By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on April 13, 2019
On Friday, Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot shocked the nation by openly declaring that undocumented migrants and asylum seekers in U.S. custody are always welcomed to her city, even if President Donald Trump is the one sending them there. This bold statement was made in response to a recent threat Trump made to ship asylum seekers who exceeded their 20 days in custody to Democratically-controlled sanctuary cities nationwide. Chicago is one such city.
In 1950, Chicago’s population was 3.6 million. Today, the city’s population has dropped to 2.7 million. Chicago’s tax base has taken a big hit as a result of this decline in population.
Chicago needs a boost in its population to become vibrant again. As discussed below, Lightfoot may have found a viable solution to the city’s rapidly declining population and tax base problems.
Demonizing Migrants of Color
Trump has spent his entire presidency demonizing migrants of color from Central and South American countries and from African countries, including those who apply for entry into America through designated ports of entry. Trump has painted all of these migrants – men, women and children -- as “thugs," “drug-dealers," and “gang members.” He has labeled their place of national origin as “shithole countries.”
In a controversial move that weaponized America’s immigration system, Trump implemented a family separation policy that separated thousands of young children from their migrant parents and placed them in cages. Trump also authorized border patrol officials to break America’s immigration laws in their treatment of migrants of color with an openly stated promise that these lawbreakers will receive a presidential pardon for engaging in such unlawful conduct.
Trump’s increasing demonization of migrants of color and his brutal crackdown on their efforts to seek American citizenship constitute inhumane political responses to a 2018 Brookings Institute report that projects America will become “minority white” in 2045. During that year, whites will comprise 49.7% of the population in contrast to 24.6% for Hispanics, 13.1% for blacks, 7.9% for Asians, and 3.8% for multiracial populations. The Institute’s first report on this subject in 2014 projected that the tipping point would occur in 2044.
Among the minority populations, the greatest growth is projected for multiracial populations, Asians and Hispanics with 2018–2060 growth rates of 176%, 93%, and 86%, respectively. The projected growth rate for blacks is 34%.
During this time frame, the aging white population will see a modest immediate gain through 2024, and then experience a long-term decline through 2060, a consequence of more deaths than births.
Trump’s crackdown on migrants of color is aimed at slowing or stopping the “Browning of America.”
Disparate Treatment Based Upon Skin Color and Place of National Origin
Trump’s political response to America’s recent fixation with its “immigration problem” does not apply to white migrants from Europe. In fact, during a January 2018 meeting with lawmakers in the Oval Office, Trump referred to Haiti and countries in Africa as “shithole countries” and called for more immigrants from places like Norway. Of course, Norway is a European country with an 83% white population.
Furthermore, Trump’s disparate treatment of migrants of color is best measured by how he treated First Lady Melania Trump’s parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs. The Knavs, who made their first trip to America from the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia in February 2004, took their oaths to become Americans in August 2018 after the First Lady sponsored their green cards. Slovenia has a population that is more than 88% white.
The Knavs were not fleeing gang violence, political persecution, or abject poverty in Slovenia. Instead, the Knavs, who are white, had a "hook-up" in the White House. They are European immigrants who benefited from the “chain migration” which Trump has repeatedly denounced for immigrants of color. Under “chain migration,” a single immigrant who becomes a U.S. citizen may sponsor an unlimited number of other relatives for green cards and citizenship.
Against this backdrop of disparate treatment in the application of America’s immigration laws based upon the color and national origin of the migrants in question, it was refreshing to hear Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot proclaim: “We have people who are routinely coming to this city. We have a whole infrastructure that’s built up to make sure that their rights are protected while the city of Chicago has, under the current administration, provided funding for various groups to help support asylum seekers and other people that are going through the immigration court system. I expect it will continue, if not expand upon, those kinds of resources.”
Except for Native Americans, all other Americans are descendants of immigrants. Many of these immigrants were brought to America as African slaves, white indentured servants, and English prisoners.
Given this history, there is no rational and/or legal basis for treating today’s migrants and asylum seekers differently from European migrants based upon their skin color and place of national origin.
Despite Trump’s Political Rhetoric, America is not “Full”
During his trip to a U.S. Border Patrol station in California on April 5, 2019, Trump made it clear that the U.S. would not accept any more immigrants from Central and South American countries. He declared: “Can't take you anymore - we can't take you. Our country is full. Our area's full. The sector is full - can't take you anymore. I'm sorry.”
Trump repeated his "Our country is full" declaration twice in the same speech.
Afterwards, Trump threatened to send the migrants in U.S. custody to self-declared sanctuary cities. Although Trump was motivated by pure political retribution against Democrats who control sanctuary cities, Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot stepped forward and said: "We are a city that is a sanctuary city. We have immigrants from all over the world who call Chicago their home. They’ll continue to do that, and we’re going to continue to make sure that this is truly a welcoming community for those immigrants and we want them to come to the city of Chicago.”
If Trump delivers the detained migrants to Chicago, this move will aid in solving America’s immigration problem and will provide Chicago with a viable option to regain a productive, responsible, and growing population. Contrary to the broad-brush, negative racist stereotypes Trump has painted about migrants from Central and South American countries and from “shithole countries” in Africa, the American experience with immigrants from these countries has shown that they go on to become the hardest working, most law-abiding, socially-responsible, civic-minded, successful, and patriotic members of American society.
Unlike some of America’s most violent homegrown psychopaths and serial killers, these migrants are not likely to commit the mass murders of: (a) elementary, junior high, and high school children, (b) community college and university students, (c) personnel working on military bases in the U.S., (d) movie theater patrons, (e) civilian workplace employees, (f) assembled members of church congregations, (g) synagogue worshippers, (h) Las Vegas concert attendees, (i) young girls and women, and (j) other innocent American murder victims. This kind of horrific criminal activity is most often found within the ranks of native-born, white Americans who seemingly enjoy some form of National Rifle Association-sponsored political protection in Washington to acquired and possess their weapons of mass destruction.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot should move forward with this opportunity to rebuild Chicago with men, women, and children who: (a) fled gang violence, political persecution, and abject poverty in Central and South America and in African countries, (b) risked their lives traveling to America, and (c) want the same opportunity to become productive American citizens that is routinely extended to white migrants from European countries. There is plenty of room for migrants and asylum seekers with these qualifications in American sanctuary cities that have experienced a severe decline in population due to decades of white flight to the suburbs.
This can be a win-win solution for Lori Lightfoot, the City of Chicago (and other cities similarly situated), Donald Trump, and America. Embrace it.
PHOTO: In a paradigm-shifting approach to America's "immigration problem," Chicago Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot welcomes detained migrants and asylum seekers to her city. These new residents just might help Chicago regain its lost population in a very productive and responsible way.