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Who Are the Targets of Trump’s Deportation Army If He Gets Reelected?

May 27, 2024 (4 min read)

Cyrus D. Mehta, May 27, 2024

"If Trump gets reelected, he has hinted that his administration will create a deportation force that would deport 15 million undocumented immigrants. Radley Balko’s  newsletter on Substack,  Trump’s Deportation Army,  provides chilling details on how this deportation would be executed, which would be an unmitigated disaster for families, the US economy and the standing of the United States.

“The Trump immigration plan would be the second largest forced displacement of human beings in human history, on par with Britain’s disastrous partition of India, and second only to total forced displacement during World War II, ” Balko states.

According to New York Times’s columnist Jamelle Bouie in  Trump’s Taste for Tyranny Finds a Target immigrants would be the most easy target for Trump to play out his autocratic fantasies. Trump has already said that undocumented immigrants are “poisoning the blood of this country.” The Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii allowed Trump to enforce his Muslim ban.

Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies,  has stated on Charlie Kirk’s show how this deportation force would fulfill Trump’s fantasy. The  deportation force would comprise agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Border Patrol and other federal agencies, as well as the National Guard and local law enforcement officials. They would look all over the  country for unauthorized and undocumented immigrants moving from state to state, city to city, neighborhood to neighborhood and, finally, house to house. These are people who in the view of Trump and Miller do not belong, not that because are not authorized but because they are also nonwhite and who are from what Trump once called “shithole” countries. By raiding workplaces and staging public roundups, this deportation force would create a climate of fear and intimidation.

Mistakes are bound to happen as legal immigrants and even US citizens may get caught up in the roundups. There could not be any notion of selective enforcement in these roundups, and those caught up in them would be because they appeared to be immigrants. There would be mass racial and ethnic profiling. And by the time this gets sorted out it may be too late if the person already got deported.

Moreover, one thinks of an undocumented immigrants as a person who entered the United States without inspection or who came to the US legally on a visa and overstayed. However, the term is broader to encompass persons who were previously unauthorized and who have been authorized to stay such as recipients of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, applicants for Temporary Protected Status (TPS),  those who have pending asylum applications and applications for other relief such as under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or crime victim U visas. There are also those who are on supervised release or who have obtained stays of removal and eligible for employment authorization year after year. All these noncitizens would be lumped together as undocumented immigrants that would be red meat for Trump’s deportation force.

Since it would be beyond the capacity to quickly deport the people caught up in these roundups, especially since countries may not even be willing to accept them easily, there would be holding facilities that would serve as staging centers on land near the Texas border. This would not be too dissimilar from internment camps, which were set up in the United States to detain Japanese Americans after the attack by the Japanese military on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

In addition to the round ups, the second Trump administration would sign an executive order to withhold passports, social security numbers and other government benefits from  children born of undocumented immigrants in the United States never mind that the Fourteenth Amendment says the exact opposite. Under Trump’s deportation plan, there would be no distinction between undocumented immigrants and children born to an undocumented immigrant in the United States. If there are going to be protests and resistance from people against agents storming homes, schools and religious places, Trump will invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize the miliary and crush the resisters as well as his political opponents.

According to Bouie, “what we are seeing here from Trump isn’t simply a distaste for liberal values; it is a taste for genuine tyranny and bona fide despotism, one that complements his endless praise for dictators and strongmen.” Trump has already likened immigrants to invaders, and he can invoke an emergency, and thus a constitutional crisis,  to go ahead with deportations without waiting for the courts to rule, and  when they do rule, Trump’s hope is that the courts will rule in his favor, especially the Supreme Court, which have historically given deference to the executive branch on matters involving national security. This has happened time and time again with respect to court challenges to the internment of Japanese Americans, against the unlawful detention and abuses of noncitizens after the September 11 attacks and most recently in allowing Trump’s travel ban to pass, which was a major part of his election campaign in 2016 to ban Muslims from coming to the US, and in this reelection campaign for 2024, Trump promises to create a tyrannical force to deport millions of immigrants.

On this Memorial Day, as we reflect upon the sacrifices our military personnel have made to free America and the world from fascism and tyranny, think about how Trump can so easily unravel all of this through a deportation force that rips families apart, tears lives and fractures America."