Trump Criminalizes Millions of Immigrants and Threatens “Sanctuary Cities”

January 30, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

 

On January 25 Donald Trump signed executive orders that pave the way for a major escalation in persecution and terror aimed at immigrants. Trump’s order gives the government many new tools of repression. It provides for 10,000 more immigration agents; it “ensures” that people caught in La Migra’s snare will be deported “promptly”; it establishes a special office to provide “services” for families of people whose relatives were “victimized” by “criminal aliens”.

First they came for the Muslims...
JFK Airport, January 28. (Photo: Twitter/NYCLU)

But within this monstrosity of an order two features stand out. It criminalizes millions of people by expanding the categories of people targeted for deportation. And it mandates that any “jurisdiction” (city or county) that doesn’t comply with federal law regarding immigrants will not be “eligible to receive Federal grants ...”.

Trump is not just targeting people with criminal convictions. Also in his sights are people who “have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved” (emphasis added), and people who “In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security”, and people engaged in “fraud or willful misrepresentation ...”.

In other words, anyone who has committed the “crime” of being an immigrant working at some crap job in this country. Anyone picked up while they’re waiting for a bus or coming out of a subway station speaking Spanish. Anyone who some racist cop thinks looks “suspicious”, or maybe just “looks Latino”, and gets hauled to jail. Anyone languishing in a county jail month after month, never charged with anything. Anyone who overstayed a student visa, or made a minor mistake on a visa application.

You cannot wait and see with fascists

Trump also wants to expedite the deportation process. His order allows for deporting arrested immigrants before criminal proceedings against them have been completed, simply because the government declares them to be “illegal aliens”.

There are about 340 sanctuary jurisdictions in this country. “Sanctuary jurisdictions” don’t really provide protection from immigration authorities. Many, many people have been seized and unjustly deported from “sanctuary cities”.

When police or county sheriffs arrest anyone in this country, their fingerprints are sent to the FBI. U.S. law requires that the FBI send this information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). If ICE finds that the prisoner is undocumented, it submits a detainer request to the county jail. ICE usually asks jails to hold inmates an extra 48 hours after they would otherwise be released so it can get a warrant that begins deportation proceedings. “Sanctuary jurisdictions” deny these requests if there is no warrant out on the person, which actually is in keeping with Department of Homeland Security policy, since holding people without a warrant violates the Fourth Amendment. It also provides not even a semblance of “due process”, another supposed Constitutional right written into the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Many politicians and many police officials oppose Trump’s policy changes and support the existence of “sanctuary jurisdictions”. These cops are not acting out of compassion for immigrants. In response to Trump’s order, a statement made jointly by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors said “Local police departments work hard to build and preserve trust with all of the communities they serve, including immigrant communities ... Immigrants residing in our cities must be able to trust the police and all of the city government.’’ In other words, they think Trump’s order will make it more difficult for the police and other authorities to monitor and control immigrant communities. They think it will drive many immigrants deeper “into the shadows”, and away from the repressive institutions of this society.

Officials across the country have announced their intention to refuse cooperation with Trump’s order even if it means losing grant money. Forces aligned with Trump are threatening these officials. In Texas, governor Greg Abbot, a Christian fundamentalist and enthusiastic Trump supporter, announced an outrageous proposal to “remove from office any office holder who promotes sanctuary cities”. How this clash will play out is undetermined.

But what is clear is that major attacks upon immigrants and those who support them are intensifying, as part of Trump’s overall fascist program. They must be vigorously, creatively, and relentlessly opposed.

 

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