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China has a new message for the U.S.: Don't be alarmed, we're not that great

By Amanda Erickson
China has a new message for the U.S.: Don't be alarmed, we're not that great
A member of the Chinese People's Liberation Army stands guard in front of a portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 28, 2016. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke MacGregor.

BEIJING - By President Donald Trump's account, China is an economic behemoth, out to destroy the United States.

In the last few years, he has compared China's leaders to "grand-chess masters" and accused Beijing of "raping" the U.S. economy and committing the "greatest theft in the history of the world." Last April, as the trade war with China was seemingly just ramping up, Trump tweeted thatit was "lost many years ago."

China has a different message: We're not that great. Really.

In the past several months, Beijing has urged its officials and party outlets to tamp down the swagger about China's economic strength. Rather than behemoth, Beijing has begun to pitch itself as a humble helper, an aide to countries in need.

Editorials in the state-run People's Daily cautioned against describing China's accomplishments as "the world's first" or "number one in the world." This kind of braggadocio, writers argued, "could easily make people misunderstand or even misjudge" the country. (This month, a professor who dared suggest that China's economy had already surpassed the United States' faced a social media backlash of students and alumni suggesting he should be fired.)

State media has been told to minimize references to Made in China 2025, a major initiative to turn China into a global leader in 10 key industries, including artificial intelligence, commercial airline development and pharmaceuticals.

"The trade war has made China more humble," Wang Yiwei, a professor of international affairs at Renmin University in Beijing and deputy director of the institution's "Xi Jinping Thought" center, told Bloomberg. "We should keep a low profile."

At a recent Washington reception, China's U.S. Ambassador Cui Tiankai said Beijing's goal is to develop itself, not to compete with other nations. "China has no intention to challenge the international standing and interests of any other country or the existing international order and system," he said.

It's an odd turn for China under leader Xi, who has sought to shed his country's modest foreign policy for a more aggressive, in-your-face quest for dominance. But experts say it's an attempt to mollify the Trump administration and other foreign leaders.

"There is an effort to downplay any potential Chinese threat to the U.S.," Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in an email.

Trump's 2017 National Security Strategy accused China of using "economic inducements and penalties, influence operations and implied military threats to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda." At the time of its release, a senior administration official called China a "strategic competitor." Glaser said the new modesty campaign was likely prompted by that American assessment. Richard McGregor, author of "The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers" called the shift "tactical, and little more."

"There is a realization in China that they may have been playing into the hands of their critics in the West by displaying their ambition so openly," he wrote in an email. "That ambition goes well beyond economics - China is also catching up and challenging the West, and particularly the U.S., for technological and geopolitical ascendancy and even parading itself as a political model, as an alternative to democracy."

China's modesty harks back to the rhetoric deployed by many of the country's past leaders. As Angela Stanzel, a senior policy fellow and editor of China Analysis at the European Council on Foreign Relations, put it, Xi's "predecessors have always downplayed China's development in comparison to the U.S."

"Hide your strength, bide your time," was one of former leader Deng Xiaoping's most famous sayings, a guiding foreign-policy principle for decades.

But when Xi came to power in 2013, he brought a different message, Stanzel said. China was a world-class country, Xi believed. It was time for it to behave that way.

Some of Xi's biggest and most public projects - like Made in China 2025 - are efforts to do just that. Xi has also expanded China's military muscle: The country now has the second-largest military budget in the world, with nuclear submarines, an aircraft carrier and more on the way, and stealth-fighter programs. And he has built new kinds of alliances with regional trade deals and what China calls the Belt and Road Initiative, an international, billion-dollar infrastructure investment project.

"It's a new narrative we haven't known before," Stanzel said.

Since the trade war with the United States erupted, "China is trying to be much more careful in what it's saying to the outside world," she said. "But that doesn't mean China means it."

China's current attempt to downplay its ambition may serve another purpose, too. In the last couple of months, a string of domestic challenges has shaken the country's faith in its leaders. Hundreds of thousands of children were given faulty vaccines, raising questions about whether parents can trust the medicine given to their kids.

Earlier this month, several victims of a crackdown on peer-to-peer lending networks tried to organize a protest in Beijing, calling for stricter regulation and bailouts for people who lost money in the lending crisis. Officials tracked down several of the organizers at their homes or en route to Beijing, essentially shuttering the protest.

There's frustration, too, over the party's response to President Trump's ever-escalating tariffs and threats. Beijing's more modest rhetoric may be an attempt to ease domestic expectations and urge Chinese people to be patient.

But already, remnants of Xi's old message are filtering back into the official conversation. As a recent editorial in the People's Daily put it:

"After more than a century of hard work, China has returned to the center of the world stage, and this is the basic fact we must observe in the China-U.S. trade friction . . . Such a large size, such a heavy thing, can't be hidden by 'being low key,' " it said. "Just like an elephant can't hide behind a sapling."

- - -

The Washington Post's Luna Lin contributed to this report.

What to do in Fargo, N.D.

By Melanie D.G. Kaplan
What to do in Fargo, N.D.
Street art in downtown Fargo, N.D. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Jenn Ackerman

Forget "Fargo."

Don't get me wrong - I loved the Coen brothers' dark crime comedy. But 22 years later, if you're still thinking only about the movie when you hear that word, it's time to rewire your brain. I'm here to tell you that this North Dakota city is not a godforsaken frozen wasteland of woodchippers. Fargo's a slice of Oz on the eastern edge of the Great Plains - quirky, colorful and full of surprises: a Scandinavian-Jewish lunch counter; a gay men's chorus; a thriving immigrant community; a winter "Frostival" with a mobile sauna; an artsy boutique hotel; Microsoft's third-largest campus; and a championship football team.

More than that, it's the people of Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, its sister city across the river, who have drawn me back multiple times. They all seem to share a remarkable can-do attitude and collaborative energy. Locals are quick to credit their forebears - the Scandinavian settlers who depended on each other to raise barns, harvest crops and recover from floods. That same work ethic, dynamism and community support help a new generation of makers, entrepreneurs and artists who dream big and often succeed. The long, frigid winters seem to only bolster Fargoans' industriousness and sense of humor.

