`We are only following the law’

`We are only following the law’ doesn’t explain immigration policy during Nazi era or now

Holocaust historians’ first impulse is to reject comparisons between those dark decades and our present. We don’t want to be perceived as abusing history for political purposes or engaging in overly emotional analyses.

But then comes a moment when it’s not possible to avoid parallels.

For me, that moment came two weeks ago.

I study the American response to the Holocaust. I was researching the U.S. officials’ false claim that the nation’s inflexible immigration laws gave them no choice but to deny visas to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in the 1930s and early 1940s – and historians’ repetition of this false claim. From every media outlet came Trump administration officials spewing similar hollow arguments.

The law made me do it

During the Nazi era, the claim was based on the 1924 immigration law that set annual worldwide quotas, as well as country-by-country limits, on the number of immigrants to be admitted to the United States.

The problem with the claim and the idea that U.S. officials had no choice but to follow the law and limit immigration is that the quotas were never even close to being filled from 1933 to 1945, the 12 years of the Nazi regime.

About 200,000 refugees from Nazi Europe were admitted during that period to the U.S., while at least another 200,000 could have been under existing quotas. The quota for Germans of about 26,000 was filled in just one year, in 1939. In every other year, the quota ranged from 7 percent to 70 percent filled.

The law didn’t prevent U.S. officials from admitting more refugees. Officials chose to interpret and implement the nation’s immigration laws so as to exclude as many refugees from Nazi Europe as possible.

Yet at the time, and in many historical accounts, officials consistently blamed the law. That includes Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, who explained why his administration could not help European Jews in 1943.

“American immigration policy was expressed [solely] in the laws enacted by Congress, which the executive branch had no power to alter,” said Long.

I want to know why so many historians cling to “the law-made-me-do-it” narrative, assuming that that narrative was all history.

It wasn’t.

History repeats

As criticism of the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border ramped up in mid-June, U.S. officials trotted out their version of Long’s argument – though in less elevated language.

Asked why the administration adopted the “zero tolerance” policy, which led to criminal prosecutions of all those crossing the border seemingly illegally, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a Thursday press conference, “because it’s the law, that’s what the law states.”

Front page of The New York Times, July 19, 1941. US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Pressed again, Sanders said, “Again, the laws are the one, the laws that have been on the books for over a decade and the president is enforcing them.”

Sanders wasn’t the first Trump administration official to blame “the law” for immigration policy.

“We don’t deport anyone,” John Kelly declared, when he was still Homeland Security secretary. “American law deports people.”

Nor has Sanders been the last.

Kelly’s successor, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the president have all said at various times – and then taken it back – that they had no choice.

Jobs and security

The Trump administration has justified its anti-immigrant policy as a way to help unemployed Americans. So did the Hoover administration and then the Roosevelt administration.

Faced with the Great Depression, Hoover decided in 1930 to limit the number of immigrants allowed into the country, because – supposedly – they would take Americans’ jobs.

Hoover did it by changing the interpretation of a decades-old provisionthat enabled officials to deny visas to those who were “likely to become a public charge.” Under the new interpretation, almost every applicant was found likely to become a public charge with no guidance or consistency in what that meant.

Immigration dropped 90 percent in the first five months.

From 1933 to 1945, the Roosevelt administration continued to use this interpretation of the likely-to-become-a-public-charge clause and other provisions to keep immigration under what the law allowed, even after the economy picked up.

The Trump administration has claimed immigrants are more likely to commit crimes and to be national security risks, using unrepresentative anecdotes and amorphous fears to justify its policy.

So did the Roosevelt administration. One State Department lawyer maintained that officials should deny visas to those who had criminal tendencies, even if they have no criminal record.

Government officials during the Roosevelt administration also assumed a large proportion of immigrants, particularly Jewish ones, were communists determined to subvert democracy. They denied visas on that basis.

Officials also assumed German Jewish refugees would be spies for the Third Reich. That was based upon the flimsiest of evidence: a Cuban ambassador’s claim some Jewish refugees celebrated the fall of Paris to the Nazis and a former U.S. ambassador to France’s allegation that German Jewish refugees made up half the 200 spies the French Army arrested.

