Two Ominous Signs of the Trump Regime's Expanding Authoritarianism

[Content Note: Nativism.]

In March of last year, I flagged that the Trump administration was signalling they would soon come after documented immigrants. As you may recall, it was something Steve Bannon said that raised the hairs on the back of my neck: "Don't we have a problem with legal immigration? Twenty percent of this country is immigrants. Is that not the beating heart of this problem?"

In the intervening year, Trump has empowered and institutionalized a nativist, white supremacist, anti-immigrant agenda that I have long been warning will underwrite a targeting of U.S. citizens.

In January, the administration did the previously unthinkable: Revoked a naturalized citizen's citizenship, reverting him to a lawful permanent resident and potentially making him subject to deportation. In May, a border patrol agent detained two women who are citizens and demanded to see ID because they were speaking Spanish in public. Recently, the president suggested that that people who protest state violence (police killings) should be removed from the country. And earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it was establishing a new federal office to strip citizenship from "Americans who are suspected of cheating to get their citizenship."

I have said before and will keep saying: This administration's (mis)treatment of undocumented immigrants is their canary in the coalmine. Their vile nativist campaign is intolerable on its face and must be strenuously resisted for its own reasons, but we must simultaneously understand that whatever they are doing to undocumented immigrants will be used to target others in the same way eventually. We must resist their nativist strategies not only because they are cruel and indecent and unjust, but also because if we fail to resist them, they will proliferate.

Indeed, they already are proliferating — and, as I have been urgently warning, the next target is documented immigrants.

Ronald Brownstein at CNN reports that the GOP increasingly opposes legal immigration (recall the above Bannon quote as you read this next part; emphasis mine):
The firestorm over the separation of children from their undocumented parents at the border has almost completely overshadowed another milestone in the long-running national immigration debate: Opposition to legal, as well as illegal, migration is hardening into a bedrock principle of the Republican Party.

With last week's vote in the House of Representatives on hardline immigration legislation from GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, about three-fourths of Republicans in both the House and Senate have voted this year to cut legal immigration by about 40%. That would represent, by far, the largest reduction in legal immigration since Congress voted in 1924 to virtually shut off immigration for the next four decades.

And while each of the bills this year to slash legal immigration ultimately fell short of passage, their preponderant support among Republicans marked a telling shift in the GOP's center of gravity: The last time Congress seriously considered cuts in legal immigration during the 1990s, about three-fourths of Senate Republicans, and about one-third of House Republicans, opposed it.

"It tells me that the party is more interested in reducing the number of foreigners in the United States than in reducing illegal immigration," says David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute.

...[T]he GOP's geographic center over the next few elections will tilt even more toward the places least affected by immigration. That would further strengthen the party's nativist elements at a time when Trump is already championing them. And that means, even as America inexorably grows more diverse, the party is likely to hurtle further away from the support for legal immigration championed by Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush.

"I don't see any way to get back to it now that Republicans know where their base is on their issue," says Bier. "I would be surprised if you didn't see a more restrictive legal immigration plank than you already have in the GOP platform in 2020."
That is one ominous sign that Trump's authoritarianism, centered firmly around the violent othering of immigrants, is expanding. Here is the second, reported by Betsy Woodruff at the Daily Beast:
An immigration attorney said an Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer broke her foot and locked her in a room early Tuesday morning in Kansas City, Missouri.

Andrea Martinez told The Daily Beast she was dropping off a 3-year-old immigrant at an ICE facility to be reunited with his mother before they are to be deported to Honduras. Martinez said she was accompanying the boy, his pregnant mother, and his father into an ICE field office but Martinez was denied access. That's when Martinez said she was "knocked to the ground and bloodied" by an ICE officer.

...Martinez said the ICE officer detained her and locked her in an office before calling the Federal Protective Service and "continually looked at my phone to make sure I wasn't recording him."

Martinez told The Daily Beast she suffered a fracture to her right foot.
Surely I'm not the only person who understands that government agents physically harming and detaining people who are trying to help the scapegoated population is both very familiar and very dangerous.

Responding to this nightmare with "civility" is not only insufficient; it's to be an accomplice to expanding malice.

I am part of an immigrant family, and I certainly hope you will make noise now. Do not wait.

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