When I showed up in June, I ran into a friend before we'd even had a chance to make plans - downtown's that small. That afternoon, I heard that drivers get a friendly written warning before their first parking ticket - locals are that nice. When you go, chat them up. See the woodchipper at the visitors center if you must. Then, get to know the real Fargo.

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GO

- Local faves

On autumn Saturdays, take your team spirit to the Fargodome, which houses the home football field of the North Dakota State Bison. The Thundering Herd, as the team is known, has won the NCAA Division I Football Championship tournament - a different animal than the bowl system - six of the past seven seasons. Fargoans bleed yellow and green year-round. (Insider tip: You'll hear chatter about Carson - that's Herd alumnus and hometown hero Carson Wentz, now in the NFL as a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.) Tailgating is a sight to behold: It begins at 4 a.m., and you'll find custom-wrapped buses and motor homes, propane-heated tents and vans donning bison horns. The dome seats 19,000 for games and 25,000 for concerts such as the recent Def Leppard and Journey shows. Across from the dome: the Fargo Air Museum.

I love stepping into places where you momentarily forget what state - or country - you're in. For utterly surreal, try Sons of Norway Kringen Lodge No. 25, where I felt certain about only one thing when I arrived at 1:28 p.m.: Pie Thursday would be over in two minutes. The lodge is among the largest in this Nordic heritage fraternal organization, and the building, an old Buick dealership with red carpet and walls, is decorated with Norwegian folk art, Viking carvings and rosemaling. (The last is a traditional painting style made up of scrolls and flowers; even the dumpster is rosemaled.) As I ate cherry pie in the dining room, a regular group played bridge and two volunteers chatted about lutefisk. On my way out with a pack of homemade lefse, a potato flatbread, I picked up a newsletter and glanced at "klub" activities open to the public: Norwegian lunches, walleye dinners, folk dancing, rosemaling practice and weekly live music in the Troll Lounge, which has a 96-foot mural and 22 hand-carved trolls.

- Guidebook musts

Outside Fargo, it's nearly impossible to mention the city without people commenting on the movie, so hats off to the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau for treating visitors to a little "Fargo." The CVB displays the screenplay and a promotional ice scraper, but the main attraction is the original woodchipper with a leg poking out. A friendly woman rushed over from behind her desk, holding a flannel hat with ear flaps. "Would you like me to take your picture in the hat? You can pretend to push the foot in." I handed her my camera and posed awkwardly. "Now," she said, "with a horrified look!" While I was there, a mother and daughter from Northern Virginia arrived and announced that North Dakota was their 50th state. The woman excitedly gave them "Best for Last Club" T-shirts and certificates, and the Virginians told us about their travels. I left the center and spent 36 hours in Fargo without hearing another peep about "Fargo."

Known for its American modernism and regional art, the Plains Art Museum was an early investor in the downtown's renaissance and has become a gathering place for the community. Located in a gorgeous turn-of-the century warehouse that once stored farm machinery, the museum has about 4,000 works in its permanent collection. There's a print studio, performance area, pollinator garden and space for workshops; one on Native American poetry and art will be held on Aug. 23. When I visited, I enjoyed a large audio installation, a William Wegman pup, a Warhol screen print of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy and David Bradley's Mona Lisa-esque 1990 painting "Pow-Wow Princess in the Process of Acculturation." The museum is free, thanks to members and donors. Some of its other funding comes from what's called charitable gaming, a widely accepted practice in North Dakota that generates millions of dollars in taxes (from blackjack and bingo, for example) for a state that offers meager funding to nonprofit organizations.

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EAT

- Local faves

In their dining-out days, my grandmothers would have loved BernBaum's. One collected midcentury modern furniture; the other whipped up Jewish meals and desserts like nobody's business. So I had to smile when I walked into Brett Bernath's Madhaus, which has largely been taken over by the fabulous lunch counter run by his wife, Andrea Baumgardner. She started making bagels in a corner of the furniture shop in 2016, and soon, BernBaum's eclipsed the Madhaus; much of Bernath's furniture (such as the pink fiberglass, boomerang-shaped, bowling-alley bench from the 1950s) has become restaurant seating. The Scandinavian-German and Jewish fare, reflecting the proprietors' heritages, includes potato latkes, knishes with mustard crème fraîche, cheese blintzes with lingonberry sauce, chicken matzo ball soup and brisket with ramps schmear and pickled rhubarb. You'll probably see Baumgardner, who trained at Chez Panisse, cooking on her 1948 four-burner stove below the "Shalom" sign. Don't miss her occasional themed dinners, which sell out quickly.

The owners of Wild Terra Cider and Brewing acknowledge the complete lack of commercial apple orchards in North Dakota. But that didn't stop them from opening Fargo's first cidery in December, and I'm thankful for that. Most of Wild Terra's dozen offerings, which change daily, are from the Pacific Northwest or Michigan. But it does craft some of its own ciders - including the blueberry and banana Stargazer, with apples from small local growers. The cidery is in a beautifully restored, century-old horse stable. The menu, all vegetarian, includes treats such as a Buddha bowl with microgreens and Brussels sprouts with "bacon" from the Herbivorous Butcher in Minneapolis. Locals gather for '80s movies upstairs on old-school sofas; a mustard-colored velvet one has national parks patches. The new co-op is next door.

- Guidebook musts

At Rustica Eatery & Tavern, just across the Main Avenue bridge in Moorhead, dinner is comfortable and neighborhoody. The more casual, seat-yourself tavern has a wood-burning pizza oven and copper beer taps, and the eatery, where I found a spot at the bar, has exposed brick walls, indistinct jazz playing in the background and a relaxed, classy vibe. Not surprising for this part of the country, the menu is meat-heavy, with rack of lamb and cornmeal-dusted local walleye, but it also features housemade pasta and a board so full of roasted veggies, dips and towering baguette slices that I needed a doggie bag. That plus a salad was just $9, thanks to a well-attended and hard-to-believe happy hour from 5 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.: You'll get half off all starters, soups, salads, pizzas, burgers, mac and cheese, and select beers and wines. No fine print.

The first thing I noticed about the cinnamon toast at Young Blood Coffee: It was as thick as a two-by-four. Then I saw the tiny lakes of butter pooling in the fresh sourdough, and I knew that if my childhood toast had looked like this, I would've never left home. Young Blood makes its own sourdough (a bargain at $5 per loaf, the same price as avocado toast) and roasts its own coffee beans. As I savored my slice of heaven, Rush played on vinyl atop the morning chatter. Nearby, I noticed a lovely green matcha latte with an Instagram-perfect design in the foamed milk. This new location is around the corner from hip Roberts Alley, which has an indoor bike parking lot like nothing I've ever seen: bike tools, a pump and gym-style lockers and benches.

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SHOP

- Local faves

If Etsy metamorphosed into a bricks-and-mortar shop, it would look like Unglued. Featuring more than 300 local and regional makers, mostly women, the shop is often bustling. Under twinkly lights and hundreds of origami cranes swooping down from the ceiling, you'll find a jigsaw puzzle of the famed Fargo Theatre; a onesie adorned with a loon, the Minnesota state bird; jewelry made from repurposed dishware; zipper pouches featuring hockey skates; and hair pomade from Dakotah Beard Oils. Yeobo Sweet Shop is in the back. How can you not love the bulk offerings when they're green apple Army guys, black currant gummy mustaches and giant sour spiders? If you'd rather DIY than buy, check out Unglued's classes in leatherworking, ceramics, embroidery and macramé.

For a uniquely Midwestern experience, head to Scheels, a nearly 200,000-square-foot mash-up of REI, Dick's Sporting Goods and Cabela's, with a 12-car Ferris wheel and enough taxidermied animals for a natural-history museum. Upon arriving, the world's friendliest cashier greeted me, and cheery welcomes continued as I ambled through the store. (I stopped counting at eight.) I passed all the expected sportswear and gear, as well as skateboards, pogo sticks, cornhole sets and Bison ties with green and yellow checks. An entire section features merch for lake life (locals' ubiquitous weekend activity), with packs of water balloons, kites and a gun that kills insects with a spray of table salt - all things you could buy cheaper online, but then you'd miss the archery shooting range, golf simulator and collection of life-size presidents around the store. And then there's the gun department upstairs (supposedly the largest in the state), where I snapped a picture of the "Youth Shotguns" section in case I later thought I'd imagined it.

- Guidebook musts

When I visited in June, Dakota Fine Art was still glowing from its lively grand opening. The nine prominent local and regional artists who own and run the gallery had reason to celebrate: The space is filled with stunning pieces that reflect Great Plains landscape and culture. Steve Revland, a furniture maker and one of the founding artists, had brought in his $3,750 chamcha root coffee table that morning. "It weighs 500 pounds," he told me, "and I got it here myself." Among the lighter-weight pieces is a playful series by photographer Meg Spielman Peldo featuring Corso, the rehabilitated bison who has become the NDSU mascot. "Water Buffalo" shows him at a swimming pool and "Bison Elevator" captures Corso in front of a grain elevator. By the way, Nichole's Fine Pastry, next door, has dreamy traditional desserts and Scandinavian treats such as krumkake and kransakake.

Just as I've begun to tire of homogenous retail boutiques that have a little bit of everything (Anthroplogie mini-me's, with well-made dresses, handcrafted home goods, tasseled pillows, sustainable soap), I came across Others. The shop may look like similar boutiques, with its beautiful products and minimalist decor, but founder Laura Morris has raised the bar by donating all store profits to education, social health and job creation. Morris, a pharmacist and Fargo native, opened the shop four years ago and has never taken an Others paycheck. With each purchase, shoppers support vulnerable populations around the globe: wooden spoons and bowls help fund employment programs for sex-trafficking survivors; hoop earrings made from recycled brass help jewelry-makers grow their businesses. Each set of sunglasses sold yields a free eye exam and glasses for someone in need; every Bogobrush sale means a toothbrush giveaway. This month, Others expects to reach the $500,000 mark for donations. Now that's something to shop about.

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STAY

- Local fave

When I first stayed at the Hotel Donaldson in 2015, I was blown away by the 17 artist-inspired rooms, daily wine-and-cheese happy hour, rooftop bar, turndown truffle and complimentary morning pastries delivered to my room. This is Fargo? Earlier this summer, when my beagle and I planned a rendezvous in town with my friend Margie, I knew exactly where we'd stay. The boutique hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of the river, shops and restaurants, although you'd eat very well even if you never left the property. Too tired to venture out, Margie and I kicked back in our room and enjoyed a HoDo flatbread with garden-fresh tomatoes and basil, along with fare we'd picked up from Vinyl Taco across the street. One taco was particularly spicy, and Margie, who grew up nearby, said "Uffda!" - a Norwegian exclamation of surprise that I'd seen on T-shirts and mugs. Rooms start at $184 per night.

- Guidebook must

Stepping into the Element by Westin in West Fargo feels a bit like checking into an eco-friendly spa, with its modern and minimalist decor, sunlit rooms and greenery at every turn. The pet-friendly hotel has priority parking for fuel-efficient vehicles, a Tesla charging station, free self-service laundry, a nice-size gym and pool, and complimentary shuttles to the airport and downtown. Most of the 130 rooms have a full kitchen. Borrow one of the Element's free bikes to pedal to dinner at the Blarney Stone Pub, or walk next door to Tru Blu Social Club. Studios start at $129 per night, including breakfast.

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EXPLORE

- Local fave

Here's a fun fact: The Red River flows north! This slow-moving waterway meanders 550 miles from Breckenridge, Minnesota, up to Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, and most of those miles form the border between North Dakota and Minnesota. From downtown, walk across Veterans Memorial Bridge, where you'll find signage with more trivia: "The Red River Valley is one of the flattest landscapes on Earth." Stroll north along the tree-lined river to nearby Hjemkomst Center, home to a replica Viking ship. You can rent kayaks there or farther south at Lindenwood Park on the Fargo side - which also rents bikes and has a cool pedestrian bridge to Gooseberry Mound Park in Moorhead. (Check it out: The bridge lifts when the river levels rise.) To retire by the Red at day's end, head to Lindenwood Campground, where tent sites cost $30 a day.

- Guidebook must

Just across the Red River, Moorhead is often overlooked by visitors. Granted, the high school's mascot is the spud, and the only unanimous recommendation I received from locals was to visit their Dairy Queen, where the Dilly Bar was supposedly invented. But even though Moorhead is couple of decades behind Fargo in downtown development, there are an increasing number of reasons to visit this side of the Red. Don't miss Bluestem Center for the Arts, a fantastic amphitheater venue. (Joan Jett, Cheap Trick and the Avett Brothers are still on deck this season.) Get your Zen on during free yoga on the Comstock House lawn, and get your drinks at Junkyard Brewing, which feels like a college party with nightly live music (I caught the Cropdusters), free popcorn, a taco truck and unexpected, always changing libations such as stout with peanuts and an experimental strawberry sour.

Muslims and Jews at Auschwitz test new bonds amid season of intolerance in Europe

By Griff Witte and Luisa Beck
Muslims and Jews at Auschwitz test new bonds amid season of intolerance in Europe
All possessions were confiscated from the prisoners of Auschwitz by the Nazis. These objects remain in the exhibit rooms of Auschwitz. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Luisa Beck.

OSWIECIM, Poland - He saw the gas chambers and the incinerators, the mounds of matted hair and the massed shoes of the departed.

After two days touring Auschwitz, the world's most notorious death camp, Amro was absolutely sure of one thing: "It happened. It's reality."

But something else still baffled the 24-year-old Syrian refugee. "I live in Germany. Germans gave me the opportunity to start my life over. They're my friends," said Amro, who asked his last name not be used because his family is still in Damascus, a city he fled to escape the country's all-consuming war.

"I can't understand how people like this could do something like that."

It's a version of the question every German is expected to reckon with, elemental to the country's determination not to repeat the sins of the past.

Now it was Amro's turn.

In a season of rising intolerance across Germany - and throughout Europe - the aspiring architect with light brown eyes and painful memories had been brought to Auschwitz as part of an experiment. At its heart is the belief that facing history's horrors can be a balm for the hatreds of today.

With Amro were two dozen other young people, half of them Muslim refugees and half Jewish Germans.

It was a novel formulation for a timeworn ritual. Europe has for decades used its Nazi-concentration-camps-turned-museums as a primary weapon in the fight to educate its citizens about the Holocaust and attempt to inoculate itself against the threat of future traumas in the name of "never again."

But never in Europe's postwar history has that credo faced such a constellation of challenges: More than 3 million refugees in the past three years, many from predominantly Muslim nations where anti-Semitic slurs are woven into state propaganda.

Add to that far-right movements on the march continentwide, exploiting fears about the new arrivals, preaching prejudice and winning votes. And extremists on all sides are seizing the moment to perpetrate violence.

Even history itself has not been safe from assault: The staff of Auschwitz was targeted for abuse this spring by Polish nationalists after the government sought to criminalize any attempt to cast Poles as Holocaust aggressors, rather than victims.

Against that backdrop, the band of Muslims and Jews brought to Auschwitz last week seemed unlikely to do much to alter a continent's trajectory.

And yet, they represented a small but important test.

The idea of taking young refugees for visits to concentration camps has gained currency in Germany as a way to blunt a troubling rise in anti-Semitism and to integrate the new arrivals into a country where the culture of remembrance is sacrosanct.

But how would it work to bring Jews and Muslims to Auschwitz together?

Leaders of Germany's Central Council of Muslims and the Union of Progressive Jews - who organized the first-of-its-kind trip - knew they were taking a risk.

Would the scene of so much suffering inspire reflection or recrimination? Would the past feel relevant to the present? And would the refugees, most of whom arrived in their new country within the last three years, even speak German well enough for a meaningful conversation?

"I really didn't know what to expect," said Rabbi Walter Homolka, chair of the Jewish group.

Nor did Amro. Growing up in Syria, he learned little about the Holocaust in school and certainly did not know many Jews.

After a week of visiting the death camps and learning about history's largest-scale genocide, Amro found himself connecting with the victims of atrocities seven decades ago that reminded him of the mass killings and torture that forced him to flee his native land.

"That was the 20th century. This is the 21st. But there are a lot of similarities," he said somberly as he walked from the collection of modest brick barracks where 1.1 million prisoners were systematically shot, beaten, gassed and starved to death between 1940 to 1945.

He also quickly bonded with the others on the tour.

After a day of solemn remembrance amid the ruins of the camp's gas chambers, Amro invited one of his fellow participants, 18-year-old Jewish student Amanda Pidgornij, to watch a comedy. A very particular comedy: "Look Who's Back," a 2015 film that imagines Hitler returning from the dead.

"He walks around Berlin and sees how many foreigners are there," Pidgornij said. "It's a nice sign that he didn't win."

But as the revived Hitler becomes a television star and vows to "make Germany great again," some jeer. Others salute.

The movie's unsettling subtext - that extreme prejudice may be making a comeback - was a frequent topic of conversation when the group shared meals or talked after hours at the interfaith dialogue center where they stayed, and where the images of the Nazis' victims gaze out from photos on the walls.

Many wondered about the far right, which returned last year to the German Parliament for the first time in more than half a century. The party campaigned on anti-Muslim rhetoric, and its leaders frequently minimize the significance of the Holocaust.

"Should we be worried?" wondered Abdu, an 18-year-old Syrian refugee who, like others on the tour, spoke fluent German.

Inna Shames, a Jewish community leader whose family fled to Uzbekistan to escape the Nazis and then returned to Germany decades later to escape militant Islam, described over lunch her fears about rising anti-Semitism. She said her synagogue has had to implement strict security measures in recent years amid growing threats from both the far right as well as from extremist Muslims.

"I can feel it. I'm scared," she said.

But the visit to Auschwitz alongside refugees had, she said, given her at least some hope that her country is not destined to turn back toward intolerance. She had watched as Muslims and Jews respectfully listened and learned from one another, and she came away optimistic.

Others, including a handful of regional politicians who accompanied the group on its visit, said they were similarly encouraged.

Learning about the Holocaust - often including a visit to a concentration camp - is a rite of passage for German children. Officials said refugees should take part in that and that last week's interfaith visit to Auschwitz should become a model.

"We have refugees in Germany who have to get accustomed to our culture of remembrance," said Karin Prien, education minister in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. "We have to explain to them why this is part of our identity."

Whether Muslims can belong to that German identity has become a matter of debate. The far-right Alternative for Germany asserts Islam is not part of Germany, and the country's interior minister - a coalition partner of Chancellor Angela Merkel - has agreed.

The visit to Auschwitz marked an implicit rebuke - an expression of German identity by people who are not always made to feel German.

"One can't want to visit this site," said Aiman Mazyek, the 49-year-old head of the Central Council for Muslims, in an interfaith service outside a courtyard where thousands of prisoners were executed.

"One has to visit this site to at least try to understand the responsibility we carry. As Germans, as Muslim Germans, we also carry responsibility for our country."

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Video Embed Code

Video: The Post followed a group of young Jews and Muslim refugees who toured the world's most notorious Nazi death camp and talked about the nature of intolerance in 2018.(Luisa Beck,Sarah Parnass,Griff Witte/The Washington Post)

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Republicans are playing with fire in the states

By e.j. dionne jr.
Republicans are playing with fire in the states

E.J. DIONNE COLUMN

(Advance for Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, and thereafter. Web release Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Dionne clients only)

By E.J. DIONNE JR.

WASHINGTON -- The backlash to President Trump and the steady rightward journey of the Republican Party could sharply shift the distribution of political power in state capitols across the nation in this fall's elections. And because reapportionment is coming, this could change the contours of American politics for more than a decade.

Strengthening that possibility is the success of pragmatic Democrats in gubernatorial primaries who are stressing issues that appeal simultaneously to the center and the left.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin Democrats chose Tony Evers, the state schools superintendent, to face two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker. In Minnesota, Democrats nominated Rep. Tim Walz to defend his party's hold on the state's governorship. Both Evers and Walz advance progressive priorities in areas such as education and health care but cannot be cast as ideologues.

Democratic gubernatorial nominees are similarly positioned in Ohio, Iowa and Michigan, all pickup opportunities.

At the same time, Trump's dominance of the Republican primary electorate and the long-term flight of moderates from an increasingly conservative party have led to victories by right-wing candidates who may not be attractive to a broader electorate.

One of Tuesday's headline results was the defeat of former Gov. Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota by Trump-supporting Jeff Johnson, a county commissioner who castigated Pawlenty for criticizing Trump toward the end of the 2016 campaign following the release of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

In Connecticut, Republicans took a pass on Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who could claim a local record of bipartisanship. They opted instead for outsider businessman Bob Stefanowski, who proposes repealing the state's income tax.

Incumbent Democrat Gov. Dan Malloy is not seeking re-election, but his unpopularity makes Connecticut the GOP's best hope for taking a Democratic seat. Ned Lamont, a longtime party activist who easily won the Democratic nomination, wants to link Stefanowski to Trump, and the president helped this process along on Wednesday. In a tweet, the president offered his "total Endorsement" to Stefanowski, whom the president called "talented" and "a major difference maker."

And in Kansas on Tuesday, the Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer finally conceded the GOP primary race to Secretary of State Kris Kobach, after nearly a week of tallying ballots. Kobach is a Trump loyalist with far-right views on immigration and restricting access to voting. Kobach's victory greatly increases the chances of the Democrats' nominee, state Senator Laura Kelly. The Cook Political Report immediately reclassified the race as a toss-up in a traditionally Republican state.

Like many Democrats, Kelly is focusing on schools. It's an issue with particular power in Kansas. Former Gov. Sam Brownback -- he left office before his term was out -- had reduced education spending to pay for large tax cuts.

The program became so unpopular that it was rolled back on a bi-partisan vote in the legislature, and Kelly has targeted the Brownback plan (she calls it his "big tax-cut experiment") in her advertising. "Sam Brownback's massive education cuts weren't numbers on a spreadsheet," she says. "They were an attack on who we are as Kansans."

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the chair of the Democratic Governors Association, says that Kansas offers a particularly dramatic example of what is happening in many other Republican-led states. "Everyone knows about the Trump effect, but the untold story is Republican governors going on ideological tears in their states," Inslee said in a telephone interview. "You have a one-two punch to Republican prospects both from the White House and from the damage that's been wrought out of the state houses."

Republicans now control 33 governorships to only 16 for the Democrats, with one independent in Alaska. Democrats are defending just nine governorships this year, and only four seem competitive. Cook rates Minnesota along with Connecticut as the most vulnerable Democratic-held seats, one reason the party welcomed the GOP primary results. Colorado and Oregon also look to be closely contested.

On the other hand, 11 of the Republicans' 26 governorships at stake this year appear vulnerable. Illinois and New Mexico already lean Democratic, and seven others are tossups. These include the powerhouse states of Florida, Michigan and Ohio. The GOP will also have to struggle to hold on to Wisconsin and Georgia.

The governments elected this year will be key to drawing congressional and state legislative district lines after the 2020 census. So even Republicans who demonstrated slavish loyalty to Trump to win primaries are likely to regret his presidency (and their own ideological enthusiasms) if 2018 leads to a statehouse catastrophe. They have been playing with fire, and it could consume them.

E.J. Dionne's email address is ejdionne@washpost.com. Twitter: @EJDionne.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

Markets know better than bureaucrats what society needs

By george f. will
Markets know better than bureaucrats what society needs

GEORGE WILL COLUMN

(Advance for Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, and thereafter. Web release Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Will clients only)

WRITETHRU: 3rd to last graf, 2nd to last sentence: "owners' taxi medallions." sted "owners' taxis medallions."

By GEORGE F. WILL

WASHINGTON -- Governments, seemingly eager to supply their critics with ammunition, constantly validate historian Robert Conquest: The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies. Consider North Carolina's intervention in the medical-devices market.

Born in India, Dr. Gajendra Singh is an American citizen and a surgeon in Winston-Salem who wants to supply something useful for which there is a strong demand. North Carolina's government is, however, an almost insuperable impediment to his doing so.

Singh runs a medical diagnostic imaging center where patients can get X-rays, echo-cardiograms, ultrasounds and CT (computed tomography) scans. It cannot, however, be a full-service center without an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine, and local hospitals offering MRIs are averse to competition.

Americans with high-deductible insurance plans, which are increasingly prevalent, especially need low-cost diagnostic services. The median Winston-Salem household income is about $40,000. The average MRI scan at a North Carolina hospital costs $2,000. Singh charges $500-$700 for the MRIs he does using rental machines that the state's harassing law requires to be moved once a week. Singh wants to buy an MRI machine. North Carolina, however, has a "certificate of need" (CON) law, requiring Singh to prove to the Soviet-style central planners in the state government that Singh's area needs another machine.

