If Americans choose to reelect Donald Trump next year, they will be voting for what can fairly be described as a police state, the likes of which has seldom been contemplated in this country, and of a scale probably unimaginable to anyone who currently lives here. It will be a place quite literally redolent of Germany in the 1930s, in which millions of people considered “undesirable” are routinely rounded up and placed in camps by a government weaponized to serve a racist, authoritarian regime.
As hard as it may be to process, this is not some hyperbolic fantasy. It is an existing, actual plan that has been carefully and meticulously crafted by Trump with the help of his white supremacist former aide, Stephen Miller. Its implementation would begin on day one of Trump’s second term, which would begin in January 2025.
The ensuing social and economic upheaval would be staggering and unprecedented, as the country that we know will have effectively ceased to exist.
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As reported by Charlie Savage, Maggie Haberman, and Jonathan Swan, writing for The New York Times:
Former President Donald J. Trump is planning an extreme expansion of his first-term crackdown on immigration if he returns to power in 2025 — including preparing to round up undocumented people already in the United States on a vast scale and detain them in sprawling camps while they wait to be expelled.
According to the report, Trump’s plan not only envisions the mass internment and expulsion of undocumented immigrants, but also proposes again barring the entry of Muslims from select nations, revoking the visas of foreign students if they participated in any anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian demonstrations, and ending temporary status granted to immigrants for humanitarian reasons. The Times authors report that it will be implemented with the assistance of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and state National Guard troops, as well as possibly enlisting the help of local police volunteered by Republican-dominated states such as Texas and Florida.
As The Times story notes:
U.S. consular officials abroad will be directed to expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people the Trump administration considers to have undesirable attitudes. People who were granted temporary protected status because they are from certain countries deemed unsafe, allowing them to lawfully live and work in the United States, would have that status revoked.
The Times writers interviewed several people who will be leading and directing this effort if Trump is re-elected. The most prominent of those interviewed is Miller, who was responsible for nearly all of Trump’s immigration priorities during his first term in office, including the prior Muslim ban and the policy of child kidnapping euphemistically described as “family separation.” As the article notes, Miller is expected to return to that role in a second Trump administration. One of his priorities, as he explained to the Times, will be to end the birthright citizenship currently authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
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Per The Times, Trump and his aides readily acknowledge the legal and constitutional obstacles to their plans, but intend to proceed regardless, believing that the legal environment has shifted in their favor—thanks to Trump’s seeding of the Supreme Court’s right-wing majority and his copious conservative judicial appointments. Their intent is to create a “blitz” of measures against undocumented and legal immigrants that will overwhelm the legal system, effectively steamrolling anticipated challenges and objections by immigration attorneys.
But there’s more.
While a law known as the Posse Comitatus Act generally forbids the use of the armed forces for law enforcement purposes, another law called the Insurrection Act creates an exception. Mr. Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act at the border, enabling the use of federal troops to apprehend migrants, Mr. Miller said.
Camps to house millions of immigrants prior to their deportation will be constructed, according to Miller, “on open land in Texas near the border.” Funding for such camps and deportation measures will be diverted from existing military appropriations, the authors note, to “get around” Congressional objections. According to Miller, Trump would also weaponize the Centers for Disease Control to declare the arrival of immigrants at the southern border a “public health emergency,” citing the flu, tuberculosis, and other “threats” posed by allegedly disease-carrying immigrants. Deportation would be “fast-tracked” and due process virtually eliminated.
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The Times article makes no mention of penalizing those many businesses that typically employ undocumented immigrants, such as the agriculture, hospitality, or construction industries. Miller, however, blithely discounts the economic calamity certain to ensue from these draconian measures.
“Mass deportation will be a labor-market disruption celebrated by American workers, who will now be offered higher wages with better benefits to fill these jobs,” he said. “Americans will also celebrate the fact that our nation’s laws are now being applied equally, and that one select group is no longer magically exempt.”
The Times authors do not provide any data reflecting how Americans might actually be expected to react to this planned transformation of the nation, nor do they acknowledge the likelihood that such radical policies could swiftly be refashioned to target American citizens. Perhaps they were too flabbergasted to make that connection.
Trump and his minions, however, who exist primarily within a belief system propagated within the right-wing universe, clearly believe public opinion will support these measures, and they promise to figure strongly in his 2024 reelection campaign. What remains to be seen is whether American voters will be sufficiently horrified or repelled by these plans enough to deny Trump the opportunity to impose them.