Washington Favored Skilled Immigrants

The Quote Below: More Misinformation from the Media

“In the Rose Garden last week, President Donald Trump unveiled his administration’s long-awaited immigration-policy overhaul, designed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner to unite Republicans on the issue before 2020. The president, in a rare display of eloquence, said he wants the U.S. to ‘become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind.’

“Wait a minute. That was George Washington, America’s first president, the general and military strategist who led the colonies in a successful eight-year rebellion against King George. Our nation’s most heroic founder believed that immigrants ‘whatever nation’ or station of life they may come from should be welcomed in the newly formed United States and allowed to ‘settle themselves in comfort, freedom and ease in some corner of the vast regions of America.’

“What Trump said in the Rose Garden was this: ‘Democrats are proposing open-borders, lower wages, and frankly, lawless chaos. We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages, and safety of American workers first.’ So much for what Washington called the ‘persecuted part of mankind.’

The Trump proposal would largely replace the current family-based system that enables immigrants to sponsor their relatives with a system that favors highly skilled, ‘financially self-sufficient’ immigrants. . . This runs counter to Washington’s vision of America as an ‘asylum’ for the ‘persecuted. . . .’ “ – Were the Founders in Favor of Immigration? Yes, Editorial, Dallas Morning News, 5/22/19 [Link]

Fact Check of Quote: This article, with selective use of Washington’s quotes, gives the impression that our first president was a proponent of massive and indiscriminate immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth. A full and balanced understanding of what he thought about immigration is in a letter he wrote to John Adams in 1794. In that communication Washington stated:

“My opinion with respect to emigration is, that except of useful mechanic’s—and some particular descriptions of men—or professions—there is no need of extra encouragement: while the policy, or advantage of its taking place in a body (I mean the settling of them in a body) may be much questioned; for by so doing they retain the language, habits & principles (good or bad) which they bring with them; whereas, by an intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, manners and laws: in a word, soon become one people.”

Thus we see that Washington was in basic agreement with what President Trump is saying today, namely that priority should be given to immigrants with useful skills. Our first president was willing to accept other types of immigrants, he but saw no reason to encourage them. Washington believed that assimilation was of crucial importance to maintain national unity. He saw that immigrants arriving in a large body would make assimilation difficult, with those immigrants retaining their “habits & principles.”

Washington’s views reflected wisdom and common sense. It a shame that this sense isn’t so common today, particularly in our “mainstream” media.


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