clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Weeds: Donald Trump’s immigration order, explained (out loud)

Ellis Island: Repository Of Immigration History Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump’s executive order last Friday immediately revised key parts of US immigration law — slashing refugee quotas, banning all refugees from Syria, and giving priority to “religious minorities” from Muslim-majority countries.

The order has already had undeniable implications both for policy going forward and for real human lives. But the order will also have a transformative impact on something much less tangible — the symbolic standing of America as a haven for refugees and immigrants.

On the latest episode of The Weeds, Vox’s Matt Yglesias, Ezra Klein, and Dara Lind go deep on the policy implications of the executive order. (You can listen to the episode at the link below, or subscribe to the show on iTunes here.)

Here’s Dara discussing how American immigration policy became much more welcoming after it failed to accept thousands of Jewish refugees during World War II — and how America’s identity in this regard is now threatened:

I was in New York over the weekend, which is where my ancestors came in through Ellis Island. The reason that the Holocaust [refugee story] is relevant to the US right now is not just because it is a shameful chapter in US history, but because after World War II — as Americans came to terms with the fact that they could have done more but didn’t — they deliberately adopted the mantle of being the country that welcomed refugees. And for literally the entire time from World War II to now, half of all refugees who have been permanently resettled in another country have been in the United States. It's been an extremely important part of who we are — the last bit of immigration policy that actually does reflect the pedestal on the Statue of Liberty.

It's not clear if it will be this year or next year that Canada overtakes the US in being the country that allows the most refugees, but I think it’s pretty inevitable at this point under this administration. This will permanently change how the US thinks of itself, how the rest of the world thinks of the US. We have had a totally deserved mantle for the last 70 years that we gave up on Friday night. If you haven't thought about what that means for you and your relationship with your country, I would urge you to do that.

Show notes: