"Fascist" is a highly charged pejorative word, which is all too frequently bandied about as an insult used to indicate that someone strongly disagrees with the targeted person's views. Normally, using this term adds little or nothing to any serious discussion of immigration or any other issues.

Just as I believe that insulting and pejorative terms against immigrants (or their families), such as "illegal aliens" or "anchor babies" or even "amnesty" (instead of "legalization", or "deferred action") should be avoided at all costs, I also believe that the word "fascist" should be used only as an extreme last resort.

Normally, I prefer to use the more neutral (and politically correct) term "authoritarian" instead.

But Trump's latest proposal, as reported in the Miami Herald, to try American citizens accused of supporting terrorism before military tribunals at Guantanamo, instead of in regular courts as mandated by this country's laws and Constitution, is so extreme and dangerous to our democracy that I am constrained to use the word "fascist" in order to set off alarm bells.

Imagine what could happen to any and all of us here in America if Donald Trump is elected president, and the repression and disregard for basic human and legal rights that he has long been advocating against immigrants (see the excellent and exhaustive article by a professor and constitutional law expert cited below) are turned against American citizens as well.

First, lest anyone accuse me of misquoting or distorting Trump's comments, I will quite them exactly as reported in the Miami Herald. See:

Trump says Americans charged with terrorism could be tried in Guantanamo


The Herald quotes Trump as follows:

"Asked about Guantanamo in the past, Trump has said he would 'like to load it up with bad dudes'. He wouln't specify to the Herald whether as president he would again allow terrorism subjects captured abroad to be transferred to the center.

'I want to make sure that if we have radical Islamic terrorists, we have a very safe place to keep them', he said."

The above quote, obviously, is ambiguous about whether Trump would send foreign citizens accused of terrorism or terrorist sympathies to Guantanamo specifically, as opposed to some other location.

Bur when asked the same question about what he would do with American citizens accused of the sane thing, Trump had no such ambiguities, according to the above report:

"'Would you try to get the military commissions - the trial court there [at Guantanamo] - to try US citizens?' a reporter asked.

'Well, I know they want to try them in our regular court systems, and I don't like that at all. I don't like that at all...I would say they could be tried there [at Guantanamo], that would be fine.'"

Why is this proposal so dangerous? Aren't we already used to the fact that Trump has problems with the US Constitution, especially when the rights of immigrants are involved?

In this regard, see the comprehensive and detailed article by Political Science Professor Corey Brettscneider, who teaches Constitutional Law at Brown University, entitled:

Donald Trump vs. the Constitution: A guide


The danger in Trump's above statement is that, if he becomes president, he can easily call anyone who disagrees with or opposes him on any issue or for any reason a "terrorist" or charge the person with "supporting terrorism", as dictators have done the world over to silence and intimidate their opponents, and then haul him or her off to Guantanamo to be tried (perhaps many years after being charged - see the above cited Miami Herald full story), or perhaps to be held indefinitely without charges or a trial of any sort.

By now, Trump has become even more famous for lashing out vindictively, if not violently, at his opponents or anyone who disagrees with him than he is for his failed or troubled business ventures such as Trump Airline, Trump Taj Mahal and - oh yes, I almost left it out - Trump University. His attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel and Gold Star parent and immigrant Khizr Khan, Esq. are only two recent examples among many, many others.

Anyone who thinks that there could be limits on whom Trump might choose to label a "terrorist" need only refer to the latest news stories about Trump's calling both President Obama and Hillary Clinton "founders" of ISIS.



And what else might Trump do to any political opponent or critic whom he might choose to label a "terrorist" and send off to Guantanamo for "trial"? Don't forget that Trump has also insisted that it would be just fine to torture "terrorists" - and not just with that namby-pamby waterboarding stuff either. Trump has made crystal clear that he wants to use the real thing.

See:The Hill: Trump calls for a 'hell of a lot worse than waterboarding' (February 6)


Then, without any doubt, America, and the American people, would learn what fascism in action really means, right here in our own country.

The deprivations of fundamental legal and human rights that Trump has been proposing in one form or another since the beginning of his presidential campaign (as described in Professor Brettschneider's above cited article), may have begun with his attacks on immigrants. But as Trump's above statement advocating Guantanamo military court trials for US citizens makes clear, they do not end with immigrants.

The fundamental rights of immigrants are also the rights of those of us who happen to be US citizens. When the rights of immigrants are taken away, the rights and freedoms that we hold sacred as Americans will not remain with us for very much longer either.

This is the lesson that we can learn from Donald Trump.

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 obtain work permits and green cards

Roger believes that protecting the fundamental legal and human rights of immigrants, no matter what their status (or lack of status) may be, is essential to safeguarding the rights of American citizens as well, and to preserving our democracy against the threat of authoritarian rule.

His email address is algaselex@gmail.com