Immigration Enforcement in America’s Past and in the Age of Trump

Two new books, Threat of Dissent by Julia Rose Kraut and Separated: Inside an American Tragedy by Jacob Soboroff, illuminate the history of immigration and how immigrants are being treated in America today.

In Threat of Dissent Julia Rose Kraut details America’s fear of foreigners and its history of excluding and deporting non-citizens because of their ideas and beliefs.  The Alien Friends Act of 1798 allowed a president to detain and deport any noncitizen deemed “dangerous to the peace and security of the United States.” Kraut traces how different ideologies were considered dangerous according to the fears of different eras. Anarchism gave way to Communism; and Communism in turn gave way to to Islamic radicalism. After being elected, Trump immediately announced a travel ban upon visitors from Muslim countries.  And though it was challenged for more than a year, a revised version was upheld with a 5-4 ruling by the Supreme Court.

But Separated by Jacob Soboroff, a news correspondent for MSNBC and NBC focuses on the tragedy of the here and now.  Soboroff was reporting from the southern border when he discovered that the Trump administration had been separating children from their migrant parents.  This humanitarian disaster was compounded by such poor record-keeping that authorities couldn’t keep track of which children belonged to whom.  Since the summer of 2017 at least 5,556 children have been taken from their parents – the true number is still unknown.  The American Academy of Pediatrics called separation “government-sanctioned child abuse”; the nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights called it “torture.”

Read together Threat of Dissent and Separated: Inside an American Tragedy make it clear that the United States, a country that prides itself on its constitutional protections, also possesses a body of immigration laws that can be abused by its executive branch – as we’re tragically seeing now  with Trump in the White House.

An Alert from the U.S. Committee For Refugees and Immigrants

The current Administration apparently thinks we are not paying attention.  They think the American people are too busy with the COVID-19 pandemic to notice the gross violation of child-welfare standards and immigrations laws being perpetrated at our border.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) is pushing back against the Administration’s flagrant violation of the law and its callous disregard for international human rights.   The need is urgent:

It recently came out that the Department of Homeland Security is allowing a private contractor to detain immigrant children in hotels, in some cases for weeks.  Children as young as one year old are being detained illegally and cared for by contractors with unknown credentials.  The children are then sent back to their home countries without the opportunity to seek asylum or join family members already in the U.S.

This is a flagrant violation of federal anti-trafficking laws and it places children at great risk of harm.. By law, children who entered the U.S. unaccompanied by an adult must be released into the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement for placement into licensed shelters staffed by childcare professionals.

The Administration is openly defying the Supreme Court’s ruling protecting DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals).  This past week USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced that it would limit DACA renewals to one year instead of the usual two and would not accept new DACA applications.  These actions flout both the Supreme Court decision in June and a federal judge’s ruling last month.  We assume this tactic is designed to make it easier for the Administration to deport DACA recipients if President Trump wins re-election.

Contact USCRI at or (703) 310-1130 to donate in support of their work.  The need is urgent.





New Netflix Documentary Focuses on Immigration Enforcement

“Immigration Nation,” a six-hour Netflix series three years in the making,  gives a nuanced close-up look at immigrants and their treatment.  Reporting and observation show ICE agents in New York, Charlotte, N.C., and El Paso as they round up immigrants, process them – mainly for deportation – and talk about their work. According to The New York Times review, “Immigration Nation’ provides abundant evidence for things that some might call fake news, like the determination of ICE, under the Trump administration to remove immigrants in bulk regardless of whether they pose any danger . . . . But what sticks with you . . . is its depiction of the banality of deportation – of the huge disconnect between the everyday people of ICE and the Border Patrol and the everyday people they detain, arrest and process.”