The Anne Frank Center Called Trump's New Immigration Plan An "Ethnic Purity Test"

by Clarissa-Jan Lim
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Flanked by Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue, President Trump unveiled the RAISE Act on Wednesday, an immigration bill that aims to drastically limit legal immigration. Soon after the press conference, the Anne Frank Center slammed Trump's RAISE Act in a fierce statement likening it to an "ethnic purity test that harkens [sic] to the darkest chapters of world history."

The RAISE Act would bring about sweeping change to American immigration policy. It would slash in half the number of green cards — some one million — issued today, throw out the diversity lottery aimed at attracting immigrants underrepresented in the U.S., and cut down on the number of refugees the U.S. admits. But the most contentious part of the bill, at least in the immediate backlash to the announcement, is that it green card applicants who speak English would be favored over those who don't.

It was a detail in the legislation that many pointed out on Twitter, and it was one that the Anne Frank Center singled out, too. Its statement on Wednesday quoted executive director Steven Goldstein, who called the bill "evil." Goldstein said:

This heinous action would, in effect, establish an ethnic purity test that harkens [sic] to the darkest chapters of world history. The Statue of Liberty weeps as she watches President Trump all but flush America's moral leadership down the toilet.

The Anne Frank Center has been a vociferous opponent of many of Trump's actions in office. After he issued his travel ban executive order, the organization tweeted in January that banning refugees and immigrants will "never keep America great." In February, after Trump addressed a delayed response to rising anti-Semitic incidents, the center again issued a scorching statement criticizing him.

"Make no mistake," that February statement read. "The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration."

Trump's backing of the RAISE Act is in line with his anti-immigration campaign stance. As a candidate, however, his wrath was more focused on undocumented immigrants.

The RAISE Act is an updated version of an old bill (the skill-based system that considers English speaking fluency and financial ability is new). Cotton and Perdue co-sponsored this legislation in February, but it didn't even make it to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

This time around, it comes on the heels of an embarrassing failure to pass a health care repeal bill, and as Republican lawmakers are determined to move on to other issues like tax reform. It's unlikely that it will garner 51 votes, much less the 60 it needs to pass the Senate.