No one should underestimate the danger to immigrant human rights, and our entire immigration system, that America faced during the four dark years of the Trump-Miller regime. While the media and politicians today are focusing on specific immigration issues only, such as the attempts by right wing judges to force President Biden to reinstate Trump's bigoted and inhuman "Remain in Mexico" policy against brown-skinned asylum seekers, it is easy to overlook the fact that Trump and Miller tried to destroy all, or almost all, of our legal immigration system.

Trump not only called legal immigration "horrible" (referring specifically to family-based immigration) but even threatened at one point to shut down all legal immigration by executive order.

It is also easy to forget that the ultimate goal of the Trump-Miller agenda was not only to eliminate most or all legal immigration, but also to destroy the Constitutional guarantee of birthright US citizenship. This would have rendered millions of nonwhite American citizens stateless, without rights, and subject to either deportation or indefinite internment, as in a fascist sate rather than a democratic one.

And these mortal threats to the human rights of mainly non-white immigrants (and their US-born children) are not just past history. There can be little doubt that Trump is planning to run for president again in 2024 so that he and Miller can complete the destruction of America's legal immigration system that they began during Trump's previous term in office.

And if Trump doesn't run again, it is highly likely that a "little" Trump, such as Florida Governor De Santis or Texas governor Abbott, who are virulently opposed to non-white immigration (no reference to their opposition to protection against coronavirus which is devastating their own citizens intended!), will run instead.

THerefore, any discussion of immigration must take place against the background of the threat to America's entire system of democracy which we are now seeing on many fronts. To give only one example, can we expect governors and state legislators who are doing everything in their power to prevent American citizens of color from voting to show any respect for the humanity or human rights of non-white immigrants?

Two political science professors, Jacob M. Grumbach of the University of Washington, and Eric Schickler, of UC Berkeley, blame the executive branch, the Supreme Court and state legislators, historically and at present, for threatening the very existence of American democracy. They argue that it is up to Congress to save it.

https://thehill.com/opinion/civil-rights/570055-in-civil-rights-and-american-democracy-congress-role-looms-large

While their article doesn't mention immigration, the authors' focus on the way that the above institutions have rolled back the rights of US citizens of color and threatened our multiracial democracy is obviously relevant to protecting the civil and human rights of immigrants. If America turns into a dictatorship, as it very likely may if Donald Trump or one of his followers takes over the White House again, our current immigration system, which is, at least in theory based on human rights, equality and racial justice, will quickly disappear.

America would then turn back to the days of the US 1924 Europeans-only national origins quota immigration act that was based on the idea of white racial superiority, which gave rise to the European fascist movement. In his recently leaked emails, Trump's immigration Torquemada or Grand Inquisitor, Stephen Miller, reportedly expressed admiration for the 1924 law.

The above two professors look to Congress to save our democracy. But is this justified as long as the Republican party, which has currently been the main instrument of both white supremacist immigration policies and of the attack on our democracy, has the power to block any Congressional action to preserve our democracy or protect immigrants' human rights?

I will discuss this issue in more detail in Part 2 of this 2-part series.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard College A.B.
Harvard Law School LL.B