Mass Deportation: Trump and Attrition Through Enforcement

Donald Trump claimed recent raids were part of his promised crackdown, but numbers are actually paltry in comparison to recent years — it’s not a mistake, it’s psychological warfare.

As when ISIS claims responsibility for an attack it did not perpetrate, Trump achieves a chief end by falsely claiming his “crackdown” is underway— terrorizing the immigrant community.

(The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University is examining recent raids to determine if a deportation “surge” is taking place)

This is a hallmark of a “self-deportation” (also known as “attrition through enforcement”) approach to illegal immigration, which Trump has supported, and has in fact been cultivating since he began his campaign in June 2015. Self-deportation is also supported by Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who hails from a state which passed an infamous immigration law with self-deportation as its aim.

Why self-deportation? As NumbersUSA, the “grassroots” organization within John Tanton’s anti-immigration network, puts it:

“There is no need for taxpayers to watch the government spend billions of their dollars to round up and deport illegal aliens; they will buy their own bus or plane tickets back home if they can no longer earn a living here.”

The general idea is that instead of tracking down and deporting undocumented persons, laws and regulations are created which make remaining in the country untenable.

Sessions supported a now invalidated “self-deportation” law in his home state, a bill widely described as “draconian.”

Alabama’s 2011 immigration law, known as HB 56, now ruled invalid by the Supreme Court, was the most extreme implementation of attrition through enforcement yet enacted.

In the words of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Micky Hammon from Decatur,

“This bill is designed to make it difficult for them to live here so they will deport themselves.”

To accomplish this, Harmon said, the bill “attack[ed] every aspect of an illegal alien’s life.

The day the law went into effect in October of 2011, thousands of school children were reported absent from schools across the state.

Parents were scared their children or they themselves would be arrested and deported due to the law’s provision that “[e]very public elementary and secondary school in this state, at the time of enrollment in kindergarten or any grade in such school, shall determine whether the student enrolling in public school was born outside the jurisdiction of the United States or is the child of an alien not lawfully present in the United States.”

The law also stripped undocumented immigrants of basic legal protections like contract enforcement, prescribing that “[n]o court of this state shall enforce the terms of . . . any contract between a party and an alien unlawfully present in the United States, if the party had direct or constructive knowledge that the alien was unlawfully present.”

Section 13 criminalized “harboring” and “transporting” any undocumented immigrant while “know[ing] or recklessly disregard[ing]” the fact that “the alien has come to, has 4 5 entered, or remains in the United States in violation of federal law.”

According to the ACLU, HB 56 also usurped the federal government’s authority by creating a state immigration police force.

Section 22 authorizes the Alabama Department of Homeland Security to “hire . . . and maintain . . . state law enforcement officers” whose job is not to “engage in routine law enforcement activity,” but instead to perform “investigative and analytical duties necessary to carry out the enforcement of this act.”

“Thus, § 22 creates a new state immigration police force, supplanting the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This is constitutionally impermissible,” according to the ACLU.

The law in effect created a separate class who were now not only subject to apprehension by law enforcement but to abuse by private citizens, as when a man who’d hired day laborers brandishes a pistol then refused to pay for their work.

And on….

Self-deportation has a “success” story from the not-too-distant American past.

In the early 20th Century, Mexican nationals were targeted for “repatriation” as scapegoats for the economic hardships of the Great Depression. At least 500,000 were forcibly repatriated, about half of those US citizens, according to the 1980 U. S. Commission on Civil Rights report, The Tarnished Golden Door: Civil Rights Issues in Immigration.

The mass deportations of the 1930’s were specifically designed to inflict mental harm on the entire community.

There was a focused effort in the United States to restrict the economic and social mobility of Mexicans. Legal restrictions were placed on the jobs that aliens could hold — in order to be an accountant, lawyer, teacher, or to work on certain public works projects in many states that had high Mexican populations, like California, Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, a Mexican had to be an American citizen.

Welfare organizations cut off aid specifically for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, while maintaining payments to white Americans (only legal immigrants and citizens were eligible to receive welfare aid, so immigration status could not have been the reason for terminating welfare aid to Mexicans).

Door-to-door repatriation campaigns were led by private citizens, local police forces, civic groups, and federal government officials.

These could be purely persuasive, threats of deportation, or violence. Mexican nationals were often arrested without probable cause and offered a choice: deportation proceedings or voluntary repatriation.

In addition to cutting off means of employment and social assistance, the US government, local officials, and private entities began a campaign of psychological warfare. Rumors and propaganda helped to breed fear in the Mexican-American population and deportation raids by the government were highly publicized.

