The Anti-Immigration President

Like most Americans, Donald Trump comes from immigrant stock, and as in most families, their story is a complicated one, with many chapters. But during Trump’s anti-immigrant tirades, he failed to mention even such basics as the fact that his mother, Mary Anne McLeod Trump, was born in Scotland, that he is named after a Scotsman (a maternal uncle), and that he has boasted of his tie to this foreign country repeatedly when publicizing his golf courses there.

More important, his black-and-white denunciations give no hint that his financial empire traces its origins back to the shrewdness with which his grandfather, Friedrich Trump, finagled his way around the rough-and-tumble New World after emigrating from the small German village of Kallstadt. The year was 1885, and Friedrich, who was only 16 when he landed in New York City, belonged to a wave of German immigrants that, again according to the Pew Research Center, made that country the largest source of newcomers to the U.S. for more than four decades.

Being born in Germany wasn’t a problem when Friedrich arrived in the United States. He went on to become an American citizen and to amass a nest egg — the first Trump family fortune — by “mining the miners” in Seattle and the Yukon during the gold-rush era. Rather than dig for ore himself, he opened restaurants, often in the red-light district, and supplied booze and easy access to women. Although such behavior does not rise to the level of the criminal activity grandson Donald claims is rampant among immigrants from Mexico, the local North West Mounted Police superintendent found it unacceptable — and in 1901, when he announced a clean-up, Friedrich pulled up stakes and headed back to New York.

That’s when he hit his first major bump in the road, in the form of a dilemma that often arises in immigrant communities: Friedrich had adjusted to life in his new home, but his wife Elizabeth, also from Kallstadt, had not. Although Germans were the biggest ethnic group in the U.S. and New York City had the third-largest number of German speakers in the world, behind only Berlin and Vienna, Elizabeth was desperately homesick. Friedrich did his best to make her feel at home in the U.S., but ultimately, in 1904, he, Elizabeth, and their infant daughter headed back to Germany — what Mitt Romney would have called “voluntary self-deportation.”

When Friedrich applied to regain German citizenship, he hit a second big bump: He had left his native country when too young to do military service, which was compulsory in Germany, and he was returning after he was over the age limit. He insisted that the only reason he had immigrated was to provide for his widowed mother, but the authorities dismissed him as a draft dodger. Many observers would consider such an infraction less serious than the rapes and drug-dealing Donald accuses Mexican immigrants of committing, but German officials kicked Friedrich out — ironically, the same fate Donald would like to mete out to undocumented immigrants and their families today.

In 1905, Friedrich and his family sailed back to the U.S. Despite Friedrich’s best efforts, the Trump family would be Americans after all.

If Friedrich applied for a Green Card today, he would be DENIED

Our Deporter-In-Chief has conveniently lost track of his roots.  We are a nation of immigrants.


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