During the presidential primaries, Donald Trump distinguished himself from his competitors when he took the position that he’d deport ’em all when it came to undocumented immigrants. Later he mitigated that by suggesting that he’d focus on deporting dangerous criminals.
At this point, all the evidence suggests that he meant what he said initially. With two of his first executive orders, he opened up the possibility of deporting approximately 8 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants. As Brian Bennett reported:
Far from targeting only “bad hombres,” as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches…
Deportations of this scale, which has not been publicly totaled before, could have widely felt consequences: Families would be separated. Businesses catering to immigrant customers may be shuttered. Crops could be left to rot, unpicked, as agricultural and other industries that rely on immigrant workforces face labor shortages. U.S. relations could be strained with countries that stand to receive an influx of deported people, particularly in Latin America. Even the Social Security system, which many immigrants working illegally pay into under fake identification numbers, would take a hit…
The changes, some of which have already begun with more expected in the coming months, set the stage for sweeping deportations last seen in the final years of the George W. Bush administration. Factories and meatpacking plants were raided after talks with Congress over comprehensive immigration reform broke down in 2007.
In case anyone has forgotten what he’s referring to during the final years of the Bush administration, he’s talking about the kinds of ICE raids that were carried out in the factories of towns like Postville, Iowa and Laurel, Mississippi. I remember watching in horror as those raids not only tore families apart, they decimated the small towns in which they took place. But perhaps even more horrifying if you happen to have brown skin or care about someone who does are the reports of what went on inside those factories. Workers were segregated by race or ethnicity and interrogated. In other words, if ICE officers thought you were white, you were allowed to go. Brown skin meant detainment and interrogation to prove your legal status.
According to more recent reports, a blueprint has been put together for Trump’s immigration crackdown.
On Monday, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued memos to senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that provide instructions for implementing two executive orders President Trump signed January 25, regarding immigration enforcement on the US/Mexico border and within the United States…
Under President Trump, the massive immigration enforcement “machine” of the US will now have nearly free rein to arrest, detain, and deport unauthorized immigrants wherever it finds them.
In addition to deputizing local law enforcement to arrest undocumented immigrants, the challenge is to figure out what to do with them. They’ve come up with two solutions. First of all, there is this deplorable plan:
It can take years after an immigrant is apprehended for that immigrant to get deported, because immigration courts are massively backlogged. The executive order signed by President Trump lays out a possible solution: sending people back “to the territory from which they came” while their cases are still pending in immigration court.
Basically, it’s a “deport first and ask questions later” strategy.
Secondly, the Trump administration is planning to detain a lot more people.
But given that America’s detention system for immigrants has been running at full capacity for some time now, where is the president going to put all of these people before deporting them?
In new jails, for starters. In the same executive order that called for the construction of a southern border wall, Trump instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to build out its sprawling network of immigration detention centers. Starting “immediately,” his order said, ICE should construct new facilities, lease space for immigrants alongside inmates in existing local jails, and sign new contracts—likely with private prison companies.
The initial targeting of people like DREAMers, victims of domestic violence and those who are cooperating with law enforcement sent a chilling message that is designed to quiet undocumented immigrants who might otherwise fight back against these efforts. That is why they will depend on those of us who are legal citizens to raise our voices in resistance before it’s too late.