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Update, May 28, 2016, 9:07 pm:
Trump has not only called Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge handling the lawsuit over Trump University, a "Mexican" but also a "hater" a word reminiscent of his accusation that many, if not most, Muslims around the world "hate America" and that therefore all of the 1.6 billion members of this religion on this planet should be barred fron entering the United States:
The following is exactly what Trump said about Judge Curiel at his May 27 San Diego rally, according to POLITICO.
"I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. His name is Gonzato Curiel,..I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself...I'm telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace, OK?
Let us think about the above words for a minute. If Trump is so eager to engage in racial slurs and vindictive threats against a judge whom he disagrees with when Trump is only a candidate and a private citizen, how independent can we expect the judiciary to be if Trump accedes to the enormous powers of the presidency?
What would happen to judges who issue decisions or take actions that Trump might disagree with, particularly on the super-sensitive issue of immigration on which Trump has such extreme views? Where would America's separation of powers under the Constitution be? What would happen to our democracy?
In this regard, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's attempt to defend Trump by assuring us that democracy and the Constitution will somehow survive if Trump becomes president are particularly chilling, How many presidents have we had whose supporters in their own party have had to say, in effect, "Don't worry, our candidate won't really be a dictator - our democracy is strong enough to outlast even him."
The following are McConnell's exact words, according to POLITICO.
"But what protects us in this country against big mistakes being made is the structure, the Constitution, the institutions, no matter how unusual a personality gets elected to office...There are constraints in this country. You don't get to do anything you want to..."
This may seem reassuring to some people who are not worried about electing a president who is so prone to use racial slurs, threats and personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with him, on immigration or any other issue. I doubt that very many people who care about America's democracy will find it reassuring.
The above two POLITICO articles are:
The following is my original post:
A frequently heard argument in defense of Donald Trump's attacks on Mexicans and other minorities is that he is only trying to highlight the need to enforce the immigration laws and protect America's borders more effectively, something that other politicians in both parties have given lip service to but allegedly never taken seriously.
Trump himself has claimed, with a good deal of justification, that he is personally responsible for putting immigration enforcement issues at the front and center of this year's presidential campaign by calling for a Wall along the Mexican border, mass deportation of 12 million unauthorized immigrants and banning all Muslims in the entire world from entering the US purely because of their religion.
But are Trump's attacks on minorities, including his statements that Mexican immigrants are "criminals" and "rapists" and that many or most Muslims around the world are filled with hatred for America, made purely out of concern over a perceived need to beef up immigration enforcement in order to protect the American people against crime, terror and job losses? Or is immigration enforcement only being used as a smoke screen for a deeper agenda, one involving the age old attempt by would be authoritarian leaders to seize power by appealing to fear and prejudice against unpopular minorities in general?
Two recent incidents in indicate that Trump's attacks on minorities are motivated by factors that go beyond immigration law enforcement issues, because they involve openly racial attacks on individuals who are obviously US citizens and therefore could not possibly be "illegal" immigrants.
One of these targets is a federal judge, and the other is a United States Senator.
At a contentious May 27 rally in San Diego that attracted vigorous protests from Latinos and their supporters, Trump attacked the federal judge who is hearing the lawsuit against Trump University, Gonzalo P. Curiel, as being "very hostile" toward him, and then said, according to the Los Angeles Times, that:
"the judge, who happens to be Mexican, which is great, I think that's fine..."
The obvious question is why, if that was really fine with Donald Trump, the judge's ethnic background had anything to do with this lawsuit. To give an example, suppose that Trump, when he turned down Bernie Sanders' offer for a debate, had said that Sanders happens to be Jewish.
Of course, Trump said no such thing. But if he (or Hillary Clinton, or any of Trump's primary opponents) had made such a reference, it would have been on headlines all over America as a throwback to a time when anti-Jewish sentiment was rampant in the United States.
However, based on the way that most of the media have covered Trump's campaign to date, we should not be surprised if Trump's latest anti-Mexican slur disappears from the news in another day or two.
In another incident, CBS News reports on May 25 that, at a rally in Albuquerque, NM, which also drew its fair share of protesters, Trump called Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas" for once having claimed to have Native American ancestry. If there is any minority group in America that has nothing whatsoever to do with immigration, it is Native Americans.
