In 1924, Congress passed a package of immigration laws — including the National Origins Act and the Asian Exclusion Act — establishing a quota system giving preferential treatment to European immigrants. Under these laws, the number of immigrants who could be admitted from a given country was capped at a percentage of the number of people from that nation who were living in the United States in 1890. Because Americans were overwhelmingly of European descent in 1890, the practical effect of these laws was an enormous thumb on the scale encouraging white immigration.
And here’s Michele Bachmann, exploiting Rick Perry’s Achilles’ heel of non-crazy:
The immigration system in the United States worked very, very well up until the mid-1960s when liberal members of Congress changed the immigration laws. What works is to have people come into the United States with a little bit of money in their pocket, legally, with sponsors so that if anything happens to them they don’t fall back on the taxpayers to take care of them.
This reminds me of nothing so much as Trent Lott’s comments about how America would have been better off if we had elected staunch segregationist Strom Thurmond president in 1948. Lott expressed nostalgia for an openly racist candidate, and Bachmann expresses nostalgia for an openly racist policy.
Maybe they’re just ignorant dumbasses, or maybe they’re dog-whistling to the racist/nativist elements of the Republican base. It’s a little hard for me to believe that Lott and his staff didn’t know anything about Thurmond’s history, or that whoever researched pre-1965 immigration policy for Bachmann didn’t notice or mention that little detail about racial quotas.
Trent Lott paid a price for his remarks, but I’m guessing the similarity will end there.