Immigration in the US comes full circle for the Bannon family

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The Bannon Family has come full circle since my great grandfather, James, came to the United States from Ireland late in the 19th Century.  

Donald Trump might have callously described it as a “shithole” country back then. The Emerald Isle was in throes of rebellion, fighting for freedom against oppressive English rule and suffering from starvation wrought by British economic indifference. Members of my family, like millions of other immigrants, found safe harbor here in the land of freedom and opportunity. 

My grandfather, Jim Bannon, the first member of my family to be born here, faced discrimination in the new land. He told me sad stories about trying to find a job as a young man early in the 20th century. He confronted hostility and “No Irish Need Apply” signs — the type of hatred that some newcomers still sadly endure today.

My daughter has welcomed a new generation of refugees to America. She teaches high school English to recent immigrants, including refugee children from violence-torn Haiti. She finds their enthusiasm for education and their thirst for knowledge typical of the new arrivals. 

Channeling the energy and enthusiasm of this new generation of Americans is essential to the health, wealth and well-being of the U.S. The birth rate for white Americans is declining. These eager immigrant students will pay their dues, get good jobs, enrich the labor force and pay Social Security taxes for the massive retiring generation of Baby Boomers. Some of them will serve in our armed forces to protect their new nation from international threats.  

We learned recently from a tragedy that immigrants do the dirty jobs that many natives don’t want to do. The six workers who died while filling potholes in the middle of the night on the Key Bridge over Baltimore Harbor were all immigrants from Latin America. 

Donald Trump wants to bring the melting pot that has made this nation great to a quick boil. 

In a new interview in Time, the former president said he wants to use the National Guard to deport undocumented immigrants. He stated that he was even open to using the military for deportations. That would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the armed forces against civilians. 

Trump advisers told Time that there would be mass deportations of immigrants if he wins a second term. This raises the specter of soldiers sweeping the streets, Gestapo style, of Latino residents whether they are citizens or not. This is what fascism would look like on our shores if the “dictator on Day One” gets his way. 

MAGA Nation loves his bluster. But his followers are hypocrites. The real question is how his supporters, the sons and daughters of immigrants, can be so cruel to recent arrivals. Is it because the new wave of immigration is Black and brown instead of white? Enquiring minds want to know.  

The U.S. Census Bureau predicted that the majority of Americans will be non-white within the next 20 years. This prospect scares the hell out of the older white voters who support Trump. Demography is destiny and we should be working to accommodate the diversity of the new multi-racial society. Republicans just want to stop changes that are inevitable. 

Trump and his supporters have only themselves to blame for the new influx of immigrants. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) tried to fashion a bipartisan compromise that toughened border security. President Biden supported the legislation that made many Hispanic and progressive Democratic members of Congress unhappy. But Trump’s opposition cowed the Republican-controlled House into submission and the bill failed. All Lankford got for his trouble was a censure from the Oklahoma Republican Party. 

Trump and many Republicans would rather talk about immigration to inflame political passions than actually do anything constructive to fix the system. The Know Nothing Party that terrorized immigrants before the Civil War was a minor part of the nascent Republican Party. Now the Know Nothings completely own the GOP lock, stock and barrel. 

“BanFam” survived the discrimination that it encountered when it arrived in the United States to become a productive part of society. The new immigrants will also persevere to secure the future of this great nation despite Trump bigotry and MAGA hostility. 

Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster, CEO of Bannon Communications Research and the host of the popular progressive podcast on power, politics and policy, Deadline D.C. with Brad Bannon.

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