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Could Trump's Deportation Task Force Endanger America's Freedom? Pt. 1. Roger Algase

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On May 29. POLITICO published an article by one of its top immigration reporters, Seung Min Kim. and her colleague Sarah Wheaton, called Dreamers face nightmare of Trump's deportation force.

The article describes how, even if the Supreme Court ultimately rules in favor of the Obama administration in its attempt to implement its program for expanded deportation relief

"that potential deportation relief [could be] on a collision course with Trump's deportation force."

The article describes the Hobson's choice which might be facing millions of unauthorized ("illegal") immigrants in deciding whether to register for deportation relief even if the Supreme Court ultimately approves Obama's DAPA and expanded DACA programs:

"...people living in the shadows will possibly be exposing themselves just as Trump inches closer to the White House and decides whether to fulfill his pledge to use a deportation force to kick out the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States."

Aside from striking terror into 11 or 12 million mainly Latino and Asian immigrants and, in millions of cases, their US citizen spouses and children whose families would be broken up, could Trump's deportation force create a danger to the freedoms of all Americans? In order to answer this question, this 2-part series will look at two precedents to Trump's proposed task force.

The first precedent, cited by Trump himself when he first made the task force proposal, is the operation known under the crude anti-Mexican racial slur "Operation Wetback" carried out by the Eisenhower administration in the 1950's. This will be discussed in Part 1.

The second precedent, which involved using a special task force or forces for mass deportation of a different, though initially much smaller, unpopular group of immigrants, comes from Germany in the 1930's. This will be discussed in Part 2. So far, Trump has made no mention of this second precedent.

To start with Trump's description of his own mass deportation task force proposal, he left the details vague, other than to say that the mass deportation would be handled in a "nice" and "humane" way. He then referred to the fact that Dwight Eisenhower, who carried out mass deportation of Mexicans in 1954, was a regarded as a "nice" and popular president.Trump quoted the 1950's slogan "I like Ike".

No matter how many people may have liked Ike in the 1950's (and as someone who was following politics at that time though not old enough to vote, I can attest that there were quite a few Americans in that period who did not "like Ike"), the question is whether Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback" was really as humane as Trump claims. One can also ask whether it respected the rights of legal residents.

In an analysis of Operation Wetback appearing in a September 28, 2015 article, Latino USA describes it as follows:


"Though Operation Wetback officially targeted only illegal immigrants, many legal residents were caught up in the dragnet and ended up in Mexico...the INS transported the deportees on buses, trucks, trains and ships deep into the heart of Mexico in order to make it more difficult for them to return...Many Mexicans were transported from Port Isabel to Veracruz in filthy and crowded ships. The boatlift, however, was terminated when seven deportees jumped overboard...and drowned. Their tragic deaths provoked a mutiny and lead to a public outcry in Mexico...

The exact toll of Operation Wetback will never be known, but the impact on the Mexican community was destructive. Again, as in the 1930's, families were uprooted and ruined and immigrant communities were destroyed."

How "humane" does the above sound?

According to the same article, the INS claimed that 1,300,00 Mexicans were deported during Operation Wetback. Trump's plan would involve deporting almost ten times as many people, according to current estimates.

To be continued in Part 2.
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 visas and green cards. His practice is primarily focused on H-1B specialty occupation and O-1 extraordinary ability work visas, J-1 training visas, and green cards through labor certification and opposite sex or same sex marriage.

Roger's email address is

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Updated 05-31-2016 at 09:37 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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  1. Nolan Rappaport's Avatar
    It's important to keep this situation in perspective. I don't think they "should" be deported either, but despite Roger's apparent belief to the contrary, the 11 million undocumented aliens Trump wants to deport are here illegally and if a Trump administration puts them in removal proceedings, it will be implementing the law.

    Also, this is a very complicated situation with the potential for unintended consequences. The Obama executive action programs are a good example. See my article, "President Obama?s use of executive discretion could have unintended consequences if Donald Trump becomes our next president," (March 7, 2016),,0307-Rappaport.pdf
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    I have slightly edited my above comment to remove any possible doubt as to the fact that I am aware that the 11 million people whom Trump proposes to deport are in the US without authorization, i.e. ("illegally"). This was also obvious from the subject matter of my post, which is deporting people from the United States.

    Even Trump is only proposing to deport only people who do not have legal status in this country. He has not (yet) suggested deporting legal immigrants.

    Nolan's argument that US law authorizes deporting people who do not have legal status in this country is beside the point. The point is not whether it would be legal to deport 11 million people, but whether this can be done in a way does not endanger the freedom of the American people as a whole by setting up a deportation "task force" that would in effect be above the law.

    Part 2 of my comments on this topic will describe a special "deportation task force" that was set up in Germany in the 1930's to remove (initially) a small number of Polish Jews (about 15,000) who were not German citizens and who were, arguably, present in Germany in violation of German law.

    This special task force was called. in German, the Geheime Staatspolizei.

    It is known to history as the Gestapo.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 05-31-2016 at 10:01 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. anilsarmadal's Avatar
    Advertisement deleted.
    Updated 08-24-2016 at 06:40 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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