The Eugenic Foundations of Trump’s Policies

Last week, Trump called El Salvador, Haiti, and countries in the African continent “shithole countries,” and suggested that the United States should welcome more immigrants from Norway instead of the countries he insulted. Trump’s pejorative comment was racist and drew both domestic and international outrage. One particular critic, Stanford professor Ann Minian described the comment as a form of eugenics. If immigration and births are the ways to shape a population, then behind Trump’s comment is the desire to build a nation with white and wealthy people from places like Norway instead of immigrants of color from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. This includes keeping people of color from entering the United States, driving them out in droves, and preventing them from leading successful lives in this country.

This eugenic viewpoint on immigration has informed Trump’s policies since his first day in office. Over the last year, Trump has sought to curb immigration for people who originated from non-white countries, starting with the refugee limits and Muslim bans in January, followed by DACA’s phase-out in September, and most recently ending Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans. This week, Trump is threatening to shut the government down because of his unwillingness to compromise on DACA, despite promising to sign a clean DACA bill last week. His administration’s actions harken back to the racist immigration policies of the 1920s, when entry to the United States was restricted for immigrants of Asian, Jewish, and Italian origin in favor of Anglo-Saxon immigrants.

Trumpian eugenics doesn’t just exist in immigration policy; it is also rooted in Trump’s view that economic success is genetically inherent. Therefore, only economically successful – codeword “superior” – people should be rewarded and allowed to proliferate this country. Trump’s tax and healthcare policies embody this perverse idea. Commentators have derided the costly Republican tax reform bill as generational theft by the Baby Boomers, but in reality, the debt this country incurs will be saddled primarily on the backs of poor youth. Trump’s tax reform in December was a massive transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich that will exacerbate intergenerational inequality.  One particularly pernicious part of the tax reform was an expansion of the child tax credit that favored wealthy children over poor children. Together with the Republicans’ reluctance to renew funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Trump administration has displayed open disdain for helping poor, primarily children of color while ensuring a privileged future for children already born with a silver spoon in their mouths.

Trump’s “Make America Great Again” is an insidious, nostalgic call for a barbaric time in history when economic and social policies that favored one desirable race meant that white families in the United States could freely enter the country, proliferate, and thrive, while families of color were excluded from reaping the rewards of this country’s prosperity. Whether the issue is healthcare, immigration, disaster relief, or tax reform, Trump’s slogan has infiltrated the Republican Party and has created population control agenda that guarantees the supremacy of white and wealthy families. Unless the legislative tide turns in 2018, Americans should expect to endure more of Trump’s eugenic policies, dooming poor and minority families to bear the fiscal costs and demographic destruction for generations to come.

Michael Manansala is an international development and public policy professional who is passionate about building and empowering young leaders all over the world. He currently resides in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter @mkmanansala.

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