President Trump Is Beginning to Build the Apparatus of Human Misery He Promised During the Campaign

Two memos signed by Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Monday are a grim blueprint for President Trump's promised mass deportations. As implementation instructions for his January executive orders on interior and border immigration enforcement, they’re an operating manual for unprecedentedly vicious ICE and CBP crackdowns. 

Heartless and cruel, the memos promise changes that will shred due process and propose to expand an already enormous federal deportation force by 15,000 new agents.  Fortunately, Congress has budget control that can stop some of Trump’s terrible personnel and policy choices, including his border wall. And as with Trump’s Muslim ban, the ACLU will fight to block these memos’ unconstitutional efforts to detain and deport millions of human beings.

We think the last administration got a lot wrong about immigration enforcement — it’s ludicrous to say that President Obama’s record deportation numbers were some kind of mirage — but the Trump administration wants to compound the cruelty. In fact, the Trump-Kelly memos aim to destroy three existing pillars of compassionate, constitutional immigration enforcement:

1) Discard Humane Discretion

The memos abandon any genuine attempt to prioritize immigration enforcement. Virtually every  immigrant eligible for deportation — including almost all of the 11 million people in the United States without authorization — is now a target for detention and aggressive removal proceedings.It doesn’t matter whether that immigrant has lived in the United States for a day or a decade. It doesn’t matter whether she has a serious criminal record or not. And it doesn’t matter whether strong equities exist like community contributions; extensive family ties, including U.S. citizen children; U.S. military service; or exceptional educational achievements and potential. Last week’s powerful Day Without Immigrants gave a sense of the devastating economic, humanitarian, and practical effects of banishing our neighbors, classmates, co-parishioners, relatives, and friends.

2) Dismantle Due Process

The Trump-Kelly memos try to eviscerate immigrants’ rights to full and fair hearings to determine whether the government’s attempts to remove them are supported by the facts and the law. Trump and Kelly threaten a massive expansion of shortcuts to deportation like expedited removal, which allows an ICE or CBP official, rather than an impartial judge, to have the only say on an immigrant’s future. Every immigrant deserves a real day in court and access to legal counsel to make their case, both of which are imperiled by the memos’ medieval prescription of detention for all, regardless of a particular immigrant’s flight risk or public safety threat.

Mandatory imprisonment of immigrants who don't need to be jailed, like asylum-seekers, primary caregivers, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions makes no fiscal or moral sense and is fundamentally contrary to due process. All mass detention accomplishes, besides needlessly tearing families apart and sending many kids to foster care, is a lucrative bonanza for substandard private-prison contractors.

3) Demolish the Protective Wall Between Immigration Enforcement and Police

The Trump-Kelly memos encourage state and local police, including those with records of racial profiling and brutality, to become immigration agents. They are a return to failed programs ended by the Obama administration that intertwined local police and immigration enforcement, which is a federal responsibility. The ACLU and allies won important legal victories against state “show me your papers” legislation like Arizona’s SB1070, and the federal government terminated involvement of biased police agencies like Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s in immigration enforcement. 

Yet the Trump-Kelly memos want to make every cop an immigration agent, ignoring the Department of Justice and federal courts’ devastating findings that Sheriff Joe and others acted unconstitutionally in racially profiling and otherwise abusing the very public they’re sworn to protect. The memos resurrect illegal and unwise programs like Secure Communities, which courts have held flouts the Fourth Amendment by detaining individuals without a judge’s probable cause determination, and 287(g), which deputizes state and local police as immigration agents. These programs only hurt public safety by making immigrants and their families scared to report crimes, like domestic violence, that they suffer or witness.

The Trump administration has sent another gust of fear throughout the land with a mass deportation agenda that is badly out of step with fairness, due process, and liberty. Its attacks on civil liberties and civil rights affect not only immigrants but all who will suffer abuses at the hands of a vast immigration-enforcement complex the memos aspire to create. It will be defeated in courts and communities from sea to sea.

Add a comment (54)
Read the Terms of Use

susan

peaceful nation-wide walkouts bring America to a crawl and demand republicans impeach now and fire everyone 45 hired.

hyp3rcrav3

May Day General Strike making more and more sense.

Anonymous

I'm an immigrant, I came to this country LEGALLY - I learned English, went to school. I completed the process and became a US citizen. I spent time and money doing the right thing. So, why reward people who come into this country ILLEGALLY? I like many others completed the process the right way legally. don't award bad behavior, when there are millions of us that did the right thing.

If the ACLU wants to make changes then get congress to change the LAWS but don't cry when trump enforces those laws that congress created. if you don't like the laws then change them, but the current laws should and must be enforced!!!

Anonymous

This isn't about rewarding people for coming into the country illegally.

Think about children who were born here to undocumented parents.
Think about people who were stuck here working on farms when we increased border security, and found it was easier to just settle down than get in trouble with the law.
In the past, ICE focused on people committing crimes here, or people who had come over the border recently.
One point of having an executive branch to enforce congressional law --as opposed to a national Chief of Police-- is to allow discretion.

"The law is a blunt instrument, while justice requires a scalpel."

Chris

#1- If someone who marks them self as an anonymous commentor states something about their own experiences, It is probably false. Either you are lying, misguided or you are literally hiding behind the anonymity of the internet for no valid reason.

#2- Even if I did believe you are who you say you are(which I don't), because you did it the long, pricey and difficult way others have to go through that as well? "I had it bad the whole way coming into this country, You need to as well!" what kind of psychotic thinking is that?

#3- America was a nation that was founded on illegal immigrants. if you stand for illegal immigration then you should of told George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Samuel Adams, Paul Revere and Thomas Jefferson. These men were our founding fathers and by Native code they were all considered trespassers alongside the British.

Anonymous

May I ask, just how did you come in legally and where did you immigrate from

Anonymous

You should be ashamed about your lack of respect for these immigrants who have not had the opportunity to legalize their status. I'm also an immigrant and naturalized citizen. Like you I went to college and earned a degree. Throughout thirthy years I've seen how many people from European, Asian and South American countries have been granted residence. However, there has not been a legal path for many of the undocumented migrants workers. If anything we have the moral obligation to support them, so one day they will also have the opportunity to become legal.

Eve

You are surely blessed in the opportunities you had.

However, the vast majority of "illegal" immigrants were not nearly as fortunate as you.

CJ

"I'm an immigrant, I came to this country LEGALLY - I learned English, went to school"

... and could easily be targeted anyway, don't fool yourself. Dreamers with supposedly legal citizen status have already found their doors kicked in during the first month.

This is not about rational enforcement of the law. It's about ethnic cleansing. If you imagine you're going to be spared while "bad" immigrants are targeted you are, quite apart from being appallingly ungracious and indifferent to your fellow man, being played.

Anonymous

I suspect you "pass".

Pages

Sign Up for Breaking News