Doing Away With Due Process?

Terry H. Schwadron

June 26, 2018

In his apparent need to keep ratcheting up his anti-immigrant fervor, President Trump explicitly advocated depriving undocumented immigrants of their due-process rightsin weekend tweets, arguing that people who cross the border into the United States illegally are “invaders” and must immediately be deported without trial or an appearance before a judge.

Apart from the obvious confusion this may cause for lawmakers and even Republican congressional candidates, this is an outrageous expression of an authoritarian presidency.

Again, only Trump apparently can decide what is worth a trial. As he continues to refer to immigrants as “animals,” an epithet he then tried to limit to gang members, or forces that will “infest” the United States, Trump’s remarks belie a less-than-human understanding of those fleeing from Central American violence.

Even as his administration struggles under the weight of images of immigrant children held in cages and scrambles to create an orderly process for family re-unification, these latest tweets simply confirm what we understand about Trump: He holds a special enmity for immigrants of color, for Muslims, for the poor.

He may not see himself as racist, but he sure is acting like one.

Worse, he spouts his propaganda in the name of preserving American values, just as he is trampling on those very values.

Meanwhile, immigration officials are offering migrants in detention the option of reuniting with their children if they elect to voluntarily leave the country. Parents who sign voluntary departure orders, an administration official told CNN, can choose to be reunited with their kids before being deported. According to MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff, many whose children were taken from them chose to sign the paperwork.

Meanwhile, reports from the border yesterday were that the head of the immigration and customs enforcement agency was ordering a temporary halt to “zero-tolerance,” because there is no place to house migrant families, in effect enacting the same “catch and release” policies that Trump has been eviscerating. At the very same time, Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions was continuing to insist in a speech in Nevada that the government was committed to zero-tolerance.

Apart from confused policy-making, this administration is simply confused.

Even after instructing Republicans to forgo any legislative effort until after a “red wave” strikes in the November mid-terms, returning what he thinks will be a united and expanded Trump-Republican party to run majorities in both congressional houses, Congress plans to move ahead with votes on an approach to immigration. Passage remained in question because different factions of Republicans support differing versions of how restrictive immigration laws should be.

Still, a narrower version of a bill that would solely address separation of migrant children from parents also remains on the congressional docket for this week.

In his tweets, Trump described immigrants as invaders, called U.S. immigration laws “a mockery” and wrote that they must be changed to take away legal rights from undocumented migrants.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” Trump wrote. “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents.”

Trump added, “Our Immigration policy, laughed at all over the world, is very unfair to all of those people who have gone through the system legally and are waiting on line for years! Immigration must be based on merit — we need people who will help to Make America Great Again!”

My question to the president: Why stop there? You want to jail Hillary Clinton for bad email policy, and James Comey for leaking information that was unclassified. You want to send FBI Peter Strzok to jail for having personal political leanings (against you), but you freed Scooter Libby who actually was convicted for leaking classified material. You want to totally dominate the Supreme Court, substituting your slogans for any form of reasoning. Why stop with eliminating 200 years of American jurisprudence at the border?

Perhaps it is time for you to emerge with your true agenda, to dispense with all environmental rules, all work-hour and labor laws, all consumer protection legislation, all social service spending, and declare you a for-life monarch. Why not just declare yourself judge and jury — and king. That pesky Constitution seems such an unneeded document used by your predecessors.

I used to find the attempts of some in the Resistance who have followed each of your actions as foundational to authoritarianism as overreaction. Now I am not so sure.

This disregard for actual adjudication of legal amnesty pleas is a blatant and unlawful usurpation of rights not extended to the executive branch of government.

If no one at the White House or Congress will tell you so, let’s hope that voters do.

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terryschwadron.wordpress.com

Journalist, musician, community volunteer