In the same week that it was revealed that the Department of Injustice is spearheading attacks on affirmative action, our 45th president indicated his support for legislation that would drastically change our nation’s immigration policy.
According to legislation sponsored by Republican Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, applicants for legal immigration earn points based on education, high-paying job offers, entrepreneurial ability (including the ability to invest in the US), high achievement (Nobel Prize winners are welcome) and age (bring on the young).
Presently, about a million people are granted green cards, but the Cotton-Perdue legislation would cut the number by half within a decade. And the “diversity lottery” that admits 50,000 people each year would be eliminated. A significant number of African immigrants, among others, are admitted through the diversity lottery.
The Cotton-Perdue legislation provides affirmative action for wealthy immigrants. If you have a high-paying job offer, or money to invest, or entrepreneurial ability, you’ve got a better chance of getting in than if you are a high-school grad who would be sponsored by her sibling. Why is this affirmative action? Because affirmative action says that when all else is equal, you choose a preference for a certain group.
In higher education, the preference – all else equal – is for those who have been historically excluded and systematically discriminated against.
When affirmative action policies were initially developed, they were designed to favor African-Americans and other underrepresented minorities. In practical terms, White women have often been the primary beneficiaries of affirmative action, especially in the workplace.
Forty-five and his posse support preferences in immigration, but oppose them when it comes to higher education and employment. The administration’s positions on both affirmative action and immigration are winks and nods to 45’s base – the nativist White people who irrationally oppose immigration and feel that Whites experience more discrimination than do African-Americans.
Their beliefs cannot be verified by economic data that indicate that African-American people experience more unemployment, have lower incomes, less wealth and less education.
Equally educated African-Americans take twice as long to find new jobs as Whites do. Beyond economic matters, basic quality of life issues (such as police violence) are harsher for African-Americans than for Whites.
Holding a grudge
If 45 and his crew can state their preferences for immigration policy, why can’t institutions of higher education state their preferences for admissions policy? The problem is that 45 has hired these inferior and aggrieved White people like Candice Jackson, who works in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Education.
While a Stanford student, Jackson was a staunch critic of affirmative action. She has also said, rather callously, that most accusations of campus rape are related to alcohol or the end of relationships. She is exactly the wrong type of person to lead an office of civil rights.
It is not clear why Jackson was hired, but she has the right ideological credentials – she wrote a book about “the women targeted by the Clinton machine,” worked for the conservative Judicial Watch organization, and has an axe to grind against feminists and those who support racial economic justice. Charging this woman with defending civil rights is the same as charging Scott Pruitt with protecting the environment!
Forty-five and his colleagues would probably support the same kind of affirmative action in college admissions as they support for immigration. If you have money, are an entrepreneur, or have already achieved, then you deserve admission. If not, that’s just too bad.
Are we facing the end of affirmative action and the end of immigration fairness? Most likely, unless we resist.
Every day it becomes clearer that 45 will attempt to implement drastic structural change unless our legislative process is altered by the 2018 elections. Meanwhile, 45 is throwing red meat at the braying dogs of racism and xenophobia. And the dogs are barking at those of us who believe in justice and fairness.
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com.