Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, blames Asian immigrants for taking jobs from American citizens, specifically Black and Hispanic Americans.
Bannon was on CNN being interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on Friday when he defended his claims that bringing high-skilled immigrants into the U.S. to work may not be for the national economic interest, contrary to Trump’s comments in favor of such a plan.
Bannnon’s comments were based off claims from last year that two thirds of Silicon Valley CEOs are from south Asia or Asia and that “a country is more than an economic community.” Zakaria asked, “Isn’t that racist?”
“If you’re from Asia and you’re here, second-generation, you’re [an] American citizen, that’s absolutely no problem.
“These HB-1 (sic) visas where you come here… basically to take the jobs of American citizens is just not acceptable. And that’s not racist.
“By the way, the central beating heart of this is that Hispanics and Blacks have to get into the high valuated tech jobs; we’re never going to do that as long as they have unfair competition.”
According to Huffington Post, the overwhelming majority of H-1B visas go to Asian immigrants specifically from China and India who typically have bachelor’s degrees or higher and work in specialized fields like tech.
Bannon’s comments, however, are based off various stereotypes and fears of Asian immigrants.
John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), believes Bannon is particularly misguided by the “model minority” myth that Asians have higher incomes and higher levels of education than other minorities.
Yang told Huffington Post that Bannon’s comments were designed to turn minorities against each other.
“I think what Mr. Bannon is clearly trying to do is race-bait. He is trying to drive a wedge between races.. What he’s really doing is trying to limit opportunities for all minorities.”
Yang added that Bannon has “never demonstrated any sympathy for any minorities or any immigrants.”
“He’s just trying to draw a wedge and he’s hoping that somehow that African Americans and Hispanic Americans will read his quote and find alliance with him rather than with all the minorities.
“If he really believed that he wanted to get more opportunities for minorities… then he should be talking about increasing educational opportunities for minorities. He should not be talking about how one race is supposedly taking from another race. That’s just not the reality here.”
Later in the CNN interview, Bannon deflected when Zakaria confronted him on the names Trump called him after he left the White House.
“He calls you ‘sloppy Steve,’ he says you’ve lost your mind. He says you had nothing to do with his election,” Zakaria said.
“He’s Donald Trump. I think he’s doing a fantastic job. Look, everyday is going to be different… so you just got to swing with it.”