Chuck Schumer: ‘We’re Nothing If We’re Not a Nation of Immigrants’

Immigrants Are America
Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Top Senate Democrats made an emotional case Thursday asserting the United States must be a nation of immigrants.

“We’re nothing if we’re not a nation of immigrants,” Democrat leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y, told an online meeting of pro-migration business leaders. “Immigrants built this country with their hands, enriched our culture with their minds and spirit, and provided the spark that drives our economy.”

Schumer outlined to the American Business Immigration Coalition he named his second daughter after Emma Lazarus, the author of a pro-migration poem that was added to the huge statue in New York harbor that celebrates the federal victory in the U.S. Civil war:

Many of you may not know this; My middle name is Ellis. Guess what? I was named after Uncle Ellis, who was named after Ellis Island, and in keeping with that tradition, our second daughter, we chose her middle name to be Emma for the poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote on this pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses yearning to be free.” So this is in my bones as a New Yorker, as someone whose grandparents immigrated to the country in search of a better life.

New York’s elite has built the city’s economy on lower-wage, illegal migrant labor. California and Texas have followed a similar strategy, but most states rely on skilled and ordinary Americans to grow their economies, develop new products, and also birth and train the next generation of workers.

Deleware Democrat Sen. Chris Coons also professed his faith in immigration and diversity, saying:

iI have a fundamental view of the United States as a nation of immigrants, a nation where immigration is an absolutely critical competitive advantage that we have globally. It helps to weave together our culture out of many different strands and threads from throughout the world, and it helps to make us stronger, more vibrant, more innovative, more secure, and more prosperous. We are just finishing four years of a President with a strongly different and competing view, and it’s my hope that as we look forward to 2021, we’ll be able to find a bipartisan group that can lead in the Senate of the United States on immigration reform.

Schumer’s deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., made the same pro-migrant pitch saying, “We should have refugee settlement… they ought to be given a chance to come out into an area where they won’t be persecuted, and have an opportunity to live their life.”

In November 2019, Durbin told another group of pro-migration activists about his mother’s naturalization certificate:

That [certificate] sits behind my desk with the little receipt in the corner of it, as a reminder of who I am and how lucky I am to be here because of my immigrant grandparents who had the courage to leave everything behind, come to a place where they didn’t even speak the language in the hopes that future generations in their family would have a better life. So that’s how I got started.

The United States is a “Nation of Immigrants” claim promoted in the late 1950s by progressives and by then-Sen. John Kennedy, during a time when low immigration forced employers to compete for workers with offers of higher wages. In October 2018, Breitbart reported Rep. Joe Kennedy’s description of the claim:

Few felt it as deeply as President John F. Kennedy. In his 1964 book A Nation of Immigrants, recently re-released, my great-uncle outlines the compelling case for immigration, in economic, moral, and global terms. “The abundant resources of this land provided the foundation for a great nation,” he writes. “But only people could make the opportunity a reality. Immigration provided the human resources.”

The Democrats’ view of the United States as a land for immigrants is very different from President Donald Trump’s description of the United States as the home of Americans.

“Joe Biden goes out and says the other day that America is nothing more than an idea,” Trump said at an October 25 rally in New Hampshire. ‘No. America is a great country. That’s what it is. It’s a great country. And you can’t have a great country unless you have borders,” he said, adding:

We stand on the shoulders of American heroes who crossed the oceans, settled the continent, tamed the wilderness, laid down the railroads, raised up the skyscrapers, won two world wars, defeated fascism and communism, and made America the single greatest nation in the history of the world. And the best is yet to come. … We are one movement, one people, one family, and one glorious nation under God.

Amid their “Nation of Immigrants” rhetoric, the Democratic Senators were cautious about their hope for a major amnesty bill — partly because they saw five Democratic Senators lose their seats in 2014 after they voted for the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration disaster.

“It’s going to be difficult,” said Schumer, who remains the majority leader because he lost five seats in 2014. “Immigration is always a contentious issue — and Trump has made it worse by just spreading lies about immigrants constantly … [but] we have a real opportunity,” he said, adding:

I have faith that we will get this done. It won’t be easy, but as long as God breathes air in my lungs. I’m going to fight to make sure this country remains a welcoming safe haven for those who seek the American dream. Just it is has been for my own.

Durbin said:

So let me come down to the $64 question, as they used to say, [about] whether we should do comprehensive immigration reform, or do piece by piece. The honest answer is, I don’t know. A lot of it depends on what’s going to happen in Georgia on January 5. Special election. If two Senate seats to Democrats win. It’s a 50/50 tie, and [Kamala] Harris breaks the tie. We have a nominal majority. But only nominal. She’s there to break ties to give us 51. Many of the toughest things in the Senate takes 60 votes. So we would be at standstill.

Coons was also cautious:

We had one brief window [in 2013] where it really looked as if we had the overwhelming majority needed here in the Senate, to pass out of the Senate comprehensive immigration reform. That window wasn’t followed up on by the House. I think we may have another such window coming here in the year ahead.

Many polls show that Americans want to like immigrants and strongly oppose government policies that would allow companies to import workers instead of hiring Americans. For example, a November poll by Rasmussen Reports showed that 66 percent of likely voters back the populist demand that “businesses [should] raise the pay and try harder to recruit non-working Americans” before being allowed to hire foreign workers. Only 19 percent said companies should be allowed to import replacement workers.




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