Donald Trump has raised suspicions that he will top Barack Obama’s record as the president who has deported the most amount of undocumented immigrants, a move that his own grandfather was victim of in 1905.
With reports last week that Trump is vastly expanding the state’s surveillance capabilities to widen the net of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Trump may soon quicken the rate of ICE raids, on track to accomplish his goal of deporting two to three million undocumented immigrants. Had he listened to his grandfather, though, the story may not be the same — and Trump may not have even been born in the United States or existed.
In a letter dating 1905, his grandfather, renamed Frederick Trump from Friedrich Drumpf, pleaded to Prince Luitpold of Bavaria that he stay in the country despite having dodged military service by moving to New York. After making a fortune, Trump moved back to Germany — then the Kingdom of Bavaria — to settle with his family. The letter, according to the AP and the historian that dug it up, is authentic.
“We were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick," wrote Trump's grandfather.
In the United States, one recent detainee was diagnosed with a brain tumor while in custody; another committed suicide shortly after being deported. Trump is also considering a policy that would separate immigrant mothers from their children as they await their deportation proceedings.
As if writing directly to his grandson, Trump continues, “Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur.”
Among Trump’s arguments for deporting so many immigrants is that their departure would propel his jobs plan forward, a premise that economists say does not hold since they are essential in holding up the U.S. economy.
The president suggested in his first address to Congress that he would create a path for eligible undocumented immigrants to obtain citizenship — likely also driven by economic motives — but has made no further reference to a plan or to details. His grandfather called a cancellation of his deportation “the most humble request.”
Despite their opposite views on deportations, there’s one thing that grandfather and grandson do hold in common: a reverence for a powerful leader. Trump the grandson may hold an irreverence in his own speech, but he certainly shares his grandfather’s view of the head of state as the “Most Serene, Most Powerful” and “Most Gracious Regent and Lord!”