We’ve come a long way from Republicans’ 2012 “autopsy” report, which concluded that the party needed to do more to reach out to Hispanic voters and immigrants or risk becoming obsolete.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, when the Republican National Committee sent out these talking points:
The talking points argue that America’s immigration policies actually look incredibly progressive when compared to the immigration policies of an overwhelmingly white country with less than 3% of the United States’ population.
Some backstory: In 2015, Swiss voters elected members of the hardline anti-immigration Swiss People’s Party to parliament. After stoking fears about immigrants flooding into the country, the right-wing party led the way to the country adopting nationalistic immigration policies. In 2016, the country denied citizenship to two Muslim girls because they refused to take swimming lessons with boys because of their faith. Another immigrant family from Kosovo was denied Swiss citizenship for wearing sweatpants and failing to sufficiently greet passersby.
Under Switzerland’s vetting rules—which Swiss residents voted to loosen last year—town councils interview applicants to ensure they are “well integrated” into Swiss culture. As the RNC’s talking points note, those interviews can include being prompted to name a cheese or a local mountain.
It’s hard to tell whether the RNC’s email is implying that the U.S. should be trying to emulate Switzerland’s xenophobic immigration policies—like not granting automatic citizenship to children born in the country—or if the GOP is simply trying to make our country’s own (horrific) treatment of immigrants and other foreign-born people seem tame by comparison. (Splinter reached out to the RNC for comment and will update this post if we hear back.)
But the Swiss immigration system has quite a few fans among Trump’s online fan base, and the idea appears to be somewhat of a meme in corners of the right wing internet. A year ago, this meme posted to r/The_Donald subreddit was upvoted 1,000 times:
So it’s true enough that Switzerland has very, very strict immigration laws. But at a time when the United States is putting thousands of children in glorified cages with no clue where their parents are, this amounts to useless whataboutism.
It’s comforting (read: not comforting at all) to see the national Republican Party apparatus so easily falling into step with Trump’s Reddit fanbase. If anyone was still under the illusion that there is any daylight between the Republican Party writ large and virulent xenophobes like Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, let this dispel it once and for all.