Anyone who thinks that immigration policy exists in a vacuum affecting foreign citizens only, unrelated to larger issues of racial equality and democracy for Americans as well, should pay attention to the warning implicit in Donald Trump's two latest chilling comments affecting the voting and citizenship rights of American citizens.

The first, as has now been reported by every major news media in America, is his totally unfounded statement, unsupported by a single shred of evidence, that he would have won the popular vote in the presidential election if there had not been 3 million "illegal" votes against him.

Trump did not say who these "illegal" voters might have been, but during the campaign, he suggested that illegal immigrants could be coming into the country to vote against him.

Statements such as these suggest a lack of acceptance, if not outright hostility, not only toward immigrants, but for the foundation of America's entire democracy, which depends on free and fair elections, undistorted by wild claims that if a candidate loses, it only be the fault of alleged "voting" by illegal immigrants.


An even more chilling statement, which should cause the highest level of concern to everyone who cares about preserving our democracy, was Trump's November 29 statement that anyone engaging in flag burning should be subject to losing his or her US citizenship.

Our next president might need to be respectfully reminded that the late Justice Scalia himself, whom Trump has expressed great admiration for, wrote the majority opinion in a 1989 Supreme Court decision upholding the Constitutionality of flag burning as a permissible form of free speech.

Justice Scalia later said (in 2015):

"If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag...But I am not king."

Certainly, even the anti-immigrant extremists whom Trump has either already appointed to his cabinet as the next attorney general, Jeff Sessions, or is reportedly considering for appointment as DHS chief, Kris Kobach, will not have the power summarily to deprive any US citizens of the 14th Amendment right to American citizenship for exercising the 1st Amendment right to free speech.

America is not yet at the end of that road. But, arguably, America could already be on the road that leads in that direction.

Sessions will have, if confirmed, enormous power, not only to harass and prosecute minority immigrants and their American citizen family members, employers, friends and supporters for a variety of immigration-related criminal offenses, including but not limited to "harboring" or "assisting" illegal immigrants under INA Section 274, but he will also be able to prosecute voter registration organizations for helping black and Hispanic Americans gain access to the polls as they are guaranteed under our Constitution.

He will also have the power to put the federal government on the side of gutting, rather than enforcing, whatever protections still remain under the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1964.

Fifty years of progress in guaranteeing the right to vote to minority Americans could be, and very probably will be, reversed.

Taking away the voting rights of minority Americans will almost certainly by mirrored in taking away or restricting the due process rights of Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and black immigrants fighting deportation. As POLITICO points out, Sessions will have complete control over the immigration courts and the BIA.

In addition Kobach, who as mentioned above, is reportedly being considered for DHS chief, has arguably done more than anyone else in America to draft and support draconian racial profiling immigration laws such as Arizona's notorious S.B. 1070 and its even more severe counterpart in Alabama, most parts of which statutes have been struck down by the Supreme Court and other federal courts. See:

At the same time, no one in America has tried harder and more persistently (or less successfully, according to numerous federal court decisions which have struck down state voter ID and other voter suppression laws which he has written or inspired) than Kobach to stop black, Latino and other minority Americans from voting. See:

A half century of progress toward racial equality in our immigration system, ever since the immigration reform law of 1965 ended 80 or more years of legal white supremacy in this country's immigration policies, could be set back or wiped out completely.

What is President-elect Trump trying to tell America by posting his latest tweets implying that when he loses an election (such as the presidential popular vote, which he lost to Hillary Clinton by over 2 million votes) it can only be because of "illegal" voters, and threatening to deprive Americans of their Constitutionally guaranteed citizenship for exercising their Constitutionally protected free speech rights?

What is Trump trying to tell America by appointing anti-immigrant zealots such as Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Kris Kobach to his transition team?

These actions could very likely mean that 50 years of progress toward racial equality and equal justice for all, for immigrants and Americans alike, and basic voting and free speech rights without which America cannot continue to call itself a democracy, may come under intense, savage, attack in Donald Trump's America.
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 from diverse parts of the world and ethnic/religious backgrounds obtain work visas and green cards.

Roger has consistently fought for the rights of immigrants to fundamental fairness and justice under our laws and regulations. His email address is