As a historian and teacher, and as a Jew, I don’t throw around accusations of Nazi and Fascist lightly, but Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy proposals have crossed the line. He has embraced Nazi racist ideology and proposed the Nazi-like treatment of undocumented immigrants and refugees. If Trump regains the Presidency and his proposals are implemented, the United States will be the United States in name only. Trump voters will be choosing a candidate who espouses positions Americans fought against in World War II.
Adolf Hitler's racist and antisemitic ideology was rooted in "the basic principle of the blood." Hitler claimed the blood of every race contained the soul or spirit of the race. The highest crime was diluting the blood of the German people by intermingling it with the blood of other races, especially in Hitler’s warped ideology, with Jews.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote “All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning . . . Blood mixture and the resultant drop in racial level is the sole cause of the dying out of old cultures . . . It was and it is Jews who bring the Negroes into the Rhineland, always with the same secret thought and clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily resulting bastardization, throwing it down from its cultural and political height, and himself rising to be its master. For a racially pure people which is conscious of its blood can never be enslaved by the Jew. In this world he will forever be master over bastards and bastards alone. And so he tries systematically to lower the racial level by a continuous poisoning of individuals.”
Former President Trump paraphrased Hitler in a recent interview with National Pulse when he claimed that undocumented immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country.” This is the same language used by white supremacists in this country today and echoes 19th and 20th century Ku Klux Klan pronouncements and Jim Crow legislation. The Anti-Defamation League condemned Trump’s remarks as “racist, xenophobic and despicable.”
In 1935, Hitler and the Nazi controlled German Reichstag, stripped away citizenship from German Jews. According to the Reich Citizenship Law, only people of “German or kindred blood” could be citizens of Germany. Under the law, German Jews were no longer citizens but “subjects" of the state.
Trump would follow a similar path to cancel the citizenship of native-born citizens of the United States, citizens under the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, if their parents were undocumented. While this is illegal, Trump plans to order federal agencies to stop issuing them citizenship documents like Social Security cards and passports. The policy would eventually go to the Supreme Court, a court that Trump packed with three rightwing justices during his earlier presidency.
The first German concentration camp was established as soon as Hitler came to power in 1933. Political opponents were sent to these camps for “protective custody” while Hitler and the Nazi Party consolidated control over Germany. The camps, based on an extra-legal jurisdiction authorized by Hitler stood outside the laws of the German state and people detained in the camps had no legal recourse. With the start of World War II, the camps were used as prisons and forced labor camps for Jews and war captives and after 1942 as extermination camps for Jews. The United States also has a history of concentration camps, but not death camps, for Native Americans who were placed on “reservations” in the 19th century and Japanese Americans during World War II.
Trump wants to build huge concentration camps to warehouse undocumented immigrants while they await deportation. Because Congress may be unwilling to authorize funds, Trump plans to reallocate money in the military budget. He did the same thing in his first term when he took money intended for the military to build his wall with Mexico.
Trump is proposing a series of extra-legal actions that also mirror Nazi anti-Jewish policies. To help Immigration and Customs Enforcement carry out sweeping raids, trap undocumented immigrants, and deport millions of people, including people who have lived in the United States for decades and have American born children, Trump would reassign federal agents, deputize local police officers, and use National Guard soldiers from Republican-run states. Trump could also invoke the Insurrection Act arguing that the United States is being invaded. This would permit Trump to use federal troop to apprehend migrants.
Trump also wants to ban entry into the United States by people from selected Muslim-majority countries and refuse asylum applications claiming that refugees would bring infectious diseases into the country. Under Trump, U.S. consular offices would expand ideological screening of visa applicants to block people with “undesirable attitudes,” people who were previouslygranted temporary protected status for humanitarian reasons allowing them to lawfully live and work in the United States would have that status revoked; and college students from other countries would have their visas canceled if they protested against Trumpian policies. Counting on support from Trump appointed federal judges, Trump would again move to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Obama-era program that shields people who were brought unlawfully to the United States as children from deportation and grants them work permits. To frighten and deter migrant families, Trump plans to separate children from their parents at the border. In an all-out assault on democracy, all these actions would be taken without turning to Congress for new laws or authorizations.
One way around Congressional and judicial over-site would be for Trump to declare that the United States is at war with criminal cartels and drug gangs. In theory this would permit a Trump administration to expand a fast-track deportations without due process. “Expedited removal” denies undocumented immigrants due process legal hearings and the right to appeal.
Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has grown harsher as he uses anti-immigrant sentiment to rouse support for his 2024 Presidential campaign. During his 2016 campaign, Trump called for a wall separating Mexico and the United States and branded people arriving in the United States from Mexico as “rapists.” As president, Trump considered developing a militarized border and shooting people who attempted to cross the border in the legs. Trump now accuses foreign leaders of deliberately emptying “insane asylums” and sending former patients across America’s southern border.
Don’t Be a Sucker is a 1945 United States Army video on the danger of racism, bigotry, and fascism. It opens with a fake wrestling match and "crooked" gamblers targeting suckers. A street soapbox agitator addresses a crowd spewing hatred against minority groups and almost suckers one man in the audience until the man begins to talk to a Hungarian refugee from Germany about the dangers of bigotry. The video shows a Nazi speaker haranguing a crowd in Germany denouncing Jews, Catholics, and Freemasons and a German unemployed worker joins Hitler's Storm Troops. When a German teacher criticizes Nazi racial theories, he is dragged away by German soldiers. The lesson is that Nazism is a war against the truth.
Between 1933 and 1935, Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi Party gradually took total control over Germany, ending democracy and rule by law. The United States is not immune from these threats. There was a pro-Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden on February 18, 1939 and pro-Nazi marches on Long Island. As the United States ramps up for the 2024 election and some candidates make war against immigrants, minorities, refugees, and the truth, don’t be a sucker.
Donald Trump has already declared that the greatest enemy the United States faces are “the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country” and he has vowed to “root” them out. If Donald Trump, with the fascistic ideas he espouses, is elected President in 2024, there may never be another free election in this country.