© 2021 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Past and Present

'Make America White Again' | Past & Present


Long before Donald Trump made profane comments about restricting the number of immigrants from certain countries to the U.S., the history of American immigration policy possessed explicit racial characteristics.

For instance, the United States’ first immigration law, the Naturalization Act of 1790, stated that only “any alien, being a free white person” could apply for citizenship.

Besides characterizing people from non-white areas of the globe as being undesirable immigration candidates, Trump also declared that people from places like Norway should be encouraged to re-settle in the United States. History, once again, links past with present in this regard.

As America developed into an industrial power during the late nineteenth century, massive European immigration to the U.S. was actively encouraged and promoted. Simultaneously, as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 attests, the United States consciously sought to restrict the number of non-whites residing here.

In 1965, Congress eliminated much of the earlier, race-based, restrictions placed upon immigration. Consequently, the percentage of America’s non-white population has increased while the percentage of America’s white population has decreased. This demographic reality is seemingly very disturbing to Trump and his supporters.

Trump’s fixation with restricting the number of non-white immigrants to the U.S. gives further credence to the belief held by the current head of the Congressional Black Caucus (and others) that the “Make America Great Again” mantra is actually code language calling to “Make America White Again.”