To The Editor:
The wave of anti-immigration sentiment that boosted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump has historical parallels.
In 1955, historian John Higham wrote a book titled “Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925.”
The restrictionist movements, ideas and legislative efforts chronicled in Higham’s history bear a distinct resemblance to those that have emerged in the present day.
But there are good reasons to think that this time is different because economic and cultural changes make it unlikely the United States will go down the same isolationist path that it trod in the early 20th Century.
Things were different 100 years ago when public pressure for immigration restriction was intense. Now, it’s supported only by a shrinking minority of Americans.
Trump’s election hasn’t sparked a general hardening of attitudes against immigrants, as occurred in the 1910s and 1920s. In fact, Americans of all political persuasions say more positive things about immigrants in 2017 than they did in previous years.
So there’s a good chance that history won’t repeat itself. Even if Trump does enact some measures to keep out immigrants and to send them out of the country, it is likely that there will be pressure from both the public and from business groups for Trump’s successor to reverse those measures.