Speaking at the White House on Thursday afternoon, President Donald Trump explained his administration’s proposals for how he believes rules should be changed regarding which immigrants should be allowed into the country in the future.
Among the merit-based changes the White House is proposing is a requirement that immigrants learn English when they become citizens. Details on when they would have to learn the language or how immigrants applying for citizenship would prove they can speak it fluently was not immediately made clear.
“To promote integration, assimilation, and national unity, future immigrants will be required to learn English, and to pass a civics exam prior to admission,” Trump said in his remarks.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 16, 2019
A naturalization test is already required by law for any immigrant seeking to become a citizen of the United States. But although English is the predominant language in the country, the U.S. doesn’t have an official language, and indeed many communities across America have neighborhoods where other languages are primarily spoken.
Users on the social media site Twitter logged on to criticize the president, with some lambasting his ability to speak English himself.
Trump: "Future immigrants will be required to learn English.”
Us: ”YOU haven't even learned English!”
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) May 16, 2019
One user also noted that the entire Trump presidency could have been avoided were such a test put on candidates for office in 2016.
If only trump had been required to learn English and pass a civics exam before being sworn in as president, we wouldn’t have this disgrace of an idiot leading our country into the ground right now.
— Pat Emerson (@emersoninaglass) May 16, 2019
Other users on Twitter had direct criticisms about the policy itself, demonstrating that it had racist connotations.
Trump is unveiling his Make America White Again immigration plan in which he says new citizens in the future will have to take a civics test (already exists) & learn English (we don't have an official language & the older you get, the harder it is to learn another language).
— HawaiiDelilah™ Unredacted Version (@HawaiiDelilah) May 16, 2019
Reeking of white privilege as Trump wants immigrants only who “merit” it. No older folk, bring ur “advanced” education, only high wages and self sufficiency, pass civics test, learn English, no more “bring me your tired, your poor”. #disgusting #conman pic.twitter.com/H6doeE86Hx
— juneynyc (@juney9800) May 16, 2019
Some, like Vox journalist Aaron Rupar, showcased that the policy would unfairly affect poor individuals, who may be deserving of becoming citizens in the U.S. but who are unable to learn a new language given their economic status.
The White House's new immigration plan is all about keeping the poors out.
"Future immigrants will be required to learn English and to pass a civics exam prior to admission," Trump says. pic.twitter.com/eP9GFo6gVu
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 16, 2019
Another user noticed that the president’s words were “vague,” and that the terms set forth for becoming a naturalized citizen weren’t easily understood.
Notice that these categories are vague. What does financially self sufficient mean? What does learn English mean? How much is enough and who decides?
Most importantly it excludes the vulnerable: children, asylum seekers, the poor, oppressed, women w/o $ independence. https://t.co/UTulwF1Zeu
— Tiffany (@tiffindor_) May 16, 2019
The new rules would have to be passed by Congress, according to the president’s statements. He had a plan, he said, for addressing blockage of his proposed new rules on immigration.
Trump: "If for some reason… we can't get the Democrats to approve this merit-based, high security plan, then we will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and of course, hold the presidency." https://t.co/s51AfWHXgN pic.twitter.com/L6ljkpTtjl
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 16, 2019
If Democrats in Congress blocked the passage of the proposal, “then we will get it approved immediately after the  election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and of course, hold the presidency,” Trump explained.