Trump is changing the U.S. immigration policies which the victorious half of the voters considered too dangerous for the American safety and its job market. Trump has stopped issuing new visas for the citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen at least for a month but maybe much longer than that. It will be investigated whether the system may be reformed to be appropriately improved.
Also, he wants to build a 10-meter precast [concrete] wall on the Mexican border within "months". A text by the CATO institute argues against the wall but helpfully summarizes the current fences, their loopholes, and the flaws of the wall, too. Can it be tunneled through? Quantum mechanics says Yes. ;-) The wall should cost around $20 billion and the newest plan is to pay for it from the newly imposed 20% tariffs on Mexican exports to the U.S. A meeting of Trump and the Mexican president has been cancelled.
So it seems Trump wasn't bluffing. He's continuing to pursue the policies promised in the campaign.
But let me return to the visas and the rights of the "regular foreigners" who are staying in the U.S. When it comes to some of the Trump critics, I am just amazed by their arrogance and sense of entitlement. I will discuss two examples, an illegal Hispanic immigrant at Harvard and Scott Aaronson who wrote a text
And to those who cheered Trump’s campaign in the comments of this blog: go ahead, let me hear you defend this.Too bad that Aaronson is incapable of understanding the policies and logic himself but I will be happy to do the teaching for him.
The Iranian student hasn't even been deported.
He may continue to do whatever he did (computational complexity) with his student visa (I hope that he has one although I am a bit confused how it's possible). On the other hand, the Jews in Germany were quickly stripped of their dignity, businesses, jewels and other assets, their right to normally communicate with other people, and finally 6 million Jews were moved to camps and murdered. In what sense it is "the same thing" as a student who isn't certain whether he will be able to work as a postdoc in the U.S.?
Also, Aaronson (just like the median leftist) completely misunderstands the reason for these policies – and for immigration policies in general – when he writes
Which is simply to say: I don’t think anyone on earth can accuse me of secret sympathies for the Iranian government. But when it comes to student visas, [...]I am sorry but the restrictions on the entry of citizens of other countries isn't done (just) because of foreign governments. It's the individuals themselves who can be considered a threat for the safety of people and their assets in the target nation, for its job market, and for the stability of its culture and demographics. For example, it's very obvious that the reason why the Iraqis aren't getting new visas now has nothing to do with sins by the government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government is doing lots of good things and Trump surely agrees. But Iraq is a country partly overtaken by Daesh – which was created, maintained, and/or supported by lots of "ordinary" people – so one must be careful about the people who arrive from that place. The details are different for the remaining countries but the fact that the governments aren't the only problem which justifies restrictions on travel and immigration is true universally.
The Iranian student has gotten a student visa – if I understand his situation well – at a time when the tension between Iran and the U.S. was high. I can't imagine how such a student could have thought that it was a fact that he may also continue in the U.S. as a postdoc – and perhaps as faculty as well? Such a certainty has never existed. Instead, there has always been a risk that even the existing visas could be altered and in the case of Iran, these accelerated risks were mainly because of the Iranian government, indeed. While Iran was building its nuclear program and its top leader was talking about the looming erasure of Israel off the face of the Earth, should Iranians in the West feel certain about their visa status?
Iran has been declared a member of the axis of evil on January 29th, 2002. On Sunday, it will be 15 years. And even in 2017, a complexity theorist is still incapable of figuring out that Iranian citizens could face some trouble while working in the U.S.? How stupid or arrogant do they have to be?
Maybe these people are confused by the presence of older people of Persian ancestry in the U.S. But let me pick two stellar physicists to explain the difference. Cumrun Vafa moved to the U.S. in 1977, two years before the Iranian Revolution. So he moved to the U.S. from a friendly country – so it was really analogous to Western Europeans' movement to the U.S. today. Moreover, it was increasingly clear that he could face problems if returned to Iran. Nima Arkani-Hamed's family was moving to the U.S. pretty much as obvious refugees escaping the new Islamic regime. But what about recent additions such as Aaronson's student? They're not coming from a friendly country and they're not coming as refugees threatened by the Iranian regime, either. So the situations aren't the same at all. Of course the reasons to allow the student to stay in the U.S. permanently – or for a long time – are much weaker than they were in the case of Vafa or Arkani-Hamed.
Most importantly, there just isn't any "universal human right" to work as a postdoc in the U.S. – for anyone, even members of nations that are much more friendly towards America than Iran. Whoever is acting as if he were assuming that such a right exists may get rightfully burned because his assumption is idiotic. The inability to get the postdoc visa may be a personal inconvenience for the Iranian student – and indirectly for his adviser Aaronson – but it's just complete rubbish when this personal inconvenience is presented as a flaw in the new system of policies. Aaronson is pretending that he is defending some deep values but in reality, he's only defending his personal interests.