Such state and local CON laws proliferated in the 1970s as the federal government began pouring money into health care and government-funded hospitals tried to protect their revenue streams. Just for the privilege of submitting an application to buy an MRI Singh would have to pay a nonrefundable $5,000 fee and be prepared to spend $400,000 (lawyers, consultants, economists) to surmount the opposition of determined competitors. The only two providers of fixed (not mobile rental) MRIs in Singh's county are at two multibillion-dollar hospitals.

Fortunately, Singh has the support of the Institute for Justice's litigators who are wielding on his behalf four provisions of North Carolina's constitution: First, "Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free state and shall not be allowed." Second, "No person ... is entitled to exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges." Third, "No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws." Fourth, Singh has a due-process right to participate in the health care market without arbitrary, irrational impediments.

There are states where aspiring entrepreneurs must pay (application fees, lawyers) just to try to surmount the opposition of established businesses in order to get a CON entitling them to open a car dealership, operate a moving company, run a food truck or enter other areas of enterprise. And the audacity of economic interests clamoring for government protection from domestic competition seems to be increasing as the Trump administration, with tariffs and import quotas, practices crony capitalism to protect favored industries and companies from foreign competition.

For example, this month a federal court, following the example of other courts that have swatted aside cases from Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Georgia, unanimously rejected this preposterous argument from Miami-Dade County (Florida) taxi owners: The U.S Constitution says private property shall not be taken for "public use" without just compensation, so they should be compensated because the government has permitted ride sharing services (e.g., Uber and Lyft) that have substantially reduced the value of the owners' taxi medallions. Governments sell medallions and keep them scarce in order to keep prices high for the benefit of the government and past buyers.

Displaying heroic patience in the presence of meretriciousness, the court explained that the government had not given the medallion owners an entitlement to protection from competition. As a federal judge said in a similar case, "A license to operate a coffee shop doesn't authorize the licensee to enjoin a tea shop from opening."

There are three important lessons from North Carolina's CON mischief. First, domestic protectionism that burdens consumers for the benefit of entrenched economic interests (e.g., occupational licensing that restricts entry to professions for no reason related to public health and safety) is even more prevalent and costly than are tariffs and import quotas that interfere with international trade. Second, the sprawling, intrusive, interventionist, administrative state -- aka modern government -- that recognizes no limits to its competence or jurisdiction is inevitably a defender of the entrenched and hence a mechanism for transferring wealth upward. Third, only courts can arrest the marauding of the political class when, with unseemly motives, it pretends to know more than markets do about society's needs.

George Will's email address is georgewill@washpost.com.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

Will inflation kill the economy?

By robert j. samuelson
Will inflation kill the economy?

ROBERT J. SAMUELSON COLUMN

(FOR IMMEDIATE PRINT AND WEB RELEASE)

(For Samuelson clients only)

By ROBERT J. SAMUELSON

WASHINGTON -- Inflation is back. What do we do about it? For starters: Don't ignore it.

The latest consumer price index (CPI) -- the government's best-known inflation indicator -- reported a 2.9 percent increase from July 2017. The last time the year-over-year gain was higher was in December 2011. Though hardly a cause for panic, it suggests intensifying price and wage pressures in an economy straining at its productive capacity. The Trump administration and its critics should be watching closely.

Consider. Rents rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier; hospital prices increased 4.6 percent, gasoline 25 percent and eating out 2.8 percent. Still, some price increases were small or nonexistent, offsetting some gains. New vehicle prices edged up a mere 0.2 percent, electricity was down 0.8 percent and airline fares dropped 4.1 percent.

The reason for paying attention to inflation is that, once it accelerates, it's hard to stop. That's what happened in the 1960s and 1970s. The quest to reduce unemployment led to easy money that spawned double-digit inflation. CPI inflation went from about 1 percent in 1960 to 6 percent in 1969 to 13 percent in 1979. It was crushed only in the early 1980s when the Federal Reserve raised interest rates sharply.

This searing episode taught many important lessons, but we're in danger of forgetting them because a majority of today's Americans didn't experience the high inflation. (In 2017, the U.S. population was 326 million; roughly two-thirds weren't alive or were too young to understand the high inflation.) Here are four significant takeaways.

(1) (BEG BOLD)Don't buy into the argument -- made often in the late 1960s and early 1970s -- that a "little bit more inflation" won't be harmful and will help reduce unemployment(END BOLD). Superficially, this sometimes seemed true, but "a little bit more inflation" led to "a little bit more" and then "a little bit more." Soon, there was a lot of inflation, which created an inflationary psychology. Expecting more inflation, companies and workers tried to get ahead of the process by preemptively raising wages and prices.

(2) (BEG BOLD)High inflation is ultimately harmful to the economy, because it subverts both stability and growth(END BOLD). From 1969 to 1982, there were four recessions (1969-70, 1973-75, 1980 and 1981-82) as the Federal Reserve vacillated between fighting inflation and joblessness. Both got worse. Monthly unemployment peaked at 10.8 percent in 1982. Even before adjusting for inflation, the stock market stagnated from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s.

(3) (BEG BOLD)People hated high inflation(END BOLD). For most of the 1970s, Americans listed high inflation as the nation's No. 1 problem. High and rising inflation created enormous uncertainty. People had more trouble planning for the future. They didn't know whether their incomes would keep up with their expenses; there was (or so it seemed) a random redistribution of income among groups, depending more on luck or political clout than any economic logic. In a post-election interview with journalist Theodore H. White, President Carter singled out inflation as a crucial factor in his defeat.

(4) (BEG BOLD)Productivity matters(END BOLD). As is now understood, high productivity growth -- efficiency -- makes it easier for firms to avoid raising prices. Gains in efficiency cut costs; the savings can be passed along to workers in higher wages, shareholders in higher profits or consumers in lower prices. Prices need not be boosted. Unfortunately, U.S. productivity growth languished in the 1970s; the same is true today. This makes it harder to contain inflation.

