We have Harper’s Magazine to thank for unearthing this gem, in which Friedrich Trump — Donald Trump’s grandfather — pleads with the prince regent of Bavaria that he not be deported from his home country. It’s an irony that is of course not lost on us or the eight million people Trump seeks to deport from American shores.
Deportation has become a major component of Trump’s first month in office — a “military operation” in the president’s own words. In addition to his poorly thought-out and struck-down Muslim ban, Trump seeks to broadly expand the United States’ deportation efforts. Documents released by the Department of Homeland Security weeks ago indicate Trump seeks to publicize crimes committed by undocumented immigrants, strip those individuals of any privacy protections, expand the scope of local police to enforce deportations, build new deportation facilities and speed up deportations.
Trump has also expanded the scope of illegal activity that warrants deportation. Whereas President Obama placed deportation priority on the most dangerous criminals — gang members, felons and “those who posed security threats,” as The New York Times points out — Trump has given immigration agents the ability to deport anyone charged with even minor crimes, as well as those who have been ordered to be deported but do not have criminal records.
Under Trump, more individuals than ever before will be deported without ever stepping foot before a judge.
Also, since Trump’s campaign for president, he has insisted that immigrants “routinely victimize Americans,” despite well-known research indicating quite the opposite: crime levels among immigrants are lower than those among those born here in America.
The below letter by Friedrich Trump to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria was written in 1905 (and translated from its original German). Friedrich was Bavarian-born but had emigrated to the United States as a 16-year-old, making a life in New York. After starting a family — marrying and having a child — Friedrich moved his family back to Kallstadt, Bavaria, citing that his wife couldn’t handle the climate of New York.
But after re-settling in his native land, “as if by a lightning strike by fair skies” Trump got word that he’d been ordered to leave Bavaria. The letter doesn’t mention it, but he’d been ordered to be deported for failing to complete mandatory military service (sound familiar?) and for not registering his initial emigration to the United States.
In the letter, Trump pleads with the prince in the most flowery of language — “[he] who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved” — but ultimately his pleading was for naught. The prince rejected Friedrich Trump’s request to become a repatriated Bavarian citizen, and Trump and his family were deported. The family thereafter settled in New York, where the Trumps are now the problem of us all.
Read the letter from Donald Trump’s grandfather to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria in its entirety below:
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
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.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
Irony is alive and well on American shores.