And the problem isn't really serious, anyway. There are other places outside the U.S. where one may be hired as a postdoc in similar fields. I should mention that some Iranians I know are doing such things in Tehran which is, you know, the capital of Iran. They're not attending any protests of obscene anti-Trump feminists to complain that they're in the damn Iran and can't be in the U.S. – with such a protest, their problems as well as they as human beings would probably be "solved" rather quickly.
But I want to discuss an emotional paragraph by Aaronson:
To the Trump regime, I make one request: if you ever decide that it’s the policy of the US government to deport my PhD students, then deport me first. I’m practically begging you: come to my house, arrest me, revoke my citizenship, and tear up the awards I’ve accepted at the White House and the State Department. I’d consider that to be the greatest honor of my career.First, the big language is totally inappropriate. Second, it's repulsive that he is mixing these totally personal or political issues with "honors of his career". His agreement or disagreement with the government has nothing to do – or should have nothing to do – with his career! Third, Aaronson is only proposing this gesture because he is a spoiled brat who is used to the fact that someone will always save him and this episode will turn into his advantage. Even if Aaronson were deported for some very good reasons, dishonest leftist comrades in the Washington Post and other Soros' puppets would work hard to undo these decisions and turn Aaronson into a hero instead.
But in Germany of the 1930s, the Jews couldn't act as spoiled brats of Aaronson's type. They didn't have such powerful allies who could always protect them. Not even George Soros would help them. Instead, the first big contract of George Soros' career was his being an official hired by the Nazi regime who was confiscating other Jews' property. During the Holocaust, six million Jews were murdered. None of them had a weblog and most of their names were quickly forgotten. If Aaronson or his student were really in a situation that resembles the situation of the Jews in the 1930s, they wouldn't offer these arrogant requests to be deported and punished – because they would quickly be deported and punished and no one would give a damn about them.
So the situations are completely different and what Aaronson displays is nothing else than the arrogance of power associated with his place. While the situations are different, I do think that Aaronson's request to be deported somewhere should be considered.
My second shocking example is Laura Veira-Ramirez, an illegal immigrant who studies at Harvard and who wrote the diatribe titled
Wow, just wow. The arrogance is just breathtaking for me. She is an illegal immigrant – she uses the euphemism "undocumented" but be sure that it means exactly the same thing. I've served as a member of Harvard admission committees several times, 95% of the applicants for the College are rejected, and those who are accepted seem to be stellar in almost all respects. I sort of cannot imagine how someone who has the tiny flaw of being an illegal immigrant may be accepted but the degree of political correctness at Harvard is obviously gargantuan and its defenders don't hesitate to violate the law as long as their PC credentials get strengthened.
Even if she had a student visa, as every decent foreign student in the U.S. should, she would be expected to speak English at public spaces. And she would be expected not to intervene into the internal political affairs of the U.S. I have always respected these things and I am amazed how a person whose legal status is obviously dirty – very different from my perfectionist one – could feel "more entitled" to attend conventions of the major political parties and scream in Spanish in the train, and then shout that she has the right to do such things. You've never had any of these "rights", Ms Veira-Ramirez. You just had friends at powerful places who were helping you to commit your illegal activity and get away with it.
I find arrogant leftist bitches like Ms Veira-Ramirez so extremely and personally insulting especially because I still remember how utterly careful I was about the documents and the regulations coming with the visa status during my ten years in the U.S. I would never attend a Republican convention even if I would sympathize with it because it was a rule written for the visas – and pretty much common sense – that it's not right for a non-citizen to get involved in the internal U.S. politics. And while in the U.S. on a visa, would I ever try to disrupt a convention of a party, probably the Democratic Party, that I would disagree with? It's absolutely unthinkable. Over the years, I've attended a few political events I didn't enthusiastically agree with – like protests against the Iraq War (well, my views were mixed and are still mixed) but I always behaved so that I was almost indistinguishable from the generic participants.
Also, I would never speak Czech at places with Americans who weren't "checked" to be OK with it. Of course we did talk Czech – and Slovak – at various places. In our apartments where only Czechoslovak people were present. In the Harvard pub which is so noisy that no one else can hear us, anyway. And in front of a few people whom I knew to tolerate Czech. But a train to Ohio isn't one of those places. It is undoubtedly rude for a group of Spanish-speaking illegal immigrants to do noise in their mother tongue in a train to Ohio. The U.S. woman could have been tough and she could have looked unpleasant but she was obviously on the right side of this tense interaction.
