Update, July 21, 1:26 pm:

Another indication of the danger that America could turn into a country where, as in ancient Rome and many modern dictatorships, losers in political battles are not only jailed, but executed, see Washington Post, July 21:

Republican debate: Kill Hillary, or merely jail her?

(I don't have the link handy right now - please go to www.washingtonpost.com)

Just another indication of what Donald Trump and company might have in store, not just for 12 million immigrants who are in this country without authorization, but for America's democracy and the American people.

Update, July 20, 1:06 pm:

In addition to mass expulsion of unwanted foreign populations (see below), the ancient Romans, especially in the last days of the Republic (1st century B.C.) and during the Empire. were proficient at another practice that is increasingly being advocated by Donald Trump and his supporters - locking up their political opponents, beginning, but not necessarily ending with Hillary Clinton.

In ancient Rome, as well as in modern dictatorships, it was and is not uncommon for the loser in an election campaign to wind up in prison (if not with a considerably worse fate).

Is America in danger of becoming that kind of a country?

For a frightening Daily Kos report on how fascism (a word with ancient Roman origins dating from the earliest days of the Republic) could very well come to America under a Donald Trump administration that might have no compunction about locking up opponents for political reasons, see:


My original post follows below:

Donald Trump's proposal to carry out ethnic cleansing or mass expulsion of an estimated 12 million mainly Mexican and other Latin American immigrants who are currently in the US without legal status is unprecedented in US history in sheer terms of numbers (even though America has engaged in previous mass deportations of Mexican immigrants - and US citizens).

However, mass expulsion of unwanted foreign populations from a given country, albeit in smaller numbers than the one which Trump is proposing in order to thrill and excite his followers and supporters on white supremacist websites and at the Republican convention, is hardly a new concept in history. This post will be the first in a series which will look at how mass expulsion has been carried out in the past, as well as the probable motivations for it, according to historians.

I will began with examples from the ancient world, all involving expulsions of the Jews from Rome. The first of these expulsions took place in 139 B.C.

The ancient writer Valerius Maximus, who was active during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius (14-27 A.D.) writes as follows:

"During the consulship of Marcus Popillius Laenas and Gnaeus Calpurnius, the praetor for froeigners, Gnaeus Cornelius Hispanus, issued an edict ordering the Chaldaeans to leave the city and Italy within 10 days. The praetor felt that they deceived frivolous and silly people with their dishonest inrepretation of the stars and cultivated a money-making air of obscurity with their lies. The Jews had tried to corrupt Roman values with their cult of Jupiter Sabazius, so the praetor forced them to go back to their home...

Cornelius Hispanus expelled the Chaldaeans from the ciry and ordered them to leave Italy within ten days to prevent them making money out of their foreign science. The Jews had tried to pass their religion on to Romans, so Hispanus expelled them from the city and demolished their private alters in all public places."



This site interprets the terms "Chaldeans" (i.e. Mssopotamians, stemming from what was then part of present-day Iraq), as referring in the above passage to more secular or assimilated Jews, while "Jews" refers to religious, more traditional ones.

The above website also explains that Valerius Maximus most likely confused Jewish worship of Yahweh with the cult of Sabazius (Dionysus), a mistake often made by early Roman writers according to the same site.

The same site also suggests that antipathy toward the Jews (in contrast to a larger group of immigrants, Syrians, who were not expelled from Rome), may have been related to the visit to Rome of envoys of the great Jewish independence fighter Simon Maccabee three years earlier, in 142 B. C.

Based on this assumption, one could speculate that Jewish immigrants might have been perceived as a "security" threat in Rome of that period, just as, ironically, Syrians, who were not deported from ancient Rome, are perceived to be in America today, more than 2,100 years later, by Donald Trump and his Islamophobic supporters.

Two other points in the above quoted passage are worthy of note. First is the charge that the Jews had allegedly tried to "corrupt Roman values",

How often do we hear today that members of immigrant groups which are being targeted by Donald Trump, such as Muslims and Mexicans, are unable to adopt or assimilate to "American values" (a charge which also a familiar one in the history of American immigration for being made so often against other immigrant groups such as Irish, Asians, Italians, Middle Easterners, Eastern Europeans and, last but not least, Jews).

Another statement of Valerius Maximus in the above passage worth noting is that, allegedly:

"The Jews had tried to pass their religion on to Romans."

Does anyone notice a certain parallel to the current hysteria by some of Trump's supporters over the fantasy that Muslim immigrants might try to impose "Sharia Law" on the United States?

The next part of this series will look at some of the statements that Ovid, one of the greatest poets of all time in any country or civilization and the author of the incomparably beautiful, immortal work Metamorphoses, had to say about the Jews, which also reflected Roman attitudes toward Jewish immigrants around the same time as Valerius Maximus, with whom Ovid was roughly a contemporary.

Ovid, ironically, was also expelled from Rome even though he was a native-born Roman citizen - by Tiberius' predecessor, Emperor Augustus, for what Ovid referred to as carmen et errorr (a poem - no doubt one of the erotic verses that Ovid is still famous for 2,000 years later - and a "mistake" the exact nature of which historians are still not clear about).

Ovid's own exile, so far as is known, had nothing whatsoever to do with any writings about the Jews, which, as will be explained, appear to reflect negative Roman stereotypes toward the Jews that were current in his time.

But in his heartbreaking series Tristia and many other exile poems, Ovid wrote eloquently about the sufferings and hardship of being deported in words that even today give at least some sense of what Donald Trump has in store for 12 million minority immigrants and their families in America.

To be continued in Part 2.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 35 years, beginning in 1978 (A.D.), he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards. Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com