The shocking reality of Donald Trump’s plan to deport millions

Posted on MSNBC.com by David Leopold

DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

DALLAS, TX – SEPTEMBER 14: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center on September 14, 2015 in Dallas, Texas. More than 20,000 tickets have been distributed for the event. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty

It’s not clear what was the most shocking about Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in Dallas, Texas: his description of undocumented immigrants as part of a “dumping ground for the rest of the world,” or the reaction of the nearly all-white crowd who awarded his rhetoric with a standing ovation and chants of “USA, USA.”

One day – hopefully soon – when the presidential candidacy of Donald Trumpreaches its ignoble end, perhaps we’ll better understand how a real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star turned-politician could become the front-runner in the Republican primary. But for now, we must take Trump at his word: If elected president, he plans to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants – including their U.S. citizen children. What’s more, Trump claims he’ll do it all within 18 months to two years. It is, according to Trump, just a question of “good management.”

It is surprising, then, that as we head into the second Republican debate Wednesday night at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, that Trump’s brazen call for mass expulsion of all undocumented immigrants has largely escaped scrutiny in the media, either because he isn’t taken seriously or journalists are afraid of offending him and losing access. But now that the “summer of Trump” has turned into fall, it’s high time that someone call on Trump to explain what he means when he declares that undocumented immigrants “have to go.”

We’re left asking this question in 2015: How would Trump actually deport 11 million people in less than two years?

The leading GOP candidate is talking about ferreting out, arresting, and forcibly removing a population of men, women and children roughly the size of the state of Ohio. Setting aside the Constitution for the moment – something most of Trump’s immigration platform ignores – let’s imagine what a grand scale deportation would mean in real terms. It’s frightening, extreme – and decidedly un-American.

First there would be the rooting out of undocumented men, women and children throughout the entire United States. Department of Homeland Security enforcement agents would have to fan out all over the country looking for undocumented immigrants. Since many work in agriculture, we’d likely see agents combing through rural areas and small town America – places like Painesville and Findlay, Ohio.

We got a glimpse of what that would look like in 2008, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the Agriprocessors kosher meat packing facility in Postville, Iowa. Hundreds of armed ICE agents swooped into the town – population 2,000 – with helicopters and prison buses to arrest nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, most of whom were Guatemalan laborers. ICE then locked up the immigrants at the National Cattle Congress – which had been turned into a makeshift immigration prison – in nearby Waterloo, where they awaited criminal trials and deportation.

But Postville was just one small town in Iowa. Trump’s mass deportation plan would recreate that disturbing scene in every American community in all 50 states – every county, town and city. As Malcom Harris recently observed, “Sending an amped-up ICE on a mass-deportation mission wouldn’t just be an assault on undocumented people and their families, it would be an attack on American cities, where more than 90 percent of them live.”

Trump’s deportation dragnet would likely start by wreaking havoc on the lives of millions of U.S. citizens. To find undocumented immigrants, immigration enforcement agents would have to whittle down who they question about their immigration status, and that would include interrogating U.S. citizens. Further, because so many undocumented immigrants are part of mixed immigration status families, Americans would be put in the untenable position of having to decide whether to stay in their country, separated from their loved ones facing deportation, or leave the U.S.

In Trump’s America, where the newly inaugurated president would seek to make good on his campaign promise to deport 11 million people within 2 years, what would happen to core American values including family, hard work, community and fairness?

Would our citizens be coerced into becoming immigration informants? Would Americans rat on their neighbors, friends or relatives out of a misguided feeling of patriotism or, perhaps worse, vengeance and retribution? Would undocumented women, children and elderly be exposed to abuse by those who would take advantage of Trump’s deportation machinery to extract control, money or other unspeakable forms of abuse under threat of being exposed to homeland security agents?

Would non-white American citizens and lawful residents be at greater risk of stop, arrest and investigation based on their manner of dress, accent or skin color? And what about unscrupulous employers? One of the strongest arguments in favor of comprehensive immigration reform is that a pathway to earned legal immigration status will reduce workplace exploitation, including sweatshop wages and sexual abuse. One can only imagine the horrible price a corrupt employer might extract from an undocumented immigrant who is desperate to avoid deportation and separation from her family.

Even if Trump were elected president, he would not be able to fulfill many of his draconian promises on immigration – including mass deportation of all undocumented immigrants. Trump’s ugly agenda assumes there is no Constitution, no separation of powers, and no checks and balances which would prevent him from carrying out mass expulsion of undocumented immigrants. Nevertheless, the media has a professional and ethical obligation to the American people to press Trump for specifics on how he would implement his stated immigration agenda, so that voters know exactly what they’d be signing up for if they accept Trump’s offer to “make America great again.”

