RNC-Trump-Naturalization-Ceremony
Image via screengrab

Some of the five immigrants taking the oath didn’t know that the event was being broadcast on national television.

On night two of the 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC), President Donald Trump surprised the viewers with a novel tool to highlight his immigration agenda: perform a citizenship ceremony from the White House on live TV. According to a New York Times report, some of the five immigrants sworn in—from Lebanon, Bolivia, Sudan, India, and Ghana— had no idea their ceremony was going to be broadcast as part of the Republican convention.

Sudha Sundari Narayanan, 35, who immigrated from India, said she only found out that the ceremony had aired on national television when a friend called her later that night.

The reports also say that, in an apparent attempt at erasing his past comments on Mexicans, Trump even attempted to have an immigrant from that country take part in the ceremony. 

“White House officials requested information about the potential candidates for the ceremony and suggested the agency find immigrants from Mexico — something of a turnaround from Mr. Trump’s usual messaging on Mexico,” the Times report stated. It is not clear why it didn’t happen in the end.

The televised naturalized citizenship ceremony at the RNC was ironic because since Trump got elected, the president has firmly pushed an anti-immigrant agenda. From the Muslim travel ban to the border wall, visa restrictions, and separating children from their families at the border, Trump has made no qualms about keeping immigrants out of the United States. 

This year alone, in the middle of the pandemic, he initiated 13 anti-immigrant policies, including changing the eligibility requirements for a subsidized (low-income housing) application to stricter guidelines and raising the cost of naturalization applications by more than 80%

Several reports indicate that legal immigration in the U.S. has dropped considerably since Trump got elected

It’s remarkable,” David Bier, an immigration expert at the Cato Institute, told the New York Times last year. “This is something that really hasn’t happened since the Great Recession. This should be very concerning to the administration that its policies are scaring people away.”

Social media commentators qualified the event as hypocrisy, considering Trump’s record on immigration. They also noted that having Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Securit conduct the ceremony was a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from performing political activities on duty. 

“Trump has spent his entire political career demonizing immigrants,” former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton tweeted. “He’s caged migrant babies at the border. He’s used fear of ‘caravans’ as a political prop. Watching him preside over a naturalization ceremony last night was like watching a fox bless a henhouse.”