The following comment has been expanded and revised as of November 16 at 2:00 am: is running two recent stories which may appear to be unrelated on the surface, but are in fact both part of the same larger authoritarian picture. This larger picture is the connection between governmental discrimination or persecution of immigrants based on race or religion, on the one hand, and loss of democratic freedoms on the other.

The first of these two stories deals with November 13 decisions by the 4th and 9th Circuit federal appeals courts upholding the parts of the latest version of Trump's Muslim entry ban order which affect mainly tourists and refugees.

Even though both orders contain large exceptions, namely for citizens of the six named countries (which include Niger, one of America's most important allies on the African continent in the war against radical Islamist terror!) who already have ties with the United States, the decisions are still a victory for the Trump administration.

In effect, they uphold the doctrines, urged by the president in defending the various versions of the ban in the federal courts, that it is Constitutionally acceptable to discriminate against immigrants on the basis of their religion in principle (as long as the executive uses the magic words "national security" instead of religion); and even more dangerous for democracy, that, with only a few exceptions, the president has virtually unlimited power to determine which immigrants can enter the US without any effective interference by the courts.

The second story deals with the response of the Justice Department to demands by Republican Representative Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who is known mainly for his sponsorship of anti-immigrant bills. One of his most recent, for example, would give state and local jurisdictions the power to enact their own immigration enforcement measures.

This would not only bring back measures such as Arizona's infamous and discredited racial profiling S.B. 1070 law, but would lead to similar laws in every part of the nation, creating fear and chaos in immigrant communities coast to coast. Now, in yet another example of how discrimination and persecution directed again immigrants because of their race or religion of often lead to the overthrow of democracy and the institution of dictatorship, Goodlatte is demanding that the Justice Department appoint a second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton over allegations that no one up to now has ever found any reason to take seriously.

The obvious purpose is to retaliate against Clinton for running against Donald Trump for president (and, even worse, winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes). In this respect, Goodlatte is in effect acting as a surrogate for Trump, who is also trying to pressure the Justice Department to investigate Hillary Clinton as a distraction from his own problems with special counsel Robert Mueller.

See: NY Times, November 14:

'Lock Her Up' Becomes More Than a Slogan

While this may appeal to Trump's base, who kept shouting "Lock Her Up!" at his rallies, this is not the way democracies work. Democratic countries do not threaten to send political opponents of the ruling party to jail to punish them for losing an election. Dictatorships do.

It is true that Goodlatte's pressure on the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton (over what?) is not directly related to immigration policy. It is also a fact that that DOJ chief Jeff Sessions, who, as Attorney General, is the loyal chief enforcer of Trump's draconian mass deportation agenda (which it would not be unfair or inaccurate to refer to as ethnic cleansing), may apparently be resisting these calls, as explained in the above news stories.

Sessions' response shows that harsh governmental action against minority immigrants can still in some cases, still be consistent with adherence to the rule of law.

But this is the exception. Far more often, singling out racial or religious minorities for persecution has led to dictatorship in the past. One only needs to look at the example of Germany in the 1930's.

Moreover, Trump's claim of absolute power to ban foreign citizens from the US purely on the basis of his own will is one side of the same authoritarian coin that includes his push to lock up his opponent in last year's election on the other side of the same coin.

What happened in Germany in the 1930's can happen here. Calling for a criminal investigation of Trump's presidential opponent at a time when his administration is ramping up measures against both legal and illegal immigration by non-white immigrants on almost every front, while claiming before the Supreme Court and lower federal courts that he has unlimited power to bar Muslim immigrants, or any other immigrants he chooses, from entering the United States, threatens to bring America closer to dictatorship.
Roger Algase is a New York lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants, from many different parts of the world, obtain work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is