The Criminalization Of Immigrants From Clinton To Trump

Two previous Democratic presidents laid the groundwork for Trump's policies.
04/25/2017 02:20 pm ET
Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters

Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

As with America’s wars, so with the walling in of America, there’s a distinct history for President Trump to build on when it comes to the criminalization and deportation of large numbers of immigrants ― and, as TomDispatch regular Aviva Chomsky, author of Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, writes today, it’s a history that is remarkably, dismally bipartisan. In a piece that runs against the grain of the moment but with the grain of history, she suggests that, despite the media panic over Trump’s deportation policies (and threats) as something new and terrifying that we’ve never seen before, the sorry history of recent presidencies ― Bill Clinton’s and Barack Obama’s in particular ― suggests otherwise. In this sharp, thoughtful, and original piece, Chomsky explores just what those two Democratic presidents built, in terms of deportation policies, that will serve Donald Trump well over the next four years. Don’t miss this one! Love, Tom

From TomDispatch this morning: What Trump inherited, deportation in context ― Aviva Chomsky, “Making Sense of the Deportation Debate, How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Laid the Groundwork for Trump’s Immigration Policies”.

TomDispatch regular Aviva Chomsky begins her latest piece this way: “Ever since he rode a Trump Tower escalator into the presidential race in June 2015 and swore to build his ‘great wall’ and stop Mexican ‘rapists’ from entering the country, undocumented immigrants have been the focus of Donald Trump’s ire. Now that he’s in the Oval Office, the news has been grim. A drumbeat of frightening headlines and panicked social media posts have highlighted his incendiary language, his plans and executive orders when it comes to immigrants, and the early acts of the Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents when it comes to round-ups and deportations. The temperature has soared on the deportation debate, so if you think we’re in a completely unprecedented moment when it comes to immigration and immigrants, you’re in good company.

“Trump has repeatedly claimed that immigrants, especially undocumented ones, are flooding the United States, causing crime waves, and depleting social service budgets. Never mind that the number of such immigrants has been in steady decline since 2008, that immigrant crime rates are lower than citizen crime rates, that the undocumented have no access to most social welfare programs, and that crime figures, too, have generally been on the decline in recent years.

“The media has played its own role in fanning the flames. Since Donald Trump entered the Oval Office, news reports have proliferated about rising raids, arrests, detentions, and deportations. These suggest that something new, terrifying, and distinctly Trumpian ― something we’ve simply never seen before ― is underway, including mass sweeps to deport individuals who would have been protected under the previous administration.”

In the rest of her piece, Chomsky explores out just how two previous Democratic presidents laid the groundwork for Donald Trump’s coming deportation policies. It’s a grim, sad story, but a must-read!

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