A genealogist dug up facts on these anti-immigrant influencers. The results are telling.

The United States is — and has always been — a nation of immigrants. You wouldn't know it from some of the current rhetoric.

Donald Trump rode into presidential office on a promise to build a wall along the U.S. southern border and kick undocumented immigrants out of the country. Since becoming president, Trump has even taken aim at legal immigration, supporting plans to reduce the number of application approvals, ending the diversity lottery, and setting various "merit" benchmarks.

It's not just a Trump thing. This photo of an anti-immigration rally in California comes from 2006. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.


One genealogist decided to put things in perspective.

Jennifer Mendelsohn is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and more. About five years ago, Mendelsohn took an interest in genealogy, using her skills as a reporter to hone a new craft: helping people track down long-lost relatives.

Since March 2017, Mendelsohn has been working on a new project she calls #ResistanceGenealogy, where she compares the statements and positions of prominent commentators and politicians with their own family tree to see how their ancestors would have fared under similar laws. Spoiler alert: not very well in most cases. Let's take a look at some of what she's found.

Hungarian immigrants arriving in America. Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images.

1. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who said "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."

In a tweet showing support for anti-immigration Netherlands politician Geert Wilders, King wrote that "culture and demographics are about destiny," adding that "we can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." Yikes!

Asked to clarify what he meant on CNN's "New Day," King doubled down. "I've said the same thing as far as 10 years ago to the German people and to any population of people that is a declining population that isn't willing to have enough babies to reproduce themselves. I’ve said to them, 'You cannot rebuild your civilization with somebody else's babies. You've got to keep your birth rate up and that you need to teach your children your values.'"

Mendelsohn was able to pull up records appearing to be from King's grandmother, Freda, marking her arrival in the U.S. in 1894. According to King's suggestion, the country would have been better off if she'd been kept out to allow for more U.S.-born children.

2. White House adviser Stephen Miller helped craft a policy using "English proficiency" in ranking immigration candidates.

Miller helped shape the RAISE Act, which would eliminate the "diversity lottery," implement a "merit-based" system, and prioritize applicants who speak English. In a January 2018 interview with Fox News, Miller said that his goal was an immigration system that "produces more assimilation."

By those standards, according to Mendelsohn's research, Miller's great-grandmother, who didn't speak English, probably wouldn't have been welcomed here (and neither would he).

3. Fox News host Tucker Carlson said, "Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here?"

A conservative commentator and Fox News host, Carlson has a history of inflammatory comments about immigrants. In June 2017, he asked, "Why does America benefit from having tons of people from failing countries come here?" America has always billed itself as a land of opportunity where someone from what Carlson would call a "failing country" can work hard and live out their dreams. Carlson's own ancestors seem to have believed in that as well.

Mendelsohn dug up a letter that appears to be from a relative of Carlson's explaining why he came to America in the first place: "Partly because of the narrowness of opportunities ... I was seized at about this time of a violent desire to leave the country and seek my fortune in foreign parts."

4. Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio targeted suspected undocumented immigrants and mistreated inmates who couldn't speak English.

Arpaio took a lot of anti-immigrant actions during his time as Maricopa County Sheriff (the ACLU has a non-comprehensive list of some of his more egregious acts). In fact, it's how he built his reputation.

Of those, one move, discovered by the U.S. Justice Department, stands out: Arpaio singled out Latina inmates who couldn't speak English, denied them access to basic sanitary items, forced them to "remain with sheets or pants soiled from menstruation," and threw them in "solitary confinement for extended periods of time because of their inability to understand and thus follow a command given in English." His excuse? "They are in the United States, and they should start speaking English," he said in a 2006 interview.

As it turns out, according to Mendelsohn's research, Arpaio's immigrant ancestors didn't speak English for a long time after coming to the U.S. Additionally, Arpaio's well-documented disdain for "chain migration" (a derogatory term used to describe family-based immigration) seems especially hypocritical given that Mendelsohn found more than a dozen members of Arpaio's family who came to the country using that very method.

