Trump wants new immigrants to be patriotic. What that means in new America

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

NEW YORK – Trump’s grandiose plan to overhaul the immigration system in America and bring in fluent-English speaking, super-skilled immigrant nerds and high achievers whose likely salaries would make many CEOs cringe in awe, has another caveat: they should also demonstrate traits of patriotism, to promote integration, assimilation and national unity.

What that probably means, according to a Washington Post report, is that such meritorious Green Card applicants would be required to pass a civics exam based on a reading of George Washington’s farewell address or Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association.

A civics exam, of course, should be a cakewalk for aspirants from elitist countries like India, where most school kids read up on such stuff in their 2nd grade or so, for fun. Apart from the history of the ancient civilizations and post-modernism. And preparing for IIT or MBBS exams. Or both.

Woe on those who don’t score 100/100 on that civics test! The 98ers and 99ers would probably hang their head in shame, not emerge from their room for a week, reject that instant Green Card to the US, take a flight to New Zealand, and create apps for Maoris. After all, they did meet the 101% percent cutoff in Delhi University after their high school exams, acing all their subjects, and then some.

While these commendable immigration overtures are surely of great interest to millions of highly qualified people around the world – creditably Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner’s brainwave, to make America perpetually great by bringing in only the certified bright and revered from around the world – it might be best to look at what the new America is shaping up to be as an adopted homeland for these academic super heroes.

The new America might be a land of zero abortions.

Terrific news if you are a born again Republican, eager to create many babies, and more as God wills it, but tough news for liberal immigrants coming from democracies, especially women, who vehemently detest the idea of government owning rights to their body, and personal choice.

While the vigorous anti-abortion rights movement surging through Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, Louisiana and other conservative states may ultimately be stymied by the Supreme Court, or be adopted in a reformed measure, if implemented, would be a huge factor to consider for potential immigrants.

It’s not just the question of unwanted pregnancy. The larger issue to ponder for skilled and educated immigrants, who are mostly liberals, would be to live in a country which restricts freedom of choice on a critical matter which for most people is one of the biggest decisions of their lifetime – when to start a family. It impinges on self-worth and self-esteem, especially if they choose to do so against their better sense.

Even for well-entrenched immigrants in America, who favor abortion rights, the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy for a teenage daughter, or a son facing the prospect of being a father while in high school, ruining future career prospects, making a mockery of their life, would be enough to give nightmares and keep them up at night.

Would it be ‘un-patriotic’ to ace the civics exam and not want a baby? Be forced to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, seek an abortion, in Mexico, Canada or India?

Another critical issue for the discerning is that the higher education sector in America is turning on its head.

While the controversial Affirmative Action issue would soon come up before the Supreme Court, decide how much merit is there really in merit, and SAT scores could become paramount – of far more priority than a civics exam, a new measure by the College Board has parents living in affluent suburbs scratching their heads.

The Wall Street Journal today reported that the Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions. This would be expanded nationally by 2020 fall. This year it would be criteria for admissions in 150 institutions.

The adversity score would take into account and give points for economic factors such as poverty levels, and crime rate in the neighborhood and school.

The report said the College Board is worried about income inequality influencing test results for years. White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

Now, imagine the scenario where the Supreme Court keeps Affirmative Action in place, and adversity scores come into play in admissions. Many of those highly educated immigrants living in affluent suburbs will ultimately find that their son or daughter would be at a disadvantage even when they score high on the SATs.

Those children would be forced to alternately go to educational institutes that parents from India wouldn’t have considered for their own selves when they emigrated as students. It would be the ultimate defeat for immigrants who came to better their own prospects; find their children struggling to get education in a top notch institution.

Not that there are any dearth of foreigners willing to relocate to America. As of now, at least.

Another Wall Street Journal report today said the share of US workers born outside the country rose again last year, hitting the highest level in decades, boosted by steady immigration and a drop in the native-born birthrate.

Foreign-born workers – those not born in the US nor have US citizens as parents -accounted for 17.5% of all US employees in 2018, up from 17.1% in 2017, the Labor Department said Thursday.

There were 27.2 million US workers who were born outside the country last year, up 3.7% from a year earlier. That was an acceleration from 1.8% growth in 2017, and the fastest rate of foreign-born employment growth since 2012, the Journal noted.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)



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