Jennifer Mendelsohn is a journalist and amateur genealogist whose new project, #ResistanceGenealogy, looks at the family trees of anti-immigration right-wingers. And — who would have guessed? — it turns out that if it weren’t for immigrants, these über-conservatives wouldn’t even be here. (And we’re not talking about coming over on the Mayflower.)
1. Tomi Lahren
Though Tomi Lahren was the fourth person Mendelsohn looked up as part of her project, she was one of the most impressive. In a piece for Wonkette, Mendelsohn outlines her discovery that, despite Lahren’s calls for immigrants to “respect our laws,” her own great-grandfather didn’t. Constantin Dietrich was put on trial in 1917 in Bismarck, South Dakota. Dietrich was indicted for forging a naturalization document. He altered his original paperwork to make it look like he declared his intention of citizenship in 1911 instead of 1909, because he’d waited too long to finish getting his citizenship.
Though he was indicted, the grand jury acquitted him. Dietrich became an American citizen in 1926. This is admittedly a minor offense; certainly nothing Dietrich should have been deported over. But considering Lahren’s own hardline stance on immigration, it’s just a tad hypocritical.
2. Tucker Carlson
The worst thing to happen to the bowtie since Matthew Lesko is Tucker Carlson — the conservative commentator who, according to Jon Stewart, is a “dick” who’s “hurting America” and has frequently spoken out against immigration. Here’s one of his “greatest hits”:
— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) June 30, 2017
But, as it turns out, one of Carlson’s ancestors wrote a book. Autobiographical Letters of Cesar Lombardi to His Grandchildren talks about his emigration to America from Switzerland. And why did Lombardi emigrate? At the time, Switzerland was a poor country who had just gone through the Sonderbund War, a Swiss civil war. Or, in words Carlson might use — it was a “failing country.” Of course, now Switzerland is the ninth richest country, making the concept of “failing countries” questionable anyway.
3. Rep. Steve King
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
By now, you probably know how this is going to go. Sure enough, Mendelsohn discovered that King’s grandmother arrived in America as a 4-year-old, along with her 2-year-old brother and baby sister. (Sadly, Anna Harm, the baby sister, died two months after they came to America.)
4. Stephen Miller
Miller is Trump’s senior policy advisor. (You might know him as the guy John Oliver said looks like a Minion.) Miller’s also the chief architect of the travel ban. He believes immigrants must be able to speak English.
Mendelsohn discovered Miller’s great-grandmother couldn’t speak English when she came to America.
— Jennifer Mendelsohn (@CleverTitleTK) August 2, 2017
Of course, Miller’s great-grandmother isn’t alone. Trump’s grandfather didn’t speak English when he came here either. Neither did Kellyanne Conway’s great grandfather or Steve Bannon’s great-great grandfather.
5. Donald Trump
If there’s one thing Donald Trump is known for it’s — for the purposes of this article — his desire to deport millions of immigrants. While this one isn’t one of Mendelsohn’s discoveries, it’s too good not to include it. Friedrich Trump, Donald’s grandfather and the guy mentioned above who didn’t speak English, wrote a letter to Luitpold, Bavaria’s prince regent begging not to be deported. The elder Trump hadn’t completed his mandatory military service nor his previous emigration to the United States. (Friedrich came to New York as a 16-year-old but moved back to Bavaria after starting a family.) He wrote:
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
Unfortunately for America, the prince regent rejected his request. Friedrich was deported back to the States — and 110 years later, we’re stuck with Donald.