“I believe you should instruct our counter-espionage services of all sorts to keep an especially vigilant eye on the Jewish refugees from Germany,” William Bullitt, the ex-ambassador, wrote Roosevelt. “Sad, isn’t it?’”

Breckenridge Long, who worked to stop refugees from the Nazis from coming to the U.S.National Archives

Jewish refugees didn’t turn out to be spies. Of the 23,000 “enemy aliens” who arrived in 1940, for example, fewer than one-half of 1 percent were taken into custody for questioning. Only a fraction of those were indicted – for violating immigration regulations, not for espionage.

Denials of visas based on national security concerns and other reasons, however, meant that just 21,000 refugees entered the United States between Pearl Harbor and the war’s end, with quotas from Axis-controlled countries only 10 percent filled. Historian David Wyman estimates that the U.S. could have saved nearly 200,000 victims of the Nazis by allowing them to enter the country.

Who gets to be American

Based on my research, I have concluded that U.S. government officials’ fears about refugees from Nazism being public charges, criminals or security risks were primarily pretexts for their real concern. That concern was that allowing in too many refugees would fundamentally alter the nature of American society.

Many decision-makers, particularly in the State Department, hailed from the WASP elite and perceived ambitious Jews as threatening their exclusive domains. The fewer Jews in the United States, the greater the chance of preserving the country as it had been and as they wanted it to continue to be. These officials justified any position and tolerated any cruelty, including refusing to change immigration policies once it was known the Germans were exterminating all of Europe’s Jews.

Roosevelt administration officials turned out to be both right and wrong in their fears.

They were right that the European refugees who came before, during and after the war, though small in number, reshaped the world of higher education, the arts and the sciences and contributed to the rise of the postwar meritocracy. That postwar meritocracy broke down the class-based system that kept Jews and Italians and eventually blacks and Latinos out of elite institutions.

But they were wrong that these changes undermined American democracy or changed the country’s spirit.

The nation was better off letting in 200,000 refugees between 1933 and 1945. It would have been even better off filling the quotas and allowing in the additional 200,000 refugees. And it would have been better off still had the country admitted anyone in need and tried to save all those who were imperiled as the Holocaust unfolded.

Some might object, probably under their breath, that these refugees were different. They were “good” refugees.

But that is not how they were perceived at the time. And that is exactly the point and precisely the parallel.

Bullying: Often A Tolerated Form of Violence by Employers

Violence in the workplace starts far before clench hands fly or deadly weapons douse lives. Where disdain and animosity routinely uproot cooperation and communication, violence has happened.

It is time to treat workplace bullying equipollent to sexual harassment or racial discrimination, to identify the perpetrators, establish rules of conduct and penalties, and even pass laws proscribing and penalizing bullying.

Bullying in the workplace is very far reaching today, however before we can come to comprehend it, we should comprehend that bullying is not quite the same as innocuous incivility, impertinence, rudeness, prodding and other well-kenned forms of interpersonal torment. Bullying is a type of violence, however, it rarely includes fighting, battery or homicide. It is often sub-lethal, non-physical violence. And as research data show, bullying crosses boundaries of gender, race and organizational rank.

Attributes of Bullying

In what manner can an issue so common not trigger societal shock? Silence by targeted employees is understandable in light of the fact that disgrace comes from being controlled and humiliated.

Co-wokers’ silence bodes well in a dread tormented condition when individuals are uncertain on the off chance that they may next be targeted.

Notwithstanding how bullying is displayed – either verbal assaults or key moves to render the target ineffective and unsuccessful – it is the assailant’s want to control the objective that spurs the activity.

Bullying incorporates abuse that incorporates same-sex and same-race badgering. Research has found that in just 25% of bullying cases does the objective have secured amass status and in this way qualify the offenses as sexual harassment or racial discrimination. A college overview led by University of Illinois analysts found a comparable strength of bullying over types of illegal harassment. The fact that many types of bullying are not illegal makes it barely noticeable despite the fact that it is three times more common than its better-perceived, unlawful forms.

