Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A Handful of Bad

The following, improvised in response to a question on immigration from The New York Times's Michael Schmidt, December 28 ("So you’re not moving. You’re saying I’m more likely to do deals, but I’m not moving."), dark dystopian fantasy reads like the nightmare of a man nodding off to Lou Dobbs Tonight on the Fox, though I thought Dobbs's timeslot at 7:00 was more or less cheeseburger time in the Trump White House. Trump tries to imagine what immigration is like in terms of unfamiliar but ominous words, "chain", "lottery". Note the haunting beginning, in which he seems to divide himself from himself as these apparitions of chains approach:

A Handful of Bad
by Donald Trump

I’m always moving.
I’m moving in both directions.
We have to get rid of
chainlike immigration,a
we have to get rid of the chain.b
The chain is the last guy that killed...
The last guy that killed the eight people.c
So badly wounded people.
Twenty-two peopled
came in through chain migration.
Chain migration and the lottery system.
Theye have a lottery in these countries.
They take the worst people in the countryf,
they put them into the lottery,
then they have a handful of bad,
worse ones,g and they put them out.
"Oh, these are the people the United States...”
We’re gonna get rid of the lottery,
and by the way, the Democrats agree with me
on that.h On chain migration,
they pretty much agree with me.

a An apparent reference to the "family-based" immigration system in which not only is automatic permanent residence given to the immediate relatives of US citizens (basically spouses, minor children, and parents, some 44% of the green cards issued in a given year, but beyond that non-automatic preference is given (if they make it through the petition form and consular interview) to the adult unmarried children of citizens, the spouses and minor children of those who are permanent residents themselves, their unmarried adult children, the married children of citizens, and citizens' siblings, in that order, 20%. This is referred to as "chain migration" by immigration opponents, to give the frightening picture of invading foreigners, each one linked to the one behind her, out to the crack of doom, or, putting it another way, North American life as it's been for 500 years (it's funny to think that the vast majority of Mexican immigrants, documented and undocumented, live in places that were in Mexico as recently as 1845).

This is actually a Hands Across the Sand event demanding an end to reliance on dirty energy, not necessarily including any immigrants at all.
b But to Trump it becomes a real, threatening chain: Make it go away!

c This is the Uzbekistani national Sayfullo Saipov, who mowed down a crowd of people on my side of my city last October, killing eight mostly Argentine tourists, though he wasn't "the chain", having come to the US not at the application of relatives but through the Diversity Visa Lottery established originally in 1986 to bring in more Irish immigrants, whose proportions had fallen since the 1965 reforms eliminated the traditional preference for "white countries", but has tended to bring in more people from non-traditional sources, something like half of them from Africa, and accounting for 5% of annual green cards.

d According to Donald J. Trump, addressing a cabinet meeting of November 1, Saipov sponsored or may have sponsored a "chain migration" of "as many as" 23 Uzbeks since he arrived in the United States in 2010:
"This man that came in — or whatever you want to call him — brought in, with him, other people," the President said amidst a discussion of proposed changes to immigration policy. "And he was a point, he was the point of contact — the primary point of contact for, and this is preliminarily — 23 people that came in, or potentially came in with him."
I should point out that it is extremely unlikely that he actually brought in anybody, since as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, his closest living relatives are two parents and a 17-year-old sister all living in Tashkent, his wife whom he met in the US, and their three children all born here. I'm not saying the president of the United States is lying, I'm saying—oh, fuck it, of course I'm saying he's lying, are you kidding?

e The program is run by the US State Department. The actual lottery is run on a computer in Kentucky.

f Applicants need to have a high school diploma and Internet access (through their own computers or an Internet café), but no special level of wickedness is required...

g ...And the computer selects them randomly—that's how lotteries work—so it's literally impossible for them to select especially bad ones.

h Wrong on that one too.

Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner writes, of the first four stanzas ("Why Hasn't Michael Wolff's Dementia-Trump Ever Been Seen in Public?"),
That doesn’t read like a mentally impaired geriatric’s interview. More accurately, it reads like someone who can speak casually about policy and assumes his audience has some grasp of it, too.
I don't know about that. The interviews I'm finding with elderly dementia patients, by medical personnel, social workers, family members, tend to be mostly about the experience of dementia, of which the patients are aware, not about their plans for overhauling the immigration system, so it's not really easy to compare, but I'd say it reads like someone bullshitting at a relatively low skill level, as if he was confident nobody was going to call him out, knowing nothing about the subject but expecting the audience not to know much more. And also kind of demented, naturally.

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