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Stephen Miller Planning the Great Purge: Recruit ‘Red State’ Deportation Army To Round Up Immigrants, Rip Them from Their Homes and Community, and Forcibly Deport Them

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Fringe sheriffs who believe they’re totally unaccountable to any state or federal authority hosted a right-wing conference in Las Vegas last week, where they made explicit calls for vigilante gangs “to patrol polling stations and stop the ‘expected flood’ of ‘illegal’ immigrant voters,” WIRED reports. Of course, this is a non-existent issue: non-citizen voting is already illegal and is a “vanishingly rare” occurrence. This bogus claim of non-citizen voter fraud is instead being used by the right-wing to sow doubt and distrust in our electoral process should the election not go its way in November. 

But what also shouldn’t get lost is that this dangerous and racist push by so-called “constitutional sheriffs” to form mobs to harass individuals they perceive to be undocumented immigrants over something that isn’t happening is a preview of the “red state” deportation army sought by noted white nationalist Stephen Miller should indicted former President Donald Trump return to the White House in January 2025. Key to this cruel effort to purge long-settled immigrants from the United States will be collaboration from local law enforcement, as explicitly stated by Trump himself. 

In February, when Fox News host Laura Ingraham questioned how he would carry out his horrific vision, Trump replied that he would find and deport immigrants “through local police … they know everything. They know the first names, they know everything.”

A potential second Trump administration would also seek to “requisition National Guard troops from sympathetic Republican-controlled states and then deploy them into Democratic-run states whose governors refuse to cooperate with their deportation drive,” as Ron Brownstein wrote at The Atlantic in February. We already know sympathetic states would comply with Miller’s mass deportation vision without hesitation since many have already been collaborating with Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s anti-immigrant crackdown under orders from Trump. “We encourage all willing States to deploy their guards to Texas to prevent the entry of Illegals, and to remove them back across the Border,” Trump said.

GOP governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, West Virginia’s Jim Justice, Tennessee’s Bill Lee, South Carolina’s Henry McMaster, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, Iowa’s Kim Reynolds, Arkansas’ Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin (see a full list of participating governors here) have deployed their state troops to assist in Texas’ Operation Lone Star, an expensive, ineffective, and deadly policy attacking migrants, including those seeking asylum.

“Miller’s plans for the National Guard and Trump’s plan for local police seem far-fetched to some,” America’s Voice Senior Research Director Zachary Mueller wrote in his analysis of the Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025. “But Jessica Pishko, who studies right-wing sheriffs and is writing a book on sheriffs and democracy, made an important point when [columnist] Philip Bump tried to downplay Trump’s ability to put together a deportation force. ‘Sheriffs can summon anyone they want into their posse, no background check or certification required. Trump has been rallying sheriffs to his cause since 2016!’ And many of them have been among his most ardent supporters.”

Just look at the Trump administration’s record for confirmation. The Washington Post reported in 2021 that the administration “aggressively recruited sheriffs” to participate in 287(g), a controversial and flawed program that allows local police to act as federal immigration agents and has resulted in widespread racial profiling. Just under three dozen sheriff’s departments were a part of the program when former President Barack Obama left office. But under Trump, the program experienced a resurgence, attracting law enforcement officers with disturbing ties to notorious anti-immigrant hate groups.

“Under Trump, the number of partners in 287(g) and a related program quadrupled, from about 35 in 2017 to more than 140 earlier this year,” The Post reported. “About 15 are sheriffs who have been publicly linked to FAIR, which has been described by pro-immigration groups and others as an anti-immigrant organization. FAIR has disputed that characterization.” 

Oh please. FAIR can dispute the characterization all it wants, but the record is also pretty clear about its friends. “FAIR leaders have ties to white supremacist groups and eugenicists and have made many racist statements,” said the Southern Poverty Law Center. “FAIR’s founder, the late John Tanton, has expressed his wish that America remain a majority-white population: a goal to be achieved, presumably, by limiting the number of nonwhites who enter the country.” FAIR isn’t just an anti-immigrant group; it’s an anti-immigrant hate group.

For Miller, police associated with these extremist organizations – and those in attendance at the recent event in Las Vegas – are dream recruits for his deportation army. Harassing people of color has been a lifelong mission for him, as reported by Univision in 2017. “Univision Noticias spoke with several classmates who said Miller had few friends, none of them non-white. They said he used to make fun of the children of Latino and Asian immigrants who did not speak English well.” In the White House, Miller was a key figure behind some of the administration’s most cruel anti-immigrant policies, including family separation.

“Bob Songer from Klickitat County in Washington state, another Constitutional Sheriff who also spoke at the event, told the audience that he already had a ‘posse’ of 150 deputized citizens,” WIRED continued in its report on the Las Vegas gathering. “He also shared a guide with other sheriffs on how to build their own ‘posse,’ including a 32-page guide on policies and procedures, reviewed by WIRED.”

Another Trump term won’t be anything like we’ve seen. As Brownstein notes, “Miller has outlined much more explicit and detailed plans than Trump ever did in 2016 about how the administration would implement such a deportation program in a second term.” He intends to fulfill that vision with his red state deportation army, devastating millions of immigrants, key industries, and our national economy. “What this means,” America’s Voice legal advisor David Leopold told Brownstein, “is that the communities that are heavily Hispanic or Black, those marginalized communities are going to be living in absolute fear of a knock on the door, whether or not they are themselves undocumented. What he’s describing is a terrifying police state, the pretext of which is immigration.”