The Republicans in power have declared war on all immigrants. In a series of Executive Orders and implementing memoranda so comprehensive that would take this President days to read let alone, comprehend, the Republicans have gone all-in on anti-immigrant fear-mongering. Gone are compassion for children, the reunification of families and the respect for due process. Each of these American values is a collateral price to pay to cleanse the country of “illegals.”
Adding 15,000 more agents to what is already that largest federal law enforcement apparatus in the country is just the start. The Republicans will somehow find the billions of dollars that would cost and amplify it by enlisting local officers to join in a police state that will make Latinos, Asians and Africans disappear just on suspicion of probable cause without ever seeing a judge.
Tarnishing the symbolism of the Statue of Liberty for refugees from Muslim countries pales in comparison to what these Republicans plan to do for all arrivals to our borders who have fled violence and persecution. We are talking about 11 million lives at risk of deportation because under this framework removing each of them is a priority – not just the worst criminals among them.
The hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform – a mainstay of advice to this Republican effort – articulated the cleansing aspect best when its president Dan Stein said “If we enforce these laws, we can reclaim our schools, our hospitals, and our communities once again for the American people.” Given its long standing support for eugenics and racial superiority go ahead and insert “white” in front of American in that expression of solidarity.
These inhumane, draconian, inflexible policies will:
n Expedite removals for any person with less than two years residency in the U.S – and not just at the border. Expedition here means as little as 24 hours from detention to deportation often to a violent setting, with no time to see a lawyer or a judge. This specter rivals the “disappearance” of dissidents in despotic regimes.
n Authorize all immigration personnel to begin deportation proceedings against any “alien” for whom they have probable cause to believe violated immigration laws. Add to that the resuscitation of prior local law enforcement cooperation agreements, e.g., 287(g), that were discontinued precisely because they embolden local police to further engage in racial profiling and you create a police state of enormous, unbridled authority. Driving, eating, or walking while brown will potentially deport you. Broken windows policing that ensnares you with an unnecessary arrest, will definitely deport you.
n Erase due process protections by authorizing the removal of “aliens” charged with a crime even without a conviction and even those who commit acts that could constitute a criminal offense. ICE agents have just been promoted to be judges and juries too.
n Eviscerate any meaningful chance to seek asylum – all contrary to international law. Indeed, the new policies seek to deport even non-Mexicans to Mexico by forcing the return of removable persons to contiguous countries. How these persons will be detained in Mexico or Canada is never explained.
n By outlawing all prior memoranda in categorical terms it is unclear what survives this radical overhaul. The Association of Immigration Law Attorneys (AILA) concludes that immigration enforcement at sensitive areas like schools or churches or against protected victims or witnesses to crime or even caregivers of children, persons with serious mental disabilities, or pregnant mothers is now all fair game. Compassion and humane treatment of the most vulnerable amongst us are history in this Republican administration’s intolerant vision of America.
n Commit billions of dollars to this cleansing operation. Well beyond the absurdity of spending billions on the wall, the memoranda require DHS to detain virtually everyone corralled and expand the entire system exponentially – all to the delight of the private prison industry and their shareholders. DHS simply does not have the money and will look to the Republican controlled Congress to appropriate it. The 34,000 daily bed quota is already exceeded at around forty to fifty thousand beds daily and that costs $2 billion per year. The necessary expansion of punitive detention will likely result in a daily bed count of 200,000 according to AILA.
n Exempt DACA – the deferred prosecution program for early childhood arrivals – for now. A welcome sigh of relief for nearly one million persons but not without a price. The removal of privacy protections of personal identifying information – established in the Bush administration – was accomplished with nary a word about its applicability to the sensitive information provided by DACA applicants.
Get ready in a few years’ time for an American landscape with virtually no one to pick crops, chop livestock, construct homes at minimum wage, landscape, nanny or work the kitchens of our finest restaurants. Get ready for lonely and separated U.S. citizen children. And also get ready for the loss of social security and sales taxes that these communities pay along with the wealth generated by the small businesses they operate on a daily basis.
Our colleagues at the Willie Velazquez Institute said it best – this cleansing is a deliberate product of a comprehensive regime, not the chaos that creates a veneer of incompetence at the beginning of this administration.
Let’s take that further: if the Republicans with all their current power embrace and pay for this atrocious reversal of American values then it’s no longer on the occupant with the insatiable Twitter addiction. It’s on them.