Tomorrow night in Simi Valley would be a good time to start.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

A Lawyer Debunks 2016 GOPers’ Most Extreme #Immigration Ideas

But rather than call out Trump for his xenophobic, nativist and racist demagoguery, the other GOP White House contenders have instead settled into a shameful pattern of trying to out-Trump Trump. Instead of developing serious immigration policy solutions—something the vast majority of Americans favor—Trump’s Republican presidential rivals have lurched to the extreme right offering absurd and irresponsible ideas in an effort to outmaneuver the GOP frontrunner.

The newest ridiculous proposal came over the weekend from Chris Christie speaking at a New Hampshire Town Hall event. Christie suggested tracking noncitizen visitors like courier packages. According to the New Jersey governor it’s all quite simple, “You go online and at any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is…Yet we let people come into this country with visas, and the minute they come in, we lose track of them.” Christie didn’t elaborate with details, so it’s not clear whether he intends to put barcodes on tourists’ backs, chips in the necks of business visitors or GPS trackers on the foreheads green card holders. I guess we’ll have to wait for his written policy proposal.

Beyond being a really dumb idea, Christie’s FedEx immigrant tracking system shows that the former federal prosecutor is also profoundly ignorant of U.S. law and policy. The Department of Homeland Security already collects biometric data—including digital images and fingerprints—from nearly every noncitizen entering the U.S. at air and sea ports. The tracking is even more intensive for other visitors including students and exchange visitors. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, for example, tracks and monitors foreign students after they arrive and throughout their studies in the U.S. Those who fail to show up for school are routinely arrested and detained by ICE agents who are alerted by the tracking system. The bottom line is that while it remains a work in progress, our visitor tracking has already advanced significantly since 9/11. Christie’s plan goes beyond common sense and treats people like inanimate objects.

The other problem for Christie is that tracking a person’s every move probably violates the Constitution. Earlier this year, in Torrey Dale Grady vs. North Carolina, the Supreme Court made clear that if the government puts a GPS tracker on someone—whether they’re a citizen or not—it constitutes a search protected by the 4th Amendment.

But don’t tell that to Donald Trump, Chris Christie or the other GOP presidential candidates. They’ve already proposed to eviscerate the 14th Amendment, the cornerstone of American civil rights that ensures due process and equal protection to all persons. The Republican politicians might be tempted to propose shredding the entire Constitution which, it seems, gets in the way of some of their most repugnant ideas.

Not to be outdone by Christie’s FedEx immigrant tracking system, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker—who used to be a pro-immigrant conservative before he became an anti-immigrant nativist—has made the ludicrous claim that building a border wall between the U.S. and Canadais a “legitimate” idea. He also made the unsubstantiated assertion that “Islamic extremists” are flooding the U.S. Mexico border.

Putting aside for the moment that for most of the year much of the 5,525 mile U.S. Canadian border is a frozen mass of snow and ice, there is little evidence that hordes of Canadians (or anyone else) are illegally sneaking over the border. But even if there was, why stop at building the wall at the northern border? If it’s true that about 40 percent of the undocumented immigrant population arrived in the U.S. legally on visas but overstayed, as Chris Christie claimed in New Hampshire over the weekend, then many of the undocumented immigrants probably arrived on airplanes. So why not build walls around our airports too? It might put a crimp in the take-off and landing part of U.S. and international aviation, but it’s sure to keep out illegal immigrants—along with business people, investors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and anyone else who adds to the fabric of our nation.

It would be unfair to leave out Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who was on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday insisting that “immigrants come here legally, learn English, adopt our values, roll up our sleeves and get to work.” When asked what he meant by “adopt our values” Jindal pointed to the example of immigrants in Europe who do not integrate into the cultures of their adopted countries. Jindal—who is a U.S. citizen because of birthright citizenship but now opposes birthright citizenship—didn’t mention that unlike the U.S. many of those countries do not have birthright citizenship and, therefore, many immigrants to Europe are not able to fully integrate into the cultures of their adopted countries.

Jindal also failed to point that American law already requires that immigrants learn to speak, read and write English to become citizens. Aspiring Americans are also tested on their knowledge of U.S. history and government. Maybe politicians like Jindal should also be required to take the citizenship test before they can run for president. The first question is “What is the supreme law of the land? The answer is “the Constitution.” The test might prove to be a more efficient way to narrow the field of presidential contenders.

Nothing that’s been proposed by Trump or those who try and mimic him will do anything to build a safe, orderly and fair immigration system. Whether it’s building a wall, mass deportation, eviscerating birthright citizenship, attacking DREAMers or tracking people like packages, none of the anti-immigrant proposals put out by Trump or the other GOP candidates will solve the problem of 11 million undocumented people living in the U.S., working hard, paying taxes and raising children. Nor will anything Trump or his GOP rivals have proposed fix the broken visa system so that it meets the needs of American business, creates American jobs, and keeps America globally competitive.

At some point Trump may have to answer for his hateful rhetoric and preposterous immigration policy proposals. But unless someone in the GOP finds the guts to forcefully stand up to his demagoguery rather than follow his lead, the Republican Party risks being branded the Party of Trump for years to come.

David Leopold practices immigration law in Cleveland. He is past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

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