Analysis | Trump’s daughter-in-law offers up some English-language nativism

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There is nothing new about former President Donald Trump’s nativism. Although the target number of refugees has changed, the rhetoric about the refugee crisis is outdated. Demands for newcomers to assimilate so that they don’t threaten American culture and traditions can be picked out of political discourse for more than a century. A century ago, politicians like Trump warned of the threat Italian-speaking anarchists posed to the republic. What has changed is mostly descriptive.

It is no surprise then that one of Trump’s closest allies, his daughter-in-law Lara Trump, is married to Eric Trump. He went on Newsmax To raise one of the most common warnings about immigrants: they don’t speak English.

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In the year During his 2016 presidential bid, Trump announced that his father-in-law’s first campaign promise focused on immigration. This is true; Even then, Trump acknowledged the political power of spreading right-wing xenophobia, which his opponents refused to acknowledge. She warned of possible dangers posed by immigrants, a The latest small talk style Aim to take President Biden Like negligence.

And then she got into the “globalists.”

“You have a lot of elites around the world — not just here in America, but around the world, who think we should have this free flow of people, who think there shouldn’t be borders. They have this idea of ​​globalism in mind. This is ultimately the goal of all of this here.

Again, this isn’t really new. Immigrants here and elsewhere are somehow eroding national identities and dancing around the idea that international elites are deliberately facilitating this in Lara Trump’s frame. If it is not a “grand replacement theory”, then it is beside the point.

After Newsmax host Eric Bolling suggested that immigrants identify with a number of constitutional amendments, Trump, of course, said, “Whenever you’re a citizen of another country, you have to be a part of a community.”

This, she said, was evident in bilingual education.

We’ve had a lot of people coming from South America, Central America, South America, so you’re starting to see now in a lot of school systems where people teach in English and they teach in Spanish. “Mexico and they have to flood our education system so they have a way to educate these kids,” Trump said. “I mean, this is the United States of America. We speak English here, but wherever you go in this country, Eric, and you’ll find everything in English, you’ll find it in Spanish.

This argument has been rejected many times. While most US residents speak English, there is no official language under federal law. That created an opportunity for people who wanted to touch the same sentiments as Trump (Lara and her mother-in-law). Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), for example; Introduced In March, a law made English the country’s official language.

2010 Congressional Research Service Report Notes The push for English as a national language can be traced back to the mid-1980s. This makes sense at the time. According to Census Bureau data, about 9 out of 10 US residents spoke English in 1980, a percentage that dropped to about 86 percent in 1990.

In the year In 2000, however, the percentages were fairly stable. That year, 82 percent of respondents reported speaking English at home. By 2022, the figure was 78 percent. In the year The percentage of Spanish speakers rose from about 11 percent in 2000 to 13 percent last year.

In the year In 1910, 95 percent of US residents reported speaking English at home. Most of the rest spoke some European language. Immigration laws were tightened a decade later—in part because of concerns about immigrants from Asia and those anarchists—and were only loosened in the 1960s. Since then, Asian languages ​​have surpassed native Europeans.

At the state level, there has been no significant change in the number of English speakers over the past 15 years. On average, the percentage of state residents who reported speaking English at home fell 1.7 percentage points to 85 percent. In the year States that voted for Donald Trump in 2020 (shown by red arrows below) had higher average English speakers in 2022. About 89 percent of red-state residents speak English at home, compared to 80 percent of blue-state residents.

Partisan politics has reached a very high level. Pew Research Center found In the year In 2019, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to say they were uncomfortable hearing non-English speakers. A fifth of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) said hearing someone speak another language bothers them “a lot”; Nearly half said it bothers them at least some. Nearly 6 in 10 Democrats say they don’t mind.

It is difficult to evaluate Lara Trump’s claims about schools with the current data. They certainly are. Legendary reports About schools and teachers struggling to accommodate non-English-speaking children during the boom in immigration over the past few years. But it’s important to note that Department of Education data shows the number of children receiving English-as-a-second-language (ESL) instruction. It was flat From 2009 to 2020, percentage of Spanish-speaking students.

From the beginning of Federal Budget 2021 (in October 2020) to October this year, About 455,000 children They are stranded at the US-Mexico border, many of them seeking asylum with their families. That number equates to 1 in 11 children receiving ESL instruction in 2020, although it’s unclear how many of those children will stay in the United States or speak English. Nor, indeed, does eliminating Spanish-language resources in schools improve education or reduce any accommodation struggles.

Lara Trump’s goal, presumably, is not to offer a policy position focused on tackling the complex and challenging immigration system. Instead, it’s about highlighting immigration concerns related to her father-in-law’s base of support and framing those concerns as Biden’s impeachment.

At one point, she echoed Bolling’s assertion that “we need a system to vet people,” which she suggested was the case with asylum seekers. In fact, a central part of the strain on the government’s ability to process recent immigrants is the inadequate and slow asylum process through which those immigrants are vetted despite their claims to remain in the United States. Trump’s argument, however, was that we need to make sure people arrive “for the right reasons.”

“That’s not racist, that’s not xenophobic, that’s not … bigoted,” Bolling replied. “It’s about keeping your community together.”

The idea that immigrants need to prove they’re not a danger, say, by speaking a language other than English that risks tearing society apart – that’s textbook xenophobia. It’s also an era in which the United States survived, in the less strict, all-comers era of Ellis Island immigration, presented as a fear.

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