President Herbert Hoover appointed William N. Doak as secretary of labor in 1930. Under Doak, the Bureau of Immigration launched intensive raids to identify aliens liable for deportation — a nationwide ‘scare’ campaign against Mexicans, that even included “slanted newspaper stories…to publicize deportation raids to serve as a ‘psychological gesture’ to frighten aliens, Mexicans in particular, to leave the United States.”

Then as now, Los Angeles was home to a large population of Mexican immigrants, and the city was a focus of the embroiling ethnic tension.

In January 1931, the Los Angeles County welfare director asked federal immigration officials to send a team to the city to supervise the deportation of Mexicans. Federal agents, he said, would “have a tendency to scare many thousands of alien deportables out of this district, which is the intended result.”

The next month they complied in spades with a raid on La Placita Park, “near the barrios of Bunker Hill and a popular gathering spot for recent immigrants,” reported the LA Times in a 70th anniversary feature of the incident.

The park was a place where Mexican Americans “could search for work or, at least, find companions for a good political debate about their Mexican homeland.”

At exactly 3 p.m. on Feb. 26, 1931, reports the Times:

In part to send a message nationwide, a team of plainclothes and uniformed INS agents sealed off the tiny park before anybody knew they were there.
The word “Razzia!” (“Raid!”) shattered the afternoon serenity as men and women ran from federal agents wielding guns and batons.
In about a week, the first official repatriation train left Los Angeles for Mexico with more than 400 on board. Within about six months, another 50,000 had been caught nationwide and put on trains and ships.

The Los Angeles Evening Express, aiding in the propaganda efforts, wrote that the repatriados were “going to a land where the unemployed take all-day siestas in the warm sun.”

The children huddled on train station platforms were “following their parents to a new land of promise, where they may play in green fields without watching out for automobiles,” wrote the Express.

Emilia Castaneda, one of those children, first glimpsed Mexican poverty in the tattered shoes on the old train porter who carried her father’s trunk. “He was wearing huaraches,” she recalled. “Huaraches are sandals worn by poor people. They are made out of old tires and scraps.”

Castaneda was warned by some adults at the station that staying would mean she would become a ward of the state.

As Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodriguez wrote in their book Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, the site “was chosen for its maximum psychological impact in the INS’s war of nerves against the Mexican community.”

Politicians claimed the repatriations were an economic necessity.

John R. Quinn, Supervisor of the Board of Supervisors of the City of Los Angeles, said in late 1932, “If we rid this country of the aliens who have entered this country illegally since 1931…our present unemployment problem would shrink to the proportions of a relatively unimportant flat spot in business.”

In order to achieve the removal of 3 million people, let alone 11 million, Trump needs self-deporters.

It is a virtual impossibility of Exodus logistics for ICE to round up and forcibly remove all undocumented immigrants within two years — Trump’s best hope is disincentivizing continued presence in the US.

He’s made steps already with his rhetoric and with executive orders — he’s also got the right man at the Department of Justice.

Sessions to have big sway on immigration — As attorney general, he would have vast enforcement powers, writes Brian Bennett in the San Diego Union-Tribune November 25, 2016.

As AG, Sessions will be at the the helm of “a handful of obscure offices in the Department of Justice hold vast sway over how immigration cases are heard in court and how quickly migrants can be deported.”

Sessions is “a fierce opponent of any pathway to legal status for the estimated 11 million people in the U.S. illegally” whose fight on the Senate floor against Obama’s “amnesty” has also given Sessions “a mechanic’s knowledge of the inner workings of immigration policy,” wrote Bennett.

Bennett quotes John Sandweg, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2014.

“He can have a tremendous impact,” said Sandweg, with “complete control over the immigration courts and whether to use criminal prosecutions against immigrants.”

522,000 deportation cases are pending in immigration courts, and Sessions may have occasion to hire “dozens of new judges who agree with his hard-line views.”

Additionally, writes Bennett, “former aides to Sessions were instrumental in adding tough immigration proposals to the GOP platform, including cutting federal funding to cities that don’t cooperate with immigration agents, and increasing penalties for migrants convicted of illegally reentering the U.S. after being deported.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance reimburses local jails for holding federal prisoners. Sessions has repeatedly called for cutting those funds to coerce local authorities to identify and turn over illegal immigrants — he’ll now be in charge of the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

He could also order DOJ lawyers to get federal court orders for local officials to cooperate with federal immigration agents, writes Bennett.

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