Donald Trump’s Immigration Speech Didn’t Just Border on Dystopia: It Embraced It

Donald Trump doubles down on his nightmarish vision for the Southwest border region.

By Alessandra Soler, executive director of ACLU of AZ and Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of NM Regional Center for Border Rights

Last night, Donald Trump didn’t soften his policy stances on immigration. In fact, he doubled down on his nightmarish vision for the Southwest border region — our home.

“All energies of the federal government and the legislative process must now be focused on immigration security,” he said, as he elaborated his plans to expand and fortify the existing border wall, and add border and deportation agents with expanded powers. “That is the only conversation we should be having at this time.”

Trump’s hateful scapegoating of immigrants, and his draconian immigration enforcement proposals, last night confirmed what we at the ACLU have already called a one-man constitutional crisis. Here’s how life under a Trump administration would look across this nation: massive arrests, rampant profiling based on race and religion and more illegal searches and seizures by an out-of-control Border Patrol.

Maricopa County, where Trump spoke, was a symbolic setting to suggest the impact of his proposed “deportation force.” This is the stomping grounds of the nation’s most lawless lawman, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently referred for criminal prosecution for flouting court orders to stop illegally detaining Latinos to investigate their immigration status. Trump’s decision to deliver his speech in Maricopa County wasn’t a dog whistle, it was a foghorn.

While Trump said the current administration has failed to enforce immigration laws, more resources than ever before have been deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border, including 10 border patrol agents per linear mile, drones, 650 miles of fencing, and hundreds of surveillance technologies.

And local law enforcement continues to collude with federal officials in deporting hundreds of thousands, helping Obama earn the moniker of Deporter in Chief. Local jurisdictions have continued to use dragnet programs, raising concern about widespread racial profiling, prolonged detentions of U.S. citizens, and deportations of victims and witnesses of crimes. The devastating public safety outcomes are exactly why hundreds of local jurisdictions and police professionals nationwide have opted out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement programs.

Donald Trump wants to turn the Southern border region into a police state.

Trump touted his “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful Southern border wall,” a fixture in his campaign of racial and ethnic bias against Mexicans. Trump’s disrespect for border communities’ quality of life suggests a border security approach akin to the fortified shoot-to-kill zone dividing the Koreas.

The Border Patrol union expects free rein under a Trump administration — that means more illegal policing of border communities, more racial profiling, more excessive force, and more dead teenagers.

As we’ve said before, the border region is our home, a place of safe and tranquil cities, where cultural and economic exchanges with our Mexican neighbors fuel economies in America’s heartland. (The U.S. Chamber of Commerce agrees.) And biometric entry/exit systems would only worsen border delays that cost millions in GDP while invading privacy.

Most importantly, Trump’s big picture fundamentally offends American values.

Trump proposes “ideological tests” — in which aspiring immigrants would be grilled on their opinions on the rights of women and gay people, for instance. The language may have changed, but this is still simply the latest chapter of a storied history of race discrimination in U.S. immigration policy. Trump is now talking about banning immigrants from specific Muslim countries, rather than all Muslims — but his goal is the same: to single out adherents of a particular faith. Our Constitution does not tolerate such discrimination.

Make no mistake: Trump’s dystopian vision guarantees no peace, no justice, and no dignity for communities of color or refugees and immigrants, and we will all feel the economic and constitutional costs. Donald Trump wants to turn the Southern border region into a police state.