(This is unless one refers to the white Europeans who came to this country to try to exterminate Native Americans as "immigrants".) See:
At least, one could argue, Donald Trump is not a hypocrite. He doesn't try to conceal the ethnic prejudices which seem to come him so naturally and with he appears to be so comfortable.
But, given that his draconian proposals for dealing with illegal immigration and the threat of terrorism go hand in hand with demeaning comments about Mexicans and Muslims in general; and that his proposals to make drastic reductions in legal immigration by eliminating H-1B visas and labor certification green cards are hard to separate from his speeches mocking Indian and Chinese accents; and that he is now attacking American citizens on ethnic grounds over issues that have nothing to do with immigration, is there not a reasonable, or even compelling basis for concluding that Trump's immigration policies are driven by a deeper and broader bias against non-white ethnic and religious minorities in general, and not just by the perceived merits of the immigration issues which form such a major part of his campaign and his appeal to working class white voters?
For more on the danger that anti-Asian prejudice may be on the increase in America, which, if true, could explain both Trump's demeaning comments about Asian accents, but also his proposals to eliminate a major part of America's skilled worker visa system, (not to mention his tirades against alleged currency exchange rate manipulation by China and Japan) see:
Updated 05-28-2016 at 09:37 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
What is it that really makes America great? Is it closing borders, building walls, carrying out mass deportation and banning all members of a major world religion from entering the United States? Or is it America's diversity, its tradition of equal opportunity for all as a nation of immigrants?
Vinita Gupta, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and the first Indian-American woman to take her company public, writes an eloquent defense of immigration as the engine for America's greatness in a May 24 Huffington Post article:
Dear Donald Trump immigrants Like Me Make America Great
Silicon Valley is a place where boundaries of race, color, traditions, religions, melt, and the multiplicity of cultures strengthens the fabric which has fueled America's economic engine of innovation. it goes against the grain of Siliconers, with the upcoming presidential primaries in California, when Donald Trump declares he 'will make America great by building walls, by keeping Muslims out, and by bringing jobs back to America through reduced work visas.'"
The article continues with Gupta's own story as an immigrant and an entrepreneur contributing to America's innovation and prosperity. Would keeping immigrants like her out of this country really be the way to make America great?
We should not forget that Trump is not only in favor of draconian immigration enforcement, but he has also promised to eliminate H-1B visas and Labor Certification green cards, thereby banning America's most skilled and highly education immigrants from our shores, not only "terrorists", "criminals" and "rapists".
What assurance is there that Trump, whose presidential hopes depend in large part on attracting nativist and xenophobic votes, would not declare a total moratorium on immigration by executive order on his first day in office? This would most likely be only "temporary", of course - until Trump figures out "what the hell is going on" with immigration - at the end of his term or terms as president.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work permits and green cards.
Roger's practice is concentrated in H-1B specialty worker and O-1 extraordinary ability visas, and in green cards through labor certification or through opposite sex or same sex marriage. His email address is email@example.com
Updated 05-26-2016 at 12:02 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Update, May 24, 1:36 pm:
Over 450 American writers have published An Open Letter to the American People opposing Donald Trump's candidacy: The letter reads in part:
"Because American history, despite periods of nativism and bigotry, has from the first been a grand experiment in bringing people of different backgrounds together, not pitting them against one another;
Because the history of dictatorship is the history of manipulation and division, demagoguery and lies; ...
Because the rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers...intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities...
For all these reasons, we, the undersigned, as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States."
The above statement is one more voice dealing with the question whether opposition to Donald Trump is only based on a dispute over the details of immigration policy, as some of his supporters contend; or whether Trump's immigration proposals are indicative of a more fundamental issue, namely whether America will continue to be a democracy based on equal opportunity and justice for all people, without regard to race, color or religion.
My previous updates and original post appear below:
The following includes a revised version, as of May 22, of the opening portion of these comments, which were originally posted on May 21.
Is Donald Trump merely another immigration restrictionist who is calling for more rigorous enforcement of existing immigration laws in order to protect America from terrorism, crime and job losses, especially among working and middle class Americans who are worried about their future; but who is willing to operate within America's democratic system if he becomes president, and who knows better than anyone else how to make deals to get America's broken immigration system working again?
