Trump and immigration: a new Warren Harding?

Trump et l’immigration: un nouveau Warren Harding?

It is in a tweet that the president has announced his intention to protect american workers by signing a decree prohibiting the immigration.

Both attempt to comfort and political maneuvering, this presidential decree is not yet written, but we already know that we may not totally prohibit the coming of immigrants, and that there will be a lot of exemptions. Why? Because the United States has a great need of certain categories of workers, and that the lawyers of the president have not yet determined the exact extent of his power in this matter.

Despite the claims of supporters of the president, the United States already have immigration policies that are particularly severe, and to obtain a visa or a green card is not an easy task.

Those who come come to address the urgent needs of the employment market, and many studies demonstrate that the coming of these immigrants does not change anything to the situation of those who are currently unemployed. A total ban on immigration would penalise therefore, the United States, where the need to ease policy measures desired by the president.

It is necessary to understand that the announcement of Donald Trump was made in such a hurried manner, and which it seeks both to reassure his base while contributing to the realisation of the promises of the campaign 2015-2016 that he could not otherwise achieve.

The website POLITICO reported today that president Trump is not the first to exploit the theme of immigration to increase or stabilize its political capital. It has been almost a century, Warren Harding signed the Emergency quota act”. To impose severe restrictions on the immigrants, the then president, argued that the new immigrants represented a serious threat to american workers without a job.

The situation in the early 1920s was catastrophic at this point? Absolutely not. After the First world War, the United States was experiencing a rapid economic development, and they are nicknamed the “Bankers of Europe”. Remember that we are at the beginning of what is called the “roaring twenties”, the “Roaring twenties“.

True that occasionally, especially in the first two years after the war, unemployment is sometimes high for a period of growth, but the real motivation for the decree of Harding finds its origin elsewhere.

If Donald Trump plays on the feelings of anti-immigration of its most fervent supporters, a larger share of the electorate of the 1920s has long required government intervention to limit immigration. The current president took advantage of the crisis of the COVID-19 to put in place a measure that is far from making unanimity, then that Harding was faced with a true rebellion, a movement that had evolved for tens of years.

The Americans, who are demanding that their government is curbing the flow of immigrants, are from the end of the nineteenth century, a period when the country’s doors were all wide open to the flood of migrants who come to fill a great need of labour.

Ever the american government has not dared to go against the will of large industries to slow the pace and encourage better integration of newcomers in the population. Decades later, it is Harding who is confronted with the dissatisfaction of his fellow citizens.

For lovers of history, the period of the 1920s provides us with a new example of what is sometimes called the paradox of the american. While the country is going through a period of great prosperity, that we are witnessing the beginning of the consumer society and the cultural ferment reached its climax, the Americans make a withdrawal conservative, rejecting everything that is not “typically american” or WASP (white, anglo-saxon and protestant). The target easier and the most obvious of this rejection becomes immigration.

So I liked the blink of an eye history of POLITICO this morning. Yes, Harding and Trump have in common that they use a pretext of crisis to limit immigration in any significant way. In both cases, it responds to manifestations of xenophobia or racist. There are in spite of this an important distinction to note: Harding responds to a popular movement supported by a very large percentage of the population, then as Donald Trump is to reassure a small portion of the population that will vote for him in 2020.

I could not help but smile in realizing that we were comparing Warren Harding, Donald Trump. It’s not on the topic of immigration that they can relate to. Before dying unexpectedly in 1923, Harding has led one of the authorities most corrupt in history, favouring shady politicians (particularly what they call the “gang of the Ohio”) and its immediate surroundings.

If six relatives or advisors of Donald Trump have been tried and convicted before finding himself behind bars, the secretary of the Interior by Harding, Albert Fall, became in 1929 the first member of a government condemned for felony. Connected to the scandal of the Teapot Dome (1920 to 1923), he had to pay a fine of$ 100,000 and serve one year in prison.

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