In February 2019, after a protracted legislative battle over funding his long-promised wall, President Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border of the United States. The legality of this proclamation will be hashed out in the courts, but even the Trump Administration’s opponents agree that the immigration system is in sore need of reform.
At the heart of our immigration debate is a distinction between “refugees” fleeing persecution, and “migrants” seeking new opportunities in the United States. Nicholas Gallagher proposes in Mosaic’s March 2019 essay that Jewish history can help explain why these categories no longer serve our policy debate. Viewing America’s current predicament through the lens of the Jewish immigrant experience, Gallagher’s essay illuminates the messy realities of human migration and helps clarify the difficult questions before America’s leaders.
In this podcast, Gallagher sits down with Tikvah’s Jonathan Silver for a conversation about his piece. They explore the varied causes of historical Jewish migration, the difficulty inherent in applying legal categories to complex human realities, and how a fuller understanding of the Jewish immigrant experience can point the way toward clarity in confronting America’s immigration mess.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble as well as “Great Feeling” by Alex Kizenkov.