It's a disaster. A total disaster.
As the media circus surrounding Trump’s immigration policies, such as the Muslim Ban, and the resultant disaster dies down, as the protests subside, and papers sit on a judge’s desk somewhere awaiting trial, as the world’s fickle attention span shifts towards other matters, the real cost begins to set in. And this is what we can expect for the next four years: a media circus surrounding some audacious proposal by our tweeter-in-chief, followed by another circus and protests. Meanwhile, immigrants and their families left in the aftermath get to pick up the pieces.
I had an opportunity to speak with an attorney who specializes in immigration law, the talented Sonya Peterkin, and no, the aftermath is not pretty.
In addition to trying to stop non-white, non-Christians from entering the country, Trump’s immigration agenda includes several policies aimed at making life miserable for those immigrants already here.
For starters, he’s enlisted the aid of local & state law enforcement officers to perform immigration functions, by reinstating the 287(g) program. In a nutshell, this means the job of detainment and deportation of individuals could now be in the hands of local police – the same ones who already seem to have difficulty carrying out the law justly to people of color. Because of this, immigrants and Muslims (note the distinction) in many communities are afraid of the police. And rightly so; there’s been a massive uptick in harassment and profiling across the US at the hands of police and customs agents, who more often than not don’t know the laws, or don’t know or care that people have rights.
Additionally, under Trump’s immigration plan, removal priorities have been expanded. Previously, priorities for removals were targeted towards immigrants and visa holders convicted for serious offenses. But now, one could be deported for just about any crime or minor offense, even those unrelated to immigration such as committing fraud to obtain a government benefit like food stamps, for example.
Finally, there’s the expedited removal policy. Previously, this policy allowed customs agents at the border to send back anyone trying to enter the US by fraud or without valid documentation, at or near the border, who cannot show they’ve been living in the U.S. for at least two years. Now, it applies to anyone apprehended anywhere in the US. The clincher of this is that under this process, a human being is deported without an opportunity to see an immigration judge.
Put all of this together, and mix in a resounding lack of measures to protect people against racial profiling and violation of civil rights, and you have the cesspool that is Trump’s immigration policy. There’s been a wave of new harassment, especially at airports, including the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who was detained at the Ft Lauderdale airport and grilled about his Islamic-sounding name and religion. Even naturalized US citizens, especially Muslims, are often afraid of being detained or deported, or seeing their families deported, or simply harassed, such as with Khizr Khan, the infamous gold-star father who confronted Trump during the election, a naturalized US citizen of thirty years who reports being told his travel privileges are inexplicably under review.
People are afraid to interact with the police for fear of being detained, harassed, or deported, which has the frightening effect of making our communities less safe.
Trump’s immigration policy is a total disaster.
Sonya Peterkin is a graduate of FAMU, and the Founder and Managing Attorney of the Law Office of S.A. Peterkin. Herself a daughter of immigrants, she now specializes in immigration and family law.