Bioethics Blogs

The Danger of Using ‘Model Minority’ Narratives in the Aftermath of Trump’s Immigration Orders

Image via Masha George

By Emily Jenab, MA

Hundreds of demonstrations and protests have taken place across the country in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order which targeted immigrants in the reevaluation of visa and refugee programs, otherwise known as the “Muslim Ban.” While the intention of the protests was to reflect America’s inclusivity, the tactics and media coverage of the protests revealed exclusionary ideas. The fixation on cases of immigrants with superseding academic credentials and contributions to America has a purpose, perhaps, but as we protest Trump’s baseless policies, it’s worth considering the value of all immigrants rather than only those who are believed to have greater status or worth based on these qualifications.

The model minority typically describes Asian Americans or Asian immigrants, who are highly educated and successful; those who, in essence, embody the American dream. Our cultural climate allows for the simultaneous disrespect and idolization of these minorities. Members of minorities who fit our standards of meritocracy and success are deemed the “good immigrants” while the others are ignored. Just as meritocracy and wealth define opportunity and status, our conception of immigrants, too, is tinted by our fixation on measurable successes. In the new tumult and chaos of our national politics, the model minority has been transposed to other migrants, particularly those who are Muslim or from majority Muslim countries, in order to combat the poisonous view of immigrants that has been presented.

When Trump signed his first “Muslim Ban” he targeted the immigrants (many of them legal and green card holders) of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.