Since late 2015, the Fed has been gradually raising interest rates in hope of heading off future inflation increases. This focus is surely justified. But it's not clear whether the Fed's moves amount to too little too late, or too much too soon. The Fed's forecasting record is at best spotty. If we get this wrong, it could kill the economy.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

The unintended consequences of U.S. disengagement

By david ignatius
The unintended consequences of U.S. disengagement

DAVID IGNATIUS COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, and thereafter. Web release Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Ignatius clients only)

WRITETHRU: Breaking up 1st graf into 2 grafs. "And, personally, I fear that the region's baseline expectation" sted "And its baseline expectation"; 9th graf, 1st sentence: "against MBS within the Saudi royal family, business community, clergy and military." sted "against MBS within the royal Saudi family, business community and military." 2ND WRITETHRU: 5th to last graf, 2nd sentence: "the Saudis reversed 40 percent of the increase" sted "the Saudis restored 40 percent of the cut"

By DAVID IGNATIUS

WASHINGTON -- An Arab diplomat recently chided an American audience for speculating about what "the new Middle East" may look like. Open your eyes, he said: The new Middle East is already here.

And, personally, I fear its baseline expectation is that American power and values won't matter in the way they once did.

The diplomat was Yousef al-Otaiba, the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates, and he was speaking at a public gathering last month of the Aspen Security Forum. He explained to an audience of policymakers and journalists the consequences of disengagement: "One very senior [U.S.] official looked at me once and said there's no constituency in the U.S. for us doing more in the Middle East. When we hear that, it means we need to do things on our own."

What does "doing things on our own" look like for Middle East nations? Well, it means closer relations with Russia and China, for starters. Otaiba noted that on the very day (July 19) he was giving his Aspen talk, President Xi Jinping had arrived in Abu Dhabi. And why not? China is the UAE's largest trading partner.

Otaiba gave another example of the traditional regional order, transformed. He remarked that this year, "the prime minister of Israel [Benjamin Netanyahu] is [visiting] Moscow more frequently than he visits Washington." Otaiba noted that if he had made such an observation 10 years ago, "you would have thought I was absolutely crazy." (By my count, Netanyahu has this year made three Moscow trips but just one to Washington.)

A country that has dreamed, during the Obama and Trump presidencies, of being less entangled in the problems of the Middle East may finally be getting its wish. America is less involved, and inevitably, it is less influential.

Maybe I'm a foreign-policy dinosaur. But I still want a modernizing Middle East that shares America's values, and I regret our loss of influence -- and even more, the way that decent people and ideas suffer when the umbrella of American hegemony is withdrawn or discarded. Since Otaiba's remarks, I've seen new examples of bad decisions when leaders decide that Uncle Sam doesn't matter.

Topping the list of this summer's dumbest Middle East mistakes is Saudi Arabia's move to punish Canada for criticizing human-rights policies in the kingdom. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MBS, looked hypocritical and harshly repressive for allowing Saudi women to drive and simultaneously cracking down on female activists.

MBS may not realize it, but the human-rights squeeze also makes him look weak under fire: It causes Western analysts to review their assessments about the possible spread of dissent against MBS within the Saudi royal family, business community, clergy and military. Sorry, your highness, but confident leaders don't expel Canadian ambassadors.

I'm still rooting for MBS to succeed in reforming culture, religion and society in the biggest, most important Sunni Arab economy. But it's harder for him to do the right thing in a post-American Middle East, where the role models are authoritarian leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi -- and the current avatar of American power is Donald Trump.

Even Trump seems to be having trouble managing MBS. The Saudis reportedly raised oil production in June to help pressure Iran; but in July, the Saudis reversed 40 percent of the increase, according to the Financial Times. Maybe MBS' deal with Putin to manage oil prices through a so-called "OPEC Plus" matters more than any promise to Trump.

The summer's second lesson in post-American folly is Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a leader who seems convinced he can intimidate anyone. The trigger for this latest crisis is Erdogan's refusal to release the detained U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson apparently unless he's exchanged for a convicted Turkish felon in an American prison.

Erdogan seems ready to abandon the NATO alliance itself, rather than compromise. He apparently thinks (like so many other leaders in the region) that if he riles America, he can make alternative deals with Russia or China. (You have to credit Trump for being as intractable in this feud as Erdogan.)

But guess what? Even in a world where America's military and diplomatic power seems to be in retreat, there's an element of the American-led order that's as strong as ever -- our dominance of the global economy. Erdogan may think he can bluff his way through the Brunson crisis, but Turkish banks, construction companies and bondholders know better.

In the still-global economy, going it alone really isn't an option, folks. This summer, as ever, we sink or swim together.

David Ignatius can be reached via Twitter: @IgnatiusPost.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

Trump's failure to condemn the bigots of the alt-right tars his presidency

By marc a. thiessen
Trump's failure to condemn the bigots of the alt-right tars his presidency

MARC A. THIESSEN COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, August 15, 2018, and thereafter. Web release Tuesday, August 14, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Thiessen clients only)

WRITETHRU: Headline: "condemn the bigots" sted "reject the bigots"; 2nd graf, 2nd to last sentence: "African American and Hispanic unemployment rates are at near record lows." sted "The unemployment rate for Americans with a high school education is at near-record lows, as are the African American and Hispanic unemployment rates."

By MARC A. THIESSEN

WASHINGTON -- How can a president as successful as Donald Trump be so unpopular?

Fueled by his historic tax reform and an unprecedented regulatory rollback, the economy grew by 4.1 percent in the second quarter. The unemployment rate is just 3.9 percent -- near the lowest it has been in nearly two decades -- and the New York Times reports, "Job growth is on a record streak [and] American factories ... are hiring at their fastest rate in two decades." African American and Hispanic unemployment rates are at near record lows. And the unemployment rate for women is the lowest it has been since 1953.

Virtually everyone is doing better thanks to the Trump economic boom. And yet the president's approval rating is stuck at 42 percent. Even worse, his disapproval rating has risen 11 points since his inauguration. When asked if Trump is doing an "excellent," "pretty good," "fair" or "poor" job as president, a stunning 45 percent say Trump is doing a "poor" job.

Part of his disapproval is driven by the intensity of the Democratic "resistance," and the ongoing investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has certainly taken its toll. Others are put off by his tweetstorms and the chaotic nature of an administration that produces self-inflicted wounds such as family separations at the border.

