Three-quarters of Americans think that an immigrant’s country of origin shouldn’t matter

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Originally published by The Washington Post

In theory, President Trump’s objection to broad-based immigration is that we want only the best people to come to the United States. That itself is flawed, since there are an awful lot of great Americans whose immigrant forebears were less notable. One guy from Germany moved to the Yukon and opened a hotel-slash-brothel, building a sizable fortune that allowed his family to invest in real estate when he returned to New York. His grandson is now president.

But that argument also falls apart a bit when you consider Trump’s actual inclinations about allowing immigrants into the country. In a meeting earlier this month, he infamously rejected immigrants from Haiti and Africa out-of-hand simply by virtue of the countries they came from, while arguing that immigrants from Norway would necessarily be welcome in the United States. There’s a subtext to that line of thinking that was immediately obvious to a lot of people, but it does bear mentioning that it also runs contrary to his purported position on immigration. What about good Haitians and bad Norwegians? No exceptions?

So this, then, seems to be Trump’s actual position: There should be a checklist of countries from which immigration is allowed — and a set of mostly Muslim countries from which no one should be allowed at all.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that Americans disagree with this idea.

The pollsters asked two questions. The first was whether immigration from diverse countries improved or worsened the United States. Three-quarters of Americans said such immigration made the country better — including 6-in-10 Republicans.

Quinnipiac also asked if people from some countries were more deserving of immigrating to the United States than others. Again, more than three-quarters of Americans said that country of origin shouldn’t matter — including 57 percent of Republicans.

That number — for Republicans — was the worst of any demographic group Quinnipiac broke out. Meaning that even among white men and whites without college degrees — two key parts of Trump’s base — more respondents held the position contrary to the one displayed by Trump in regards to Haiti and Africa. (Among whites without college degrees, 68 percent felt that diverse immigration made America better and 70 percent thought country of origin shouldn’t matter. Among white men, the numbers were 74 percent and 72 percent, respectively.)

Setting aside the general vagueness of the question — would mentions of Haiti in particular warrant as strong a response? — this suggests that Trump’s position on immigration from the countries he disparaged isn’t even specifically aimed at meeting the desires of his core supporters. It’s a subset of that group that would respond positively to dismissing immigration from certain developing countries outright.

Such a policy might mean, say, limiting the number of migrants from Africa who come to study in American universities. One of whom became the father of the man who held Trump’s position from 2009 until one year ago.

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