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?

Kagan writes:

"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.")

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
New York NY