But ultimately, what makes it impossible for many Americans who approve of Trump's policies to also approve of Trump's presidency is his failure to definitively reject and ostracize the bigots who inhabit the fever swamps of the alt-right. A year after Charlottesville, Trump has still not explicitly condemned them. "Riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division," Trump tweeted Saturday morning. "We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!"

Sorry, that's not good enough. Not all types of racists were marching in his name in Charlottesville. Not all types of racists held a rally after his election in which they shouted "Hail Trump!" Not all types of racists continue to claim to be a part of Trump's coalition.

The fact that the Unite the Right rally in front of the White House on Sunday fizzled does not let Trump off the hook. His defenders will argue that there are always protesters outside the White House, and none of his Republican or Democratic predecessors was expected to comment on them. Why should Trump have to do so? The answer is simple: because the ethno-nationalists of the alt-right have embraced him, and Trump has failed to make clear that he does not accept their support.

This is not hard. After some white nationalists praised a recent monologue she delivered, Fox News host Laura Ingraham went on the air and blasted them, declaring to "all white nationalists ... you don't represent my views, and you are antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear."

Why can't Trump bring himself to say the same thing?

Trump's failure to reject the bigots of the alt-right not only tars his presidency, it also tars his supporters. The overwhelming majority of people who voted for Trump are not racists. They are good, decent, patriotic Americans who were sick and tired of being ignored by the political establishments of both parties in Washington. They had legitimate grievances that were not being addressed, from the opioid crisis to an economy that was not giving them the chance to work and pursue lives of dignity.

Trump's election finally gave them a voice. But his failure to condemn the alt-right allows his critics to dismiss his supporters' valid concerns and lump them in with the tiny minority of bigots who have embraced the president.

His failure to condemn the alt-right has also prevented him from expanding his support beyond his core supporters. With his record, he should be winning over millions of Americans who did not vote for him in 2016 but whose circumstances have markedly improved under his presidency. Instead, his support is stagnant and his disapproval is growing. He would gain far more supporters by rejecting alt-right bigots than he would lose.

The fact is many Americans support Trump's policies -- from his outstanding Supreme Court picks to his bold economic reforms -- but don't support him for one simple reason: They don't want to be associated with a man who seems to have so much trouble telling the white nationalists of the alt-right that they don't represent his views and are antithetical to the beliefs he holds dear.

Follow Marc A. Thiessen on Twitter, @marcthiessen.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

In Trump's America, there's no 'right way' to be an immigrant

By esther j. cepeda
In Trump's America, there's no 'right way' to be an immigrant

ESTHER CEPEDA COLUMN

(Advance for Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018, and thereafter. Web release Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Cepeda clients only)

By ESTHER J. CEPEDA

CHICAGO -- There's one word that I get more angry email about than any other: "illegal."

Some readers get infuriated that I don't use the word enough, because they truly believe most immigrants fall into this category.

This is wrong, of course. There were more than 43.7 million immigrants living in the United States in 2016, according to the Migration Policy Institute, and nearly three-quarters of them are living here legally.

Others recoil at criticisms of the Trump administration's treatment of immigrants, screeching in all-caps: "Our president is only targeting the illegal ones!" They usually argue that President Trump just wants to punish those who didn't come to the United States "the right way."

This is intellectually dishonest. But if anyone still really believes in this fig leaf that Trump is only targeting "illegal immigrants," let's rip it away: This administration targets all immigrants, regardless of their status.

For starters, it is legal and proper for migrants who fear for their lives to request asylum at United States borders. However, reports from immigrant advocates -- including the ACLU and the American Immigration Council -- allege that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are breaking both U.S. and international laws by denying them entry.

Brian Hoffman, a pro bono coordinator at the International Institute of Akron, an Ohio-based advocacy organization, recently said during a press briefing that he and others volunteering at the border observed agents making migrants wait for hours in scorching heat of more than 100 degrees. Some migrant families camped out overnight to maintain their spots in line, only to be turned away.

For immigrants already in the country legally, the Trump administration wants to severely limit so-called "chain migration," i.e., the process by which U.S. citizens or permanent residents can sponsor family members to come to the country and eventually become citizens themselves.

Yes, this is the very process that enabled First Lady Melania Trump's parents to become citizens late last week.

In the near future, Trump might start limiting the number of legal immigrants who can become naturalized citizens or be granted permanent legal residence (i.e., a green card) by disqualifying any applicants who have ever used children's health insurance (CHIP), "Obamacare," the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or other social safety-net benefits. This would also apply to anyone living in a household with someone who received these benefits.

Drafts of the Trump administration's proposals to change the existing rules for pursuing legal permanent residence have been floating around since last March. But immigrant advocates point out that the upcoming midterms has given the proposal fresh momentum.

"The latest reports of an updated draft really does seem to indicate that they are moving forward with publishing these proposed changes before Labor Day," said Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigrant Law Center, during a recent press briefing. "We've also heard separately that this is [Trump adviser] Stephen Miller's top priority on immigration, because he believes it's going to help them for the purposes of the midterm election."

Hincapie and many others see these moves as part of a larger strategy to instill fear in immigrant communities, regardless of their status, and potentially starve 20 million people of resources they are legally entitled to and desperately need.

During the same press briefing, Olivia Golden, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Law and Social Policy said, "This is a policy to deter immigrants from accessing services, and we've already seen the effects. Parents, early-childhood education workers and others are reporting that families are taking children out of SNAP, not taking them to the doctor and not signing children up for early-childhood classes. We are already seeing children -- overwhelmingly U.S.-born -- bearing the brunt of the damage."

As with all other immigration policy, however, harming immigrants hurts everyone. If legal immigrants drop out of the health care exchanges to avoid becoming ineligible for a green card, it could make rates go up for others. If parents take children off Medicaid programs, school systems could be left unable to get reimbursement for special-education services.

Face it, if 20 million legal immigrants stop seeking any number of services in order to not jeopardize their potential to get a green card in the future, it will almost certainly unleash unintended consequences on U.S.-born citizens in ways we can't even begin to imagine.

Let's stop pretending that Trump's enmity toward immigrants has anything to do with whether they are legal or "illegal." It's clear that the only "right way" for immigrants to be in Trump's America is if they are rich, persecuted or gone.

Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com, or follow her on Twitter: @estherjcepeda.

(c) 2018, Washington Post Writers Group

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