The President In 1885 Didn’t Stop Immigrant Friedrich Trump From Coming To America

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Elizabeth Christ and Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandparents, both immigrated to America from a part of Germany with a troubled history.

Donald Trump’s disparaging remarks about immigrants from Haiti, Africa and elsewhere should remind us of an earlier era when the countries of other immigrants were viewed unfavorably, immigrants like Donald Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump.

“Friedrich Trump was not leaving home so much as fleeing three centuries of barbaric European history,” writes Gwenda Blair, author of the well-researched book The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President. “He was born and raised in the village of Kallstadt, in the region of southwestern Germany called the Pfalz, or the Palatinate in English. Today, the Pfalz, a lush, pleasant, affluent place, shows little sign of its nightmarish past. But in Friedrich Trump’s time, memories were fresh, and young people with poor prospects tried to escape as soon as they could.”

The region was ravaged by wars and misrule that propelled Germans like Friedrich Trump to flee to America. “Unfortunately, its proximity to the Rhine meant that the rest of Europe also had easy access to Kallstadt – with dreadful results,” according to Blair. “Over the centuries the Pfalz was invaded, sometimes more than once, by Spain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and France.”

Donald Trump and fellow opponents of family immigration like to call it “extended-family chain migration.” But that is simply a political slogan designed to justify efforts to eliminate the ability of U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents, siblings or adult children for immigration. There are no “extended family” categories and no one in America considers their mother or 21-year-old daughter an “extended family member.” Those opposing family immigration, including the Trump administration itself, also openly oppose the entry of more high-skilled immigrants and temporary visa holders, despite the use of the term “merit-based.”

As discussed in an earlier article, family immigration has been an important part of American history. Simply put, historically, what critics call “chain migration” is nothing more than immigrants who succeed later helping out their family members.

In fact, Columbia University historian Mae M. Ngai notes, “Donald Trump is a product of ‘chain migration.’”

The 16-year-old Friedrich Trump, who spoke little English, would not have hopped on a ship and came to America without a family member already in place to help him. In 1885, when Friedrich immigrated, he joined his sister Katherine, who “had immigrated to New York a year earlier,” according to Gwenda Blair.

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