‘Trump Would Have Turned Away the Famine Irish Just Like the Salvadorans’

“The Irish Remedy – Emigration To America,” 1898. (Illustration via The New York Public Library Digital Collections)

“How much do you know about Salvadorans? More than you think, in fact.”

This is how Cahir O’Doherty of Irish Central begins his column, a piece that draws parallels between the struggles of the Irish immigrants of the 19th century and those of Salvadorans now. But in the case of the latter, they will not be afforded the same opportunities in the U.S. as the Trump administration ends temporary protected status for the more than 200,000 living here.

Recall that the majority of the Salvadorans who came here around 2001 were fleeing a devastating series of earthquakes, which is why they were given the special Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation in the first place.

We Irish know in our bones what it’s like to seek sanctuary in America after a life-changing natural disaster. What would have happened to us if men like Donald Trump and his party, the GOP, had taken that sanctuary away and turned us back?


The Irish, after all, were like the Salvadoran refugees of the 19th Century, unknown, foreign, “the other.” Donald Trump would have banned them. They fit his modern description perfectly of people of little use to the US – people to fear.


The Irish who made it here were never turned away. Otherwise, as an ethnic group, we would not exist. We should see a little of us in any immigrant community. We should see frightened families in search of refuge. We should see human misery making an appeal to human compassion.

O’Doherty goes on to say that had an “extreme vetting” process taken place back then, “the 19th-century Irish wouldn’t have gotten through.” And the families of many of the most famous Irish Americans would never have made it to these shores.

Go to Irish Central to read the full column.

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