One of the most frequently heard arguments in support of Donald Trump's anti-immigrant agenda is that no matter how devastating its effect may be on mainly non-white immigrants as opposed to ones from Trump's preferred "Countries like Norway" the administration is only "enforcing the immigration laws".

Therefore, according to this argument, the fact that the Trump/Miller/Barr agenda of excluding and deporting both legal and unauthorized immigrants in as many different categories as possible affects mainly brown, black and Muslim immigrants, rather than white, Christian ones,is only a coincidence.

This argument is no doubt meant sincerely and in good faith, but It is difficult to believe that this it could be taken seriously by anyone familiar with the full extent of the Trump administration's attempt to limit and roll back non-white immigration. Nor can it be regarded as a serious argument by anyone who is at all familiar with America's immigration history.

When US visa officers refused visas to desperate Jewish refugees in the 1930's who were trying to escape Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers, because they could not produce all of the complex documents or meet the discriminatory "public charge" standards required by US immigration laws at that time, the visa officers, many of them influenced by widespread US anti-semitism of that time, claimed that they were only "enforcing the law". See, U,S, Holocaust Memorial Museum:

What did Refugees Need to Obtain a US Visa in the 1930's?

https://exhibitions.ushmm.org/americans...what-did-refugees-need-to-obtain-s-us-visa...

More recently when the Trump administration tried to justify its unspeakably inhuman child separation policy of tearing young Central American children away from their asylum-seeking parents and locking the children in dog cages, before Trump was forced to abandon this cruel practice by outraged public opinion across the political spectrum, the administration made the same argument.- that it was only"enforcing the law." See George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin's June, 2018 article:

'Enforcing the Law' Doesn't Justify Separating Migrant Children from their Parents

https://reaon.com/2018/06/17/enforcing-the-law-cannot-justify-forcibl/

Ever since the period of the infamous Asian exclusion laws of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the courts have given wide latitude to the executive branch to use its discretion with regard to enforcement of the immigration laws.

There is no court decision compelling the government to deport ever single person who is in the US without authorized legal status.Moreover, as shown in a recent article by two Stanford University law professors, Jayashri Shrikantiah and Shirin Sinnar, the current emphasis on "enforcement" through mass deportation of non-white people by the Trump administration is only one of a larger program aimed at all immigrants of color, including millions of immigrants from all over the world who already have or are clearly entitled to apply for and receive legal status under our current laws.

See, Stanford Law Review, March, 2019:

White Nationalism as Immigration Policy

https://www.stanfordlawreview.org/online/white-nationalism-as-immigration-policy/

The professors write:

"It is true that neither nationality distinctions nor efforts to control immigration are new. But the President's racist statements and the breadth of the changes to immigration policy distinguish this Administration from prior efforts to restrict immigration."

I will discuss this important article in more detail in forthcoming comments.

Finally there is the fact that the Trump administration's agenda of "enforcing" the immigration laws shows an unprecedented disdain and contempt for the rule of law itself Trump's attempts to bar and deport non-white immigrants have consistently been blocked by the lower federal courts, and his notorious Muslim Ban executive order - in a greatly watered down form - so far watered down that Trump himself complained about it - was accepted by the Supreme Court only because the majority chose to close its eyes that his "national security" justification for banning 200 million people from six Muslim countries as obviously contrived and "Trumped up,"

But there are so many instances of Trump's substituting the rule of bigotry and hate for the rule of law in his immigration statements and actions - whether in his war on asylum-seekers, his attempts to skew decision-making against applicants for legal immigration permits and green cards with a blizzard of RFE's and biased denials; his plan to rig the census so that non-citizens will not be counted; his attempts to end TPS based on obvious racial motivations - as at least one federal court has ruled - that it would take a separate article or series of article to list them all.

Most recently, according to the Washington Post, Trump is planning to block any Congressional investigations of his immigration agenda. These are the actions of a tyrant, not the leader of a democratic nation.

In conclusion, 2,000 years ago, the great Roman poet Vergil (usually misspelled by academics and editors as "Virgil") in Book 1 of the Aeneid, put expressed the ideal of tolerance toward immigrants in general and Trojan refugees in particular into the mouth of the legendary Queen Dido of Carthage as follows:

vultis et his mecum pariter considere regnis?
urbem quam statuo vestra est; subducite navis;
Tros Tyriusque mihi nullo discrimine agetur


("Do you wish to live in this realm on equal terms with me? / This city I have founded is yours; pull up your ships. / To me, there is no difference between and immigrant and a citizen.")

But even as Dido announces this noble expression of equality and human rights - something that no society has ever actually reached in its immigration policies - and which is light years away from Trump's white supremacist agenda, she also warns that her nation has immigration laws and they must be enforced:

res dura et regni novitas me talia cogunt
moliri et late finis custode tueri


("Hard reality and the fact that this is a new country force me to protect it with border guards along its entire length.")

But the question is not whether America should have border guards or should enforce its immigration laws. Of course it must. Arguing that Trump's opponents want "open borders" is not a sincere or genuine position. The question is in which spirit and which purpose we are enforcing are laws.

Is this for the purpose of safe and orderly immigration which recognizes at all immigrants are human beings and have human rights in accordance with international law? Or are our immigration laws meant to be used as instruments of hatred, bigotry and white supremacy and "enforced" in that spirit?

Will America enforce its immigration laws with compassion instead of cruelty, humanity instead of hatred, and respect for the rule of law rather than pursuit of a racist, white supremacist agenda?

That is the big question for immigration policy in the Donald Trump era.


Roger Algase
Attorney at Law