Men and women can be bullies. Women make 58% of the culprit pool, while men speak to 42%. Research likewise demonstrates that when the targeted individual is a woman, she is harassed by a woman in 63% of cases; when the objective is male, he is bullied by a man in 62% of episodes. Most bullying is same-sex provocation which makes up the dominant part of bullied individuals (80%).

Bullying is almost imperceptible. It is non-physical, and almost dependably sub-deadly working environment viciousness. Workplace homicide gets featured on the news as striking uncommon occasions even in the violent United States. Corporate chiefs focus intensely on aversion and reaction forms, topped with zero tolerance rules.

Strikingly, bullying is psychological violence, for the most part incognito and once in a while clear. It is mental savagery, both in its inclination and effect. Despite how bullying is exhibited – either verbal attacks or overt moves to render the objective ineffective and unsuccessful – it is the attacker’s intention to control the objective that spurs the activity. The significant hazard is mental harm, however, counseling is not offered by employers to complainants who report bullying.

The trademark normal to all bullies is that they are controlling contenders who misuse their agreeable targets. Most domineering jerks would stop if the tenets changed and tormenting was rebuffed.

Bullying nearly resembles the phenomenon of abusive behavior at home. Both were covered in silence before being conveyed to open consideration. Accomplice viciousness casualties at first were reprimanded for their destiny. In the long run, the conduct was workplace harassing merits a similar advancement from acknowledgment to disallowance. The glaring distinction amongst local and work environment mental viciousness is that the last finds the abuser on the employer’s payroll.

Why Employers Should Address Workplace Bullying?

Bullying is 3 times more pervasive than sexual harassment. Illegal discrimination and harassment require noteworthy speculations of time and cash to recognize, adjust and avert. Employers definitely recognize what to do about harassment. Bullying is costly: employment practices liability can be significant. A bullied employee, frequently the most capable employees, are driven from the workplace. Turnover is costly. 

What Employers Should Do?

Employers should create values-driven policy. An ideal anti-bullying policy should include a declaration of unacceptability; the organization must state its displeasure with the misconduct; hostile workplace protections for everyone; extend rights to everyone regardless of protected group status; extend, combine or replace existing anti-violence & anti-harassment policies; inescapable definition, reserve prohibitions only for severe incidents, to clarify the threshold for taking action; non-punitive separation for safety; documentation of adverse impact to discourage frivolous complaints or abuse of the policy; incorporate perpetrator pattern & practice over time; credible enforcement processes; credible third-party investigation & adjudication process; foster employee trust, to remove influence of personal relationships; progressive disciplinary action not zero tolerance, to allow for change in conduct; retaliation prohibition to count offenses of retaliation separately, to stop the cycle of violence.

EEOC Issues Enforcement Guidance on National Origin Discrimination

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued its updated enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination to replace its 2002 compliance manual section on that subject, the federal agency announced today.

The Commission has also issued two short user-friendly resource documents to accompany the guidance: a question-and-answer publication on the guidance document and a small business fact sheet that highlights the major points in the guidance in plain language.

“EEOC is dedicated to advancing opportunity for all workers and ensuring freedom from discrimination based on ethnicity or country of origin,” said EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang. “This guidance addresses important legal developments over the past 14 years on issues ranging from human trafficking to workplace harassment. The examples and promising practices included in the guidance will promote compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws and help employers and employees better understand their legal rights and responsibilities.”

On June 2, EEOC published a proposed guidance for public input on www.regulations.gov. The guidance issued today reflects the Commission’s consideration of feedback received on the proposal from approximately 20 organizations and individuals.

EEOC’s enforcement guidance documents are approved by the Commission, set forth the agency’s interpretation of the law, and explain how federal anti-discrimination laws and regulations apply to specific workplace situations. The enforcement guidance on national origin discrimination discusses Title VII’s prohibition on national origin discrimination as applied to a wide variety of employment situations and highlights promising practices for employers to prevent discrimination. The guidance also addresses developments in the courts since 2002, as well as topics such as job segregation, human trafficking and intersectional discrimination.

In fiscal year 2015, approximately 11 percent of the 89,385 private sector charges filed with EEOC alleged national origin discrimination.  These charges alleged a wide variety of Title VII violations, including unlawful failure to hire, termination, language-related issues, and harassment.

EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.