It’s Not Just about Border Security

There is a general anti-immigrant current in this administration.

Two stories that underscore that this administration is not just worried about the MS-13 hordes.

First, via NPR:  White House Launches Effort To Take Citizenship From Those Who Lied To Get It

To understand what that means and to put it in context, we’re joined by Mae Ngai. She’s a professor of history at Columbia University.


CHANG: Is what the Trump administration doing here new? I mean, is there historical precedent for devoting resources like this to trying to detect citizenship fraud?

NGAI: The last time the federal government tried to denaturalize citizens was during the McCarthy period. And they went after people who they were accusing of being Communists who were naturalized citizens. And they took away their citizenship and deported them. It wasn’t that many people because, actually, it’s not that easy to do. But that was the last time that there was a concerted effort. So it’s been…


NGAI: …Almost 75 years…


NGAI: …Since the government has tried to do it. And I think most people would say that the Red Scare, or the McCarthy period, was not the nation’s proudest moment.

Second, via the AP:  AP NewsBreak: US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits

Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.


Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army said that, due to the pending litigation, they were unable to explain the discharges or respond to questions about whether there have been policy changes in any of the military branches.

I would recommend reading both pieces in full.

The xenophobia is strong in this administration–and a lot of people are suffering as a result.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. MBunge says:
  2. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @MBunge: No follow up: As there should by any story from twitchy

  3. Jen says:

    It’s disturbing that the only thing this administration appears to be competent at is the application of xenophobia.

    From a practical perspective, neither of these activities is smart policy. We’ve had recruitment problems for years; removing thousands of young men and women who want to serve is not going to help matters at all. And on the “denaturalization” front, just what do they think they are going to accomplish with that? There’s already a mechanism to strip someone of citizenship if they lied on their application, but it’s typically only used in extreme cases. Didn’t our First Lady fib a bit on her application?

    This administration is flat-out evil.

  4. Hal_10000 says:


    This is the one time when Bunge is right (yes, I know, stopped clock and all that). Don’t let the link to Twitchy make you less skeptical. Within are links to articles from mainstream press indicating that these discharges are not new. Soldiers were being bumped out of the program under the Obama Admin for lying on applications or failing background checks and it looks like, by 2016, the program was on the outs.

    So I’m going to withhold more comment until we’re sure there’s something to be outraged about here.

    (The denaturalization effort, however, is unquestionably vile.)

  5. @Hal_10000: James’ post seems to me to have corroborative information.

  6. Hal_10000 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yep, just saw that. It would have been helpful if the AP had included that in the initial reporting.

  7. Kathy says:

    It’s not about border security at all.

    Looking at it objectively, there’s no real threat to secure the border against in the first place.

    Yes, there are drug traffickers, but 1) they don’t seem to be a priority, and 2) when the drugs came from South america, they found no serious impediment getting through.

    After 9/11, I had expected terrorists to make their way to Mexico to cross illegally into the US, but thus far I know of none that have. I know of a few coming in from Canada, where there seems to be little concern for the border (until, perhaps, illegal steel and aluminum begin showing up).

    If you think people looking for work are a threat, there’s something terribly wrong with your morals. Doubly so when you think people seeking asylum are a kind of threat.

    It’s well known how securing the border in the 80s led to a large, permanent undocumented population. One may find it ironic, or hilarious, that a policy meant to keep mostly temporary seasonal workers out resulted in keeping them in for longer periods. But apparently few people, especially in politics, find it enlightening, as they keep doubling and tripling down on such a failed policy.

    To give you an imperfect analogy: if you set the speed limit at 15 mph, so many people would go over it that you couldn’t issue fines to all, even though you would end up issuing tickets to a great many, some travelling only a few mph above the limit. You’d also miss most of those driving at really dangerous speeds, likely to get into accidents, because they’d be harder and more time-consuming to catch. The solution wouldn’t be to lower the speed limit to 10 mph.