Entering the Trump Ice Age: Contextualizing the New Immigration Enforcement Regime
5 Tex. A&M L.Rev. 253 (2017–2018)
69 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2017 Last revised: 3 Oct 2018
Date Written: 2017
During the early stages of the Trump ICE age, we seem to be witnessing and experiencing an unparalleled era of immigration enforcement. But is it unparalleled? Didn’t we label Barack Obama the “Deporter-in-Chief?” Wasn’t it George Bush who used the authority of the Patriot Act to round up nonimmigrants from Muslim and Arab countries and didn’t his ICE commonly engage in armed raids a factories and other worksites? Aren’t there strong parallels that can be drawn between Trump enforcement plans and actions and those of other eras?
What about the fear and hysteria that seems to really be happening in immigrant communities? Is the fear unparalleled? Why is there so much fear? Is the fear justified? Why do things seem different, in spite of rigorous immigration enforcement that has occurred even in recent years?
This article begins with a comparison of what the Trump administration has done in terms of immigration enforcement with the enforcement efforts of other administrations. For example, I compare (1) the attempted Muslim travel bans with post-9/11 efforts by George W. Bush and Iranian student roundups by Jimmy Carter, (2) the Border Wall proposal with the Fence Act of 2006 and Operation Gatekeeper in 1994, (3) restarting Secure Communities (fingerprint sharing program) with Obama’s enforcement program of the same name, (4) expanding INA § 287(g) agreements with Bush efforts under the same statute, (5) the threat of raids by an ICE deportation army with Bush gun-toting raids, (6) extreme vetting of immigrants and refugees with what already existed under Bush and Obama, (7) threatening to cut off federal funds to sanctuary cities with the prosecution of sanctuary workers in the 1980s, (8) prioritizing “criminal” immigrants with Obama’s similar prioritization, and (9) expedited removal in the interior with Bush and Obama expedited removals along the border. Then I turn to the fear and hysteria in immigrant communities that has spread throughout the country. I ask why that fear has occurred and whether the fear has a reasonable basis. I close with a personal reflection on the parallels I have seen and experienced since I began practicing immigration law as a legal services attorney in 1975 and contemplate why enforcement and the resulting fear are different today.
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