They spoke out against immigrants. So she unearthed their own immigrant ancestors

(CNN) If you feel the ongoing immigration debates may apply to you, Jennifer Mendelsohn has some news: They probably perform.

The girl calls it #resistancegenealogy , and it just takes a few online tools plus some instinctive sleuthing for her to contact out public figures who are at odds of common forms of immigration.

“I think the very first person I worked on was Sam King, ” Mendelsohn says from the Iowa congressman who in March 2017 stated “you cannot repair civilization with somebody else’s infants. ”

“I kept thinking, ‘This is absurd, ” she told CNN. “How do these people think they have the leg to stand on, searching down on immigrants when so many United states people have an immigration story within their history? ”

Sure enough, her research directed her toward King’s own migrant history: His 4-year-old grandmother plus her two young siblings attained Ellis Island in 1894.

Mendelsohn pulled out similar historical receipts regarding Dan Scavino, the White Home Director of Social Media. Earlier this particular month Scavino voiced his opposition in order to chain migration , by which households immigrate to a country in little groups over time.
It only took a couple of hours for Mendelsohn to trace Scavino’s origins in America back to 1904, when their great-grandfather’s brother became the first associated with several Scavinos to immigrate through Italy in very similar fashion.

Showing prejudice is nothing new

But the girl says her project isn’t regarding shaming people with their immigrant background. It’s quite the opposite, says Mendelsohn.
“It shows just how universal immigration is in so many United states stories. Some people who’ve been in the nation longer, it may not feel that close and it is easy for them to forget. ”
The obituaries, marriage announcements, ship manifests, historic archives, government documents and census data Mendelsohn uses don’t forget since easily.
Mendelsohn’s projects also help people understand that some of the more negative narratives of recent immigration aren’t actually that contemporary at all.
“So many people today are kind of looking askance at the next influx of immigrants and pearl-clutching, wanting to put limits on them and what they might contribute to modern society. And I just have a good laugh at that, because the same specific things were said about their particular ancestors 100 years ago, ” Mendelsohn says.
In Scavino’s case, she mentioned on Twitter that his Italian language immigrant ancestors were viewed with all the same type of prejudice that modern-day anti-immigration hard-liners sometimes cast upon African, Hispanic or Middle Far eastern immigrants.
And yes, there is an element of competition at play that is difficult to pin number down through family trees or even vintage political cartoons.
“There’s a fearfulness that immigrants are getting browner, inch Mendelsohn says. “When the Sam Kings of the world talk about ‘someone else’s babies, ‘ they’re not really talking about a little German baby such as his grandmother was. ”

Uncovering the shared history

When Tomi Lahren criticized Dreamers and their families since not ” law-abiding citizens , ” Mendelsohn was quick to point out Lahren’s personal ancestor was indicted for forging naturalization papers.
While Mendelsohn’s followers have got certainly enjoyed the apparent hypocrisy she has uncovered, there’s another, possibly more productive side to #resistancegenealogy: Appreciating the brave, painful, varied immigrant stories that made a lot of people Americans.
Mendelsohn herself is descended through Jewish ancestors.
“In my own family tale, some of the people who chose not to immigrate lost their lives, ” the girl said. “These things have actual consequences. ”
Mendelsohn hopes that embracing migrants as a fundamental part of America — whether they are fleeing persecution, battle or famine; whether they are arriving for opportunity, safety or independence; whether they hail from Mexico or even Southern Europe or the Middle Eastern — can help people see understanding where they initially saw department.
“This is certainly something that Tomi Lahren and I have got in common. Something that Dan Scavino and am have in common, ” Mendelsohn states. “To me, it is just such a basic and beautiful piece of being United states. ”
CNN has reached out to King, Scavino and Lahren for comment yet hasn’t heard back.