This is the explanation of some of Trump's defenders, who believe that criticism of him for allegedly using anti-immigrant prejudice in order to pave the way for the overthrow of democracy and its replacement with one-man authoritarian rule is highly exaggerated, or entirely without foundation; and that it is only motivated by attempts on the part of immigration advocates to vilify and tear down his reputation for refusing to support more liberal immigration policies.
On the other hand, there are those who see a more sinister aspect to Trump's anti-immigrant pronouncements, one which goes far beyond merely calling for stricter enforcement of existing laws on order to protect ordinary Americans, and seeks to exploit fear and prejudice against unpopular minorities as a stepping stone to overthrowing democracy and establishing dictatorship; as Hitler did in Germany, as other dictators have done since then in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and as a number of right wing neo-fascist parties, some of which claim to be inspired by or in the same mold as Trump, are seeking to do in Europe today.
A succinct summary of this view by slate.com's Jamelle Bouie reads as follows:
"Trump is a bona fide authoritarian, with a tenuous commitment to the foundations of liberal democracy (eviscerated by his plan for mass deportation) to freedom of the press. His entire campaign is an exercise in conjuring bigotry for political gain, from his initial call for a wall to keep Mexico from sending "criminals" and "rapists" and a subsequent one for a ban on Muslim entry to the United States to his coy relationship with white supremacists (Trump refused to disavow former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke) and constant repetition of anti-Muslim myths, including a widely-debunked claim that New Jersey Muslim-Americans celebrated the attacks on September 11, 2001."
Of all the comments warning of a possible Trump dictatorship, one of the most powerful and comprehensive is a May 20 article by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker called: The Dangerous Acceptance of Donald Trump. Even though this article does not mention immigration issues specifically, many of Trump's stated positions on immigration are entirely in line with Gopnik's warning that American democracy could be in grave danger from a Trump presidency, and that this country might never fully recover from the loss of its freedom even after the era of Donald Trump is behind us.
I will quote from the article, and add my own comments about how Trump's positions on immigration support Gopnik's conclusions. First:
"One can argue about whether to call him [Trump] a fascist or an authoritarian populist or a grotesque joke...but under any label Trump is a declared enemy of the liberal constitutional order of the United States - the order that has made it, in fact the great and plural country that it already is."
"He announces his enmity to America by word and action almost every day. It is articulated in his insistence on the rightness of torture and the acceptable murder of non-combatants. It is self-evident in the threats he makes daily to destroy his political enemies..."
One could add that Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from every country in the world (including, very possibly, US citizens - he has never ruled this out) from entering the US solely on the basis of religion, his plan to build a Wall on our Southern border, and, above all, his plan to use a "special task force" to carry out mass deportation on an immense scale which can only be called ethnic cleansing of non-white immigrants, accompanied by racial and religious slurs that recall the darkest moments of our history, are also diametrically opposed to America's most fundamental freedoms and values.
This is true even though, as Trump's supporters have argued, some of these proposals may be legal under current immigration law, which still includes doctrines that were developed in the authoritarian, racially charged, period of the late 19th Century Chinese exclusion laws.
The New Yorker article goes on to say:
"To say 'Well, he would not really have the power to accomplish that' is to misunderstand the nature of thin-skinned authoritarians in power. They do not arrive in office and discover, as constitutionalists do, that their capabilities are more limited than they imagined. They arrive, and then make their power as large as they can."
"Ted Cruz called Trump a pathological liar, the kind who does not know the difference between lies and truth."
We can certainly see this in Trump's statements that most Muslims around the world hate America and have terrorist sympathies, and that Mexican immigrants are mainly "criminals" and "rapists".
"Whatever the clinical diagnosis, we do appear to be getting, in place of the once famous Big Lie of the 1930's, a sordid blizzard of lies...
He's not Hitler, as his wife recently said? Well, of course he isn't. But then Hitler wasn't Hitler - until he was. At each step of the way, the shock was tempered by acceptance. It depended on conservatives pretending he wasn't so bad, compared with the Communists, while at the same time the militant left decided that their real enemies were the moderate leftists, who were really indistinguishable from the Nazis."
