2022 has been a very hot year for America, not only because of unchecked global warming, but because our democracy is in increasing danger of becoming engulfed by the flames of right wing dictatorship on many different fronts. The Supreme Court, controlled by 6-3 (occasionally 5-4) majority of right wing "Justices" has been engaged in rampant injustice by tearing down a half century of precedent upholding the basic human right of a woman to the control of her own body by overturning Roe v. Wade, one of the most essential pillars of our democracy.

The same right wing court is now threatening to eliminate the rights to same sex marriage and even, possibly, interracial marriage, turning America back to the not so distant time when open hatred and discrimination against LGBT people and non-white citizens (and immigrants) was the law of the land. In the immigration area, right wing federal judges, many of them appointed by Trump, have consistently blocked attempts by the Biden administration to inject at least some measure of humanity into America's border policies. These judges, with the collusion of the right wing Supreme Court majority, have forced the administration to keep the Crimes Against Humanity known as "Remain in Mexico" and "Tittle 42" in place.

But the above, serious as they are, are by no means the most gravest threat to our democracy. That belongs to Donald Trump's ongoing campaign to overturn our election system and replace it by one in which a small minority of Republican politicians placed in control of state legislatures through undemocratic means such as gerrymandering and voter suppression, would have the power to disregard the will of their states' voters and appoint their own presidential electors.

In addition to trying to overthrow democracy by manipulating the electoral system, Trump and his supporters have shown themselves willing and eager to engage in the overthrow of our democracy by force and violence, based on the tried and true fascist technique of the Big LIe, known as the "Stolen Election" of 2022.

As former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich writes in the July 24 issue of The Guardian:

"The [January 6, 2021] committee has produced history's most detailed account of an American president's cruel and seditious pursuit of power. Even now, Trump continues to push states to alter the outcomes of the 2020 election.

Will it be enough to stop Trump's ongoing attempted coup? That depends on whether Americans heed the committee's implicit plea to ensure that American democracy endures."

But, immigrants and immigration advocates may ask, what does all this have to do with immigration? Immigrants don't vote in American elections anyway.

Shouldn't immigrants and their supporters continue to focus on the issues that affect them most immediately, such as the unconscionable USCIS backlogs in filing and adjudicating petitions applications for work permission, green cards and other immigration benefits; not to mention the continuing blizzard of RFE's and reports of horrendous brutality against detained immigrants - especially immigrants of color?

Don't immigrants have enough to worry about without getting involved in larger issues, such as whether America's democracy will survive?

To answer to those questions, it is enough to look at what happened to our immigration system while Trump was still in power. During that period, Trump and his chief immigration Torquemada, Stephen Miller, tried to shut down most. if not all, of our legal immigration system.

They tried to redefine the term "specialty occupation" in a way that would have made it all but impossible for all but a very few H-1B petitions to be approved. They tried to redefine the long standing "Public Charge" rules to make it difficult or impossible for the overwhelming majority of immigrants, especially those from nonwhite countries.("shithole" countries, to use Trump's terminology), to obtain green cards.

And those are only two of dozens, if not hundreds, of other actions that Trump and Miller took to try to dismantle America's legal immigration system. But beyond the specific threats to immigration that would be inevitable if Trump. or one of his supporters, were to occupy the White House in the future (this time free of any democratic constraints or checks and balances), there is the fundamental lesson of history that immigration in general depends on a free, open society based on the principle of multiracial democracy.

To be continued in Part 2 of this 2-part series.

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