5. White House chief of staff John Kelly derided undocumented immigrants as people who "don't integrate well."

Kelly made news for comments about immigrants saying they are "not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society" and adding that "they don’t speak English ... they don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills."

According to Mendelsohn's research, Kelly's own great-grandfather had lived in the U.S. for 18 years, during which he didn't make an effort to become a citizen or speak English. It seems his own relatives are precisely the kind of people he says he doesn't want in the country.

6. Conservative commentator Tomi Lahren said, "Stop rewarding illegal behavior and put law-abiding Americans first."

"You don't just come into this country with low skills, low education, not understanding the language and come into our country because someone says it makes them feel nice," Lahren said on Fox News. "That's not what this country is based on."

In a tweet, she shrugged off suggestions that we should protect DACA beneficiaries, saying, "Or we could stop rewarding illegal behavior and put law-abiding Americans first."

Mendelsohn discovered that Lahren's own extended family wouldn't have lived up to the standards she set. Speaking English? Several lived in the country for decades without picking up the language. Not "rewarding illegal behavior"? Lahren's great-great-grandfather Constantin Dietrich was prosecuted for forging his own citizenship papers.

The truth is there's absolutely nothing new about this anti-immigrant rhetoric. It's just that the targets have changed over time.

Mendelsohn's Twitter feed is full of political cartoons dating back to the 1860s warning that immigrants pose a threat to American ideas, culture, and institutions. The idea that immigrants pose some sort of existential threat to the American way of life is as old as the country itself.

"One thing you learn very quickly when you spend as much time as I do immersed in genealogical records is that with a few notable exceptions — particularly African-Americans and Native Americans — every American family story pretty much goes back to an immigrant arriving on a boat in search of opportunity. It's just a question of how long ago it was," Mendelsohn says.

She hopes that by providing this much-needed historical context — by pointing out that the same stereotypes being used against immigrants now were once used against many of these critics' own ancestors — she can help bridge the gap between ideologies. Her project isn't about shaming anybody; it's about asking them to consider their own history.

"By using the historical record rather than relying on stereotypes and fear mongering ... people realize just how alike we all really are," she adds. "I want it to bring people together. Three of my grandparents were immigrants. My mother-in-law is an immigrant. My best friend's parents were both immigrants. I've always been incredibly proud of that."

A common rebuttal to Mendelsohn's work is that things were different back then and that people came here the right way. She has thoughts on that too.

"The 'legal' argument is specious because illegal immigration is a wholly contemporary concept," she says. "I recently saw a 1903 ship's manifest where a man said only that he was coming to America to meet a friend, 'address unknown.' Many of our ancestors pretty much waltzed in, only having to prove they were healthy and not criminals. That needs to be taken into consideration when you laud your ancestors for coming 'legally.' There's also a lot of mythologizing about our ancestors doing everything the 'right' way that evaporates when you look at the historical record."

Jennifer Mendelsohn. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Mendelsohn.

"Many of our ancestors cut corners as well. Many never learned English. Many never became citizens. There's no shame in that whatsoever. That what makes America America. People are people, and the immigrants hoping to come here today and realize the American dream are no different than our ancestors were, except that they may come from different parts of the world. Which is, of course, what many of these people are actually responding to."

In the end, the message is clear, and it is simple: We need to stop using fear to divide one another.

This comes up all the time. When announcing his run for president, Trump warned of immigrants who "have lots of problems," bringing drugs and crime to our country. Politically, maybe that message resonates with voters (he was elected, after all). Is that really who we want to be as a country, though?

"The bottom line is that there is a great fear and prejudice against immigrants, and it's the exact same fear and prejudice that has been directed against immigrants for centuries," Mendelsohn adds. "The people now speaking out against immigrants are, ironically, descended from people who were themselves discriminated against, and I'm here to remind them of that."

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

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The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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