Even though Gopnik does not mention this, Hitler of course also drew support from popular anti-Jewish feeling which had been widespread throughout Germany for at least 100 years before Hitler's rise to power. Many Germans were so anxious to get rid of the Jews that they did not mind giving up their freedom in order to do so.
The same could be said about numerous Americans who are so motivated by resentment and prejudice against Latino and other non-white immigrants, as well as by Islamophobia which many leading US politicians, not only Donald Trump, have been spreading, that they are looking for a strongman to "Make America White Again".
Gopnik's article then issues a powerful warning:
"The American Republic stands threatened by the first overly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history - an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power.
And it concludes:
"if Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over...Countries don't really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right - not by Perons or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks...Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or italians - or Germans."
One could also mention Syrians, whom Trump has pledged to send back from the United States (if any more are allowed in by a cowardly Obama administration which has set a pathetically low admissions target of only 10,000 refugees from the twin horrors of Assad and ISIS, in one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times - comparable in at least some respects to America's refusal to let in Jewish refugees from Hitler in the 1930's, whether one likes this comparison or not).
Finally, Gopnik writes:
"The national psyche never gets over learning that tts institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak. If he can rout the Republican party in a week by having effectively secured the nomination, ask yourself what Trump could do to the American government if he had a mandate."
And we should also ask ourselves what Trump could do with our entire immigration system as we know it if he takes over the White House. This question goes far beyond legitimate policy issues such as whether our immigration laws should be enforced more compassionately or more strictly; or whether certain types of legal visas should be available to a greater or lesser number of people.
A Trump presidency, based on some of his statements and proposals, could destroy the heart of our entire immigration system, as well as turning America into a country that Americans are more eager to leave than immigrants are to come to in the future.
The link to Gopnik's article is:
Multi cives aut ea pericula quae imminent non vident, aut ea quae vident neglegunt.
("Many citizens either do not see the dangers in front of them, or they disreard the ones that they see." - Cicero)
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College, where he majored in Government, and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards.
Roger believes that promoting prejudice and discrimination against immigrants endangers the basic rights of Americans as well, and puts the foundations of our democracy at risk. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated 05-27-2016 at 02:11 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
It's not just Donald Trump. In two separate developments, a Republican Federal Judge and a Republican House Committee Chaiman have engaged in activities which, to say the least, are arguably intended to have a chilling effect on Obama administration lawyers and officials, who, in the view of the Republican officials involved, are not sufficiently tough in enforcing the immigration laws, not to mention many thousands of immigrants themselves.
The first involves the latest order of Texas Federal District Judge Andrew Hanen in Texas v US, the lawsuit by 26 state governors which seeks to invalidate President Obama's November 2014 DAPA and DACA extension executive actions. The most comprehensive description of the content and background of this order that I have found appears in a May 20 thinkprogress.org article. even though I do not agree with or endorse the characterization of this order in the link below. See
The second involves an attempt by the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee to inflame fears and antagonism toward immigrants by highlighting some sensational violent crimes committed by immigrants and pillorying the DHS for allegedly being too lenient in releasing criminal immigrants. See Nolan Rappaport's May 20 ilw.com article.
This is despite evidence that immigrants have a lower crime rate than US citizens.
To be continued.
Updated 05-20-2016 at 09:18 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
Most discussion about Donald Trump's anti-immigrant agenda is based on the assumption that his draconian immigration "enforcement" proposals, including mass deportation of targeted ethnic minorities on a scale that would have been familiar to Hitler Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot, but is much greater than anything previously imagined in America; his world-wide ban on entry by non-US citizens belonging to one of the world's major religions, and his proposal to build a Mexican Border Wall reminiscent of the Berlin Wall under communism or the Warsaw Ghetto Wall under the Nazis, would only affect the rights of immigrants, not those of US citizens.
But nothing could be further from the truth. 8 U.S.C. Section 1324 reads in relevant part as follows:
(a) Criminal Penalties:
(A) Any person who -
(ii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, has entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, transports, moves or attempts to transport or move such alien within the United States within the United States by means of transportation or otherwise, in furtherance of such violation of law;
(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, harbors or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor or shield from detection, such alien in any place...
