U.S.A. — Migrant crackdown by Western nations is rooted in centuries of racist science – By Mohamed Hamaludin

  Immigration policy is usually regarded as a political matter but a much more sinister motive has existed for centuries due to studies by scientists and others who, starting in the 1700s, have strived mightily to prove that foreigners are less than human and, if allowed to immigrate, would pollute the nation.

Journalist and author Sonia Shah,in her book “The Next Great Migration,” traced the work of scientists who pursued such research, including French naturalist George Luis Leclerc Comte de Buffon: “As people and species migrated from the Garden of Eden, Buffon theorized, new diets and climates ‘degenerated’ them.     

Because the Garden of Eden had been located somewhere near Europe, Europeans retained much of their original state of perfection.” As for Africans, Asians and Latinos, their “migrations into too-hot and too-cold climates had turned them into the misshapen, morally questionable creatures described by 18th century voyagers.”

The debate about assumed inferiority, based mostly on studies of animals and plants, took place in Europe but inevitably reached the United States, where European Americans had already decided that most other peoples were not their equal. At the Second International Conference of Eugenics held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City in September 1921, “the most critical scientific question … concerned the fundamental biological problem posed by immigration – the biology of race-mixing,” Shah said.

The conclusions were sent to Republican Rep. Albert Johnson of Washington state, then chairman of the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. During consideration of the ensuing immigration bill, some Congress members talked about keeping the blood of America “pure,” that “We are a different race” and that “immigrants will vitiate our population” – spoil it. President Calvin Coolidge signed the Immigration Act of 1924, also known as the National Origins Act, designed to drastically curtail immigration. “America must be kept American,” he proclaimed. As with his “stolen election” claim, President Donald Trump was not original on this either.

But Trump blended in nicely with his insistence that most migrants were “criminals” and the U.S. Border Patrol devised tortuous ways to produce the evidence, including a 2015 policy which Shah described: “Instead of counting the number of agents assaulted, as most other experts did and as they had done in the past, officials started counting the number of agents assaulted, multiplied by the numbers of attackers, multiplied by the number of objects the attackers used in the assault. If a few migrants threw a couple of rocks or sticks at some Border Patrol agents, each rock and each stick thrown by each migrant counted as a separate incident.” So, after six people pelted a group of seven Border Patrol agents on Feb.14, 2017, officials “logged that single incident as 126 separate assaults.”

The debate on population control has stubbornly persisted, including in the book “The Population Bomb” by noted scientist Paul Ehrlich, who subsequently recanted his assertion that immigration equals doom — but not before his Zero Population Growth movement led to horrific policies, no tab in India.

Opthalmologist John Tanton of Michigan, in 1979, started the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) which spawned the Center for Immigration Studies, Numbers USA, USA English and the Social Contract Press. Racists in Europe and, later, the United States became enamored of French sociologist Jean Raspail’s revolting novel “The Camp of the Saints,” which, Shah said, European American nationalist Steve Bannon, a one-time Trump chief strategist, called “prescient and visionary.” In fact, Shah noted, many of the officials whom Trump installed to devise and implement immigration policies, were senior staff at FAIR. They included Kelllyanne Conway, Julie Kirchner, Kris Kobach and Robert Law.

President Joe Biden embraces a more humane approach acknowledging the immigration roots of the nation, that  “Immigration is essential to who we are as a nation, our core values, and our aspirations for our future” and that foreign-born workers contribute $2 trillion annually to the economy.

In pursuing his policy, Biden must also focus on a category of migrants who, except for the well-publicized crackdown on Haitians, have received little notice. Immigrants of African descent, while less than 5.4 percent of undocumented immigrants, faced10.6 percent of all deportation proceedings between 2003 and 2015, independent journalist Jack Herrera noted in a recent Nation article, citing data from the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). President Barack Obama was partly to blame.

“Decades of over-criminalization of Black communities had resulted in higher rates of conviction for Black people, which, when paired with Obama’s emphasis on people with criminal records, led in turn to higher rates of deportation for Black migrants,” Herrera said. “By 2015, more than one out of every five people facing deportation due to a criminal conviction was Black, despite making up just 7.2 percent of the total noncitizen population, documented or not.”

Jamaicans topped the list of rejected asylum seekers in the early 2000s,at 92 percent, Herrera reported. The American Bar Association noted that Somalis had the highest rejection rate in 2017. Also, asylum-seekers can be required to post a bond to avoid being detained. Herrera found that the amounts tend to be higher for people from the Caribbean and Africa, sometimes as much as $50,000, which most cannot pay. A Rwandan spent 10 years in a detention center – the longest ever – and a Kenyan nine years, though the average is 55 days, Herrera reported. Also, asylum-seekers of African descent comprise four percent of all detainees but were24 percent of all who were placed in solitary confinement from 2012 to 2017.

Few Americans may be familiar with the studies which led some scientists to warn against “race mixing” through immigration. But those studies, long since debunked, were used to justify genocide against Indigenous Peoples, enslavement of Africans and a racist criminal justice system to control them and centuries of brutal colonial conquest, occupation and destabilization– a key driver of immigration.

Knowledge of what caused racist hatred to be embedded in the psyche of some people could help to eventually bring the curtain down on this tragic chapter of American and human history generally.

Mohamed Hamaludin is a Guyana-born journalist who worked for several years at The Guyana Chronicle in the 1970s and on publications in the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands before emigrating in 1984 to the United States, where he worked at The Miami Times, the Miami Herald and the South Florida Times.  Though now retired, he writes a commentary every week or two for The South Florida Times (sfltimes.com) in which the above column first appeared. He may be reached at hamal1942@gmail.com.

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  • Dennis Albert  On 04/16/2021 at 1:49 pm

    The hypocrisy of the melanin-deprived people of the Caucus mountains who subscribe to racism:

    “We don’t want immigrants, but we need foreign immigrants to buy my house for millions of dollars”

    “We don’t want immigrants, but I plan to retire in Costa Rica, Ecuador or Thailand and displace the locals using my white privilege”

    “We don’t want immigrants, but we need immigrants to rent my properties”.

    NEVER FORGET that the Europeans almost wiped away the Native Amerindian population by bringing in small pox from the overcrowded slums of Europe.

  • WIC  On 04/17/2021 at 1:00 am

    Guyana can be a leader in reversing the above, by taking in all those displaced by the volcanic eruption in St. Vincent.

    • Dennis Albert  On 04/17/2021 at 1:23 am

      Former President Granger would have done that in a heartbeat because he’s pro-CARICOM and was willing to help the hurricane victims in the Bahamas.

      The neo-liberal fake Marxist PPP aims for one thing, and that is the consolidation of power.

      They want PPP voters. They assume that certain nationalities or groups are PNC or APNU.

  • Kman  On 04/17/2021 at 8:52 pm

    did not know that racism is a science.

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