And I don't want to enumerate all the work that I had to go through to get all the visas and stamps for them. The first B1 tourist visa, F1 student visa, J1 visa for the Junior Fellowship, and the H1B visa for the junior faculty job. I had to travel to Prague – 2 times 90 km per trip – to get each of them, wait for hours in the line in front of the U.S. embassy, and undergo a humiliating interview whose result was never quite certain. Also, I had to get additional annual stamps from the relevant university to confirm my good status, deal with additional problems and treaties while filing tax returns, and lots of other things. Even if I hadn't been disgusted by the feminists and others in the U.S. Academia, the hassle was intense. After June 2007, I would have needed a green card to extend my good status in the U.S. Lots of Harvard secretaries were offering me their help with that but in some sense, it was a greater paperwork than any of the previous visas and I could have very well preferred "not to do it" even if it were my "only" reason to resign at Harvard. These immigration restrictions simply aren't trivial – and shouldn't be trivial.
As an illegal immigrant, Ms Laura Veira-Ramirez hasn't done any of these things (paperwork) and she thinks that she's entitled to scream in Spanish while going to protest at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio? Please, give me a break. I find this arrogance breathtaking and it would probably be a complete formality for me to sign a decree to deport her.
These absolutely incompatible views on immigration may partly reflect the more universal, characteristically Czech attitudes. Bohemia – largely surrounded by the Sudeten mountains i.e. a border which you may see from the spaceships (don't believe the PC astronauts that they can't see any borders! The round Bohemian basin could have been created by an asteroid impact 2 billion years ago, someone has proposed) – has never been a target for exotic immigrants – and it hasn't been an important source of migrants to other countries, either. The only large group of immigrants we had in centuries were the Sudeten Germans whom the Czech kings were deliberately inviting to improve the economy. Only in recent decades, we've added the several groups of Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Russian, and post-Yugoslav immigrants and there is a certain number of assorted Westerners and others in Prague, like in every international city.
Also, the Czechs weren't routinely fleeing their country as economic migrants. It's normal to be satisfied in our small Czech stinky pond, as we often describe the weakly (geographically and culturally) isolated place. You find many fewer Czech immigrants in the U.S. and elsewhere than those from most other European nations (even Slovaks are arguably more numerous in the U.S. – and Poles are more numerous by a factor safely exceeding 4), even if you divide the people by the current populations of the homelands. I think that it would still be right to label most of the emigrants from Czechoslovakia etc. "economic migrants" (even some EU authorities admitted that over 90% of the recent migrants from the Muslim world are economic migrants and not "refugees") but most of this economic migration had at least some troubling political changes as a driver in the background. So most of 300,000 post-war emigrants from Czechoslovakia could argue that their emigration was largely caused either by the 1948 communist coup or by the 1968 occupation by the Warsaw Pact.
Two of my uncles emigrated. My mother's brother and his wife moved to Australia (with some steps in between) in 1969 and became a mathematics professor in Melbourne. The date makes it clear that the decision clearly had a lot to do with the 1968 occupation by the Warsaw Pact and it did. My father's brother and his family moved to Bavaria in the early 1980s. I wouldn't have doubts that they should be classified as economic migrants. They were running pubs in Nuremberg which wasn't bad.
But both of them and all the Czech emigrants I know of were almost always working hard to get assimilated, to live so that they're not causing problems in the country where they have moved. They moved because the Czech package of politics, culture, and lifestyle looked inferior relatively to that of their destination which is why they were willing to adopt the package of the target country instead. Doesn't it make sense? Emigration is a special, highly nontrivial decision and every person with common sense must understand that the co-existence with the new countrymates may create some problems and it's the old settlers – life-long citizens etc. – whose opinion should be more important. Otherwise the migration is a kind of a takeover or occupation. The migrants from the Middle East and Latin America usually don't have this Czech-like sensitivity – and both texts, that from Laura Veira-Ramirez, and the text by Aaronson, show that the migrants think that they're in charge of things while on visas (or even without any documents).
And that's why such migrants simply must be considered a problem, people working on a certain takeover of the U.S. or any other Western country where they arrive. So sorry but none of the "entitlements" that you seem to believe in exists.
Václav Klaus Jr, the oldest son of the Czech ex-president, has posted this cute flow chart settling the question whether "Trump is someone's president". Are you a U.S. citizen? Do you like Trump? Well, it doesn't matter whether you like Trump or not. Trump is your president. On the other hand, Ms Laura Veira-Ramirez may dislike Trump and angrily scream that Trump isn't her president. Is Trump her president? In this case, the answer is indeed No, Trump is not her president – because she is not a U.S. citizen. It's that simple. Trump isn't her president and there's nothing mysterious about it – and it's also why it doesn't matter what she thinks about the U.S. president and why Trump may deport her whenever he finds it appropriate. People trying to obfuscate these questions and defend other answers to the question "whether Trump is their president" are crooks.
On Saturday, the Czech President's Office ("The Prague Castle") has welcomed Trump's decision not to accept refugees, saying that the step shows that the U.S. behaves as our ally. 94% of the readers at Novinky.cz voted that Trump's decision was right.