Ever since Donald Trump became a candidate for president, I have been warning on this site that his ultimate goal was ultimate power, and that his agenda of scapegoating and stirring up animosity against Latino, Muslim, African, Asian and other non-white immigrants was only his stepping stone to setting up a one-man dictatorship in America - just as Adolf Hitler overthrew democracy and became the absolute Fuehrer in Germany by exploiting hatred against the Jews.

While Trump is certainly not a follower of Hitler or anti-Jewish, and clearly does not advocate or support mass murder or genocide, nothing that has happened so far during his presidency has provided any reason to change my above opinion about the danger he poses to US democracy.

To the contrary, Trump's latest claim that he is completely about the law with regard to any potential charges of obstruction of justice or other wrongdoing in connection with the Mueller investigations, is a direct outgrowth of the claim that he has been making in the federal courts ever since he took over as presiddent that he has absolute power to determine which immigrants can enter the United States in connection with his Muslim Ban executive orders.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on that claim shortly, and its ruling could have momentous consequences which go far beyond the "narrow" issue of whether "only" 200 million people from a handful of middle eastern and African countries can be barred from entering the United States purely because of their religion.

Because the Muslim Ban case goes to the heart of the issue of presidential power, the result of the ruling could, conceivably, make Trump the absolute dictator of this country, not only with regard to immigration, but in all aspects of our government as well. To put it in slightly different words, the Supreme Court could not only give Trump the power he is claiming to "close up our country" against immigrants, but to close up our democracy for the American people as well.

I will ask readers to bear with me briefly in making a brief digression from discussing only immigration issues in order to summarize the acute danger that America is now facing of losing its democracy over Trump's claims of absolute power to obstruct justice, even to the extent of pardoning himself for any possible criminal conduct. I will then show that these claims of absolute dictatorial power are the direct outgrowth of his claims of total presidential power over immigration in the Muslim Ban cases.

One of the clearest and most succinct summaries of the danger to democracy inherent in Trump's claim that he is totally above the law with regard to the Mueller investigations and presidential power to issue pardons comes, not from a lawyer (let's face it - our profession is not universally known for its clear and concise writing) but from a journalist, Will Bunch, writing on June 3 in the Philadelphia Inquirer. I quote from his article

The week Trump went full dictator and no one tried to stop him


"Each Trump pardon - technically legal, even as they obliterate any sense of process or fairness, lowers our resistance for the day when Trump may offer a pardon to players in the scandals surrounding his own 2016 presidential campaign or his close allies...

lawyers are now out there openly saying they believe the president of the United States is above the law...

is wearing down the American people, one lie at a time. He is chipping away at the notion of what constitutes American justice, one crony pardon at a time. And he is eroding the foundation of our democracy, to make it so weak that by the time he makes his inevitable move to nullify the Mueller investigation, the remaining frayed house of cards may be too weak to fight back."

While a purist might raise some questions over Bunch's use of mixed metaphors - a house of cards collapses rather than fights for example - no one could argue that he fails to make his point clearly. But what does the above have to do with immigration?

The answer is that it has everything to do with immigration.

The very first of Trump's notorious uses of the pardon power to abuse the criminal justice system for purely ideological purposes was in the case of the immigrant-hating former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who once (quite accurately) boasted that he held his Latino immigrant detainees in "concentration-camp" like conditions.


But it is with the Muslim Ban orders that Trump's claim to the absolute power which threatens to destroy America's democracy got its most powerful impetus, as attorney and former Supreme Court law clerk Richard Bernstein explains in a May 14 opinion piece in The Hill:

In travel ban decision, don't enable Trump to close our country


Bernstein begins

"If the Supreme Court approves President Trump's travel ban, he will likely consider himself free to dismantle our entire structure of immigration law unilaterally. He has said so repeatedly in recent weeks, even warning on May 5 that 'we may have to close up our country to get this straight.'"

And the same writer concludes:

"President Trump has told us how he'd use the principle that a president has broad and unilateral power to ban immigration and travel, notwithstanding statutory provisions that permit entry. He signaled he would use this 'loaded weapon' to 'close up our country', or, at least, unilaterally override 'the worst immigration laws in the history of mankind'.

Nothing in the Constitution or any statute passed by Congress compels the Supreme Court to hand this loaded weapon to President Trump and all future presidents. To the contrary, its now up to the court to defend the Constitution and deny Trump's overreach on immigration. If not, President Trump has told us that the travel ban would only be the beginning."

As Will Bunch summarizes so clearly above, Trump's claim to be entitled to absolute power goes far beyond just immigration. But if the Supreme Court grants him what would amount to total dictatorship over immigration, no one who has been following Trump's claims to be a law unto himself with regard to the Mueller investigation and use of the presidential pardon power can have the slightest doubt that he will use his "Supreme Authority" with regard to immigration as justification for becoming America's Supreme Leader in every other other area as well.

Bernstein's above warning that "the travel ban would only be the beginning" deserves to be taken in the widest possible sense.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, Roger has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants from diverse parts of the world receive work visas and green cards.

Roger's practice is concentrated mainly in the areas of H-1B specialty occupation, O-1 extraordinary ability and J-1 trainee visas, as well as green cards through labor certification and marriage or other family relationships. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com