Donald Trump, Deporter in Waiting

, NY Times, SEPT. 2, 2016

Don’t be confused by the days of mixed messaging from Donald Trump’s campaign, or the head-feint trip to Mexico, where he was polite to the president. Speaking on Wednesday in Phoenix, Mr. Trump did not retreat from, or in any way soften, his promise to make 11 million unauthorized immigrants targets for deportation. His speech — in 10 points, embellished with statistics, ad-libbed asides and audience hollering and chanting — was as clear a statement of hard-core restrictionism as any he has given.

It was a mass-deportation speech, even if he avoided that phrase. Its intent was hard to miss.

Leave aside the bit about the “impenetrable” wall, an applause line for an engineering fiction. To understand what’s so appalling and frightening about Mr. Trump, focus instead on some things he could actually try to do, if America gives him the job and Congress gives the money:

1. “Under my administration, anyone who illegally crosses the border will be detained until they are removed out of our country and back to the country from which they came. And they’ll be brought great distances.”

2. “We will issue detainers for illegal immigrants who are arrested for any crime whatsoever, and they will be placed into immediate removal proceedings.”

3. “My plan also includes cooperating closely with local jurisdictions to remove criminal aliens immediately. We will restore the highly successful Secure Communities program. Good program. We will expand and revitalize the popular 287(g) partnerships.”

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Donald Trump in Phoenix on Wednesday. Credit Travis Dove for The New York Times

4. “We’re going to triple the number of ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] deportation officers. Within ICE, I am going to create a new special deportation task force focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants. … We’re also going to hire 5,000 more Border Patrol agents.”

5. “We will immediately terminate President Obama’s two illegal executive amnesties in which he defied federal law and the Constitution to give amnesty to approximately five million illegal immigrants.”

Nos. 1 and 2 are a plan to add many tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of new prison beds, while also filling local jails to bursting. They’re a gift to the private, for-profit prison industry and will ensure that any arrests, even false ones, can be springboards to deportation.

No. 3 is a discarded page from President Obama’s playbook. Mr. Obama vastly expanded Secure Communities, a national dragnet that enlisted state and local law-enforcement officials to check the immigration status of everyone arrested. Many communities resisted it, calling it a tool for racial profiling that wasted resources, traumatized innocent people and got in the way of deterring crime before Mr. Obama abandoned it. Under the similarly toxic 287(g) program, local departments — like that of the infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona — became partners of ICE on street patrols and in jails.

No. 4 is a gift to an ICE union that endorsed Mr. Trump, and a plan to make the most bloated federal law-enforcement bureaucracy, Homeland Security, even bigger.

And No. 5 tells millions of immigrants — who were brought here as children, or have citizen children, and pose no threat — to be very afraid, because we will hunt you down and expel you, and we already know where you live.

The entire speech, in fact, imagines that government at all levels will be used to hunt down and remove immigrants from their homes, families and jobs. Mr. Trump was describing a world of lockups and surveillance and fugitive-hunting squads, a vast system of indiscriminate catch-and-punish that works as hard to catch hotel maids and landscapers as it does gang members and terrorists.

And this applies not just to immigrants, but to everyone who could be mistaken for one. Corrupt local police officers will pick up anyone they want, knowing Mr. Trump’s agents will swiftly take suspects off their hands.

Nativists across the land were praising Mr. Trump’s immigration speech as wonderful, potent stuff. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that wants to restrict immigration, called it a “real-world version” of what’s “necessary to control immigration.” If you saw Mr. Trump’s speech, and you care about the country and values of tolerance and human rights and weren’t disgusted, you were either fooled, or not paying attention.

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