On Labor Day, New Reason Not to Fall for Trump’s Immigrant Threat Narrative

By Distinguished Professor Ruth Milkman, for Gotham Gazette

Among the many conversations I’ve had about the upcoming election, one stands out in my mind.  It was with an old friend who is riding out the pandemic in upstate New York. She told me about an acquaintance of hers there, a white male construction worker, who is a steadfast Trump supporter. She could not understand why, given that he is struggling economically, he finds the ‘MAGA’ narrative so appealing. “What he is really angry about is all those Mexicans and Guatemalans around here who are taking jobs away from people like him,” she reported.

There’s no danger that New York State will land in the Trump column in November, and lately immigration has faded from the headlines, displaced by the Black Lives Matter protests and Trump’s demonizing of “rioters” and “looters” in the streets. This time around “law and order” is the focus of Trump’s presidential campaign. But we should not lose sight of the immigrant scapegoating that was his North Star in 2016. It remains a potent force for a sizable chunk of Trump’s base, especially white working-class Americans like that construction worker.

Read the full piece HERE.

Photo Credit: Construction workers, New York (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)