media decided to take Trump’s new comments on face value.
“Trump says he wants immigrants from ‘everywhere,'” Reuters reported Tuesday, with no context of the president’s previous rhetoric or policies before last week’s report.
CNN published another piece with the exact same headline, and again mentioned none of the president’s previous rhetoric or policies. Even publications that offered some context published nearly identical headlines, which made it seem like a president who ran a virulently anti-immigration campaign and has implemented anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies as president, does indeed want to accept them now.
A Politico piece ran with the headline “Trump on immigrants: ‘I want them to come in from everywhere.'” The AP reported, “Trump says he wants immigrants from ‘everywhere.'” “Trump: I want immigrants from ‘everywhere,'” reported The Hill.
This kind of reporting is dangerous — in many instances, readers stop at the headline — Trump’s comments simply don’t match up with his record on immigration.
Just seven days into his presidency, Trump passed his first Muslim ban, which suspended all refugee resettlement, permanently banned Syrian nationals, and temporarily banned all nationals, legal visa holders, and green card holders of six other Muslim-majority countries. After facing multiple legal challenges, the current version of his ban — issued in September — targets nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as certain Venezuelan officials. The restrictions vary for each country, but they are indefinite, and last month, the Supreme Court allowed the order to go into full effect.
Also in September, the Trump administration announced it would phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, an Obama-era initiative that offered young immigrants who met certain requirements temporary deportation protection and work authorization. The program benefited nearly 800,000 young immigrants, who are now worried about what will happen to them.
Under the new policy, people whose DACA status expires before March 5 will have one last opportunity to extend their status for two years. Everyone whose DACA status expires after that date will be at risk of deportation. About 36,000 DACA recipients already missed the October deadline to renew their DACA status, thousands of whom were in hurricane-affected areas. Trump called on Congress to find a permanent fix to DACA, but in the meantime, people’s lives remain in limbo.
Trump does not want immigrants from everywhere, and he has said as much repeatedly. In August of last year, he endorsed a Republican bill that sought to create a points-based system to determine which immigrants are eligible for green cards and curtail family-based migration, which the president derisively refers to as “chain migration.” The bill would have reduced the number of green cards distributed from more than 1 million to about 500,000.
Trump has repeatedly called for an end to family based migration, in which people can sponsor family members for permanent residency.
Thank you to the great Republican Senators who showed up to our mtg on immigration reform. We must BUILD THE WALL, stop illegal immigration, end chain migration & cancel the visa lottery. The current system is unsafe & unfair to the great people of our country – time for change!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2018
He has called for an end other forms of immigration as well, including the diversity visa lottery, which only around 50,000 people per year receive after strict vetting measures, and H1B visas, which allow professionals from other countries to work in the United States for up to six years. In January, McClatchy reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering an end to extensions for H1B visas, nearly nine months after Trump issued the Buy American, hire American” executive order calling for a review of the H1B program. Applicants for H1B visas are facing a longer and more expensive process under this administration, and lawyers have reported that applicants are getting more warranted requests for evidence. As Quartz put it, “Trump is quietly swamping visa applicants in extra paperwork.”
Trump has also announced an end to the temporary protected status (TPS) for 200,000 Salvadorans, 50,000 Haitians, and 2,500 Nicaraguans — all of whom were allowed to legally live and work in the United States after natural disasters in their home countries. In November, the approximately 57,000 Hondurans in the United States were informed that they would be allowed to remain in the country legally for six more months, but the program’s future (and people’s lives) after July remains uncertain.