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Facing Up to the Racist Legacy of America's Immigration Laws []


By Reece Jones, The New York Times, October 28, 2021

The searing images of Border Patrol agents on horseback charging at unarmed Haitian men and women shocked many Americans last month, including President Biden. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said, “He believes the footage and photos are horrific. They don’t represent who we are as a country.” Many Democrats made the same argument during the Trump administration, condemning a series of harsh anti-immigrant policies, from the Muslim ban to the separation of children from their families, as “not who we are” and “not what America represents.”

And yet despite promises made on the campaign trail, the Biden administration has been surprisingly slow to unwind the Trump administration’s restrictions on immigration. Mr. Biden has kept the public health law Title 42 in place, which allows for the swift expulsion of migrants encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border. He has also presided over the lowest number of refugees admitted to the United States since the passage of the Refugee Act in 1980 — a total of only 11,445 refugees in the 2021 budget year.

The truth is that the mass deportation of nonwhite people and immigration bans based on nationality, religion or race are quintessentially American. From the beginning, the United States was built on the dual foundation of open immigration for whites from Northern Europe and racial subordination and exclusion of enslaved people from Africa, Native Americans and, eventually, immigrants from other parts of the world.

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