(l) engages in a conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or
(ll) aids or abets the commission of any of the proceeding acts,
shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).
The above, on its face, is an extremely broad statute which, under the present administration, is enforced mainly or exclusively against professional smugglers or trafficers. But read literally, this statute could apply to almost anyone who encounters or has any contact with a non-US citizen who happens to be in the United States without permission, including not only illegal entrants and visa overstays, but people who may have legal visas but who may be in violation of the terms of their visa.
Nothing in this statute, for example, would, on its face, exempt a taxi driver or even a bus driver who accepts a passenger who has a foreign accent or who "looks foreign" such as someone of Latino or Asian appearance, or who, for example, happens to be wearing a Muslim headscarf. Does the term "reckless disregard" of the fact that someone is "illegal" create a duty for check that person's immigration status before giving the person a ride?
Or what about a person driving his or her own private car who gives a lift to someone he or she may have met at a party or other gathering, or even a personal friend, who has a foreign accent or who "looks foreign". Is the driver under a duty to check the passenger's papers first?
But the next section is even broader. Is an emergency room doctor, nurse or attendant under a duty to check the immigration status of a patient who may have an accent, have difficulty speaking English, or simply "look foreign" before giving a consultation or treatment? Would failure to do this be considered to be a conspiracy to permit an unauthorized immigrant to remain in the United States illegally, or would it constitute aiding and abetting such a person in doing so?
And to give another example which affects millions of American citizens, what about US citizens who are married to or are the children of unauthorized immigrants? Are they aiding and abetting their husbands, wives, mothers or fathers in remaining in the US illegally if they don't turn their spouses or parents over to the DHS for deportation?
The usual answer would be that, in a democracy such as the United States, it would be unthinkable to enforce the immigration laws in a way that would turn child against parent, or husbands and wife against each other (not to mention preventing lawyers from giving advice to clients who might be out of status). This kind of enforcement action would only be found in a totalitarian dictatorship.
This is where a May 18 Washington Post article about Donald Trump's candidacy by Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative, called
"This is how fascism comes to America"
becomes relevant. See
While "fascist" is a strong and highly charged word which can all too easily be used as an epithet rather then a term for analyzing policy, Kagan's article contains a serious, and chilling, discussion of the way in which anti-immigrant and anti-minority feeling among certain sections of the public can be used as a means to overthrow democracy. He writes the following concerning Trump's campaign statements regarding immigrants and other targeted groups:
"They provoke and play on feelings of resentment and disdain, intermingled with bits of fear, resentment and anger. His public discourse consists of attacking or ridiculing a wide range of 'others' - Muslims, Hispanics, women, Chinese, Mexicans, Europeans, Arabs, immigrants, refugees - whom he depicts either as threats or as objects of derision."
And what could happen to our democracy if exploiting popular anger, prejudice and hatred against immigrants and other unpopular minorities catapults Donald trump to the presidency of the United States?
"Imagine the power he would wield then. In addition to all that comes from being leader of a mass following, he would also have the immense powers of the American presidency at his command: the Justice Department, the FBI, the intelligence services,, the military. Who would dare to oppose him then?...And is a man like Trump, with infinitely greater power in his hands, likely to become more humble, more judicious, more generous,, less vengeful than he is today, than he has been his whole life? Does vast power un-corrupt?
This is how fascism comes to America, not with jackboots..."
In this last sentence, Kagan appears to overlook Trump's "Special Deportation Task Force", which his former opponent for the nomination, Sen. Ted Cruz, aptly referred to as "jackboots".
When anti-immigrant hatred is combined with absolute power, can anyone possibly say that American citizens will be safe from the threat of going to jail for not reporting of turning in their closest family members for deportation, or for giving even the most innocent advice or assistance to casual acquaintances or strangers without checking their citizenship or immigration documents first?
As Cicero wrote:
Multi cives aut ea pericula quae imminent non vident, aut ea quae vident neglegunt.
("Many citizens either fail to see the dangers right ahead of them, or they see the dangers but disregard them.")
Attorney at Law
New York NY
Updated 05-21-2016 at 03:25 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs