In last November’s “Autocracy: Rules for Survival”, Masha Gessen noted, “I have lived in autocracies most of my life, and have spent much of my career writing about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. I have learned a few rules for surviving in an autocracy and salvaging your sanity and self-respect. It might be worth considering them now.” Gessen’s first rule begins:
“Rule #1: Believe the autocrat. He means what he says. Whenever you find yourself thinking, or hear others claiming, that he is exaggerating, that is our innate tendency to reach for a rationalization.”
As we’ve watched Donald Trump’s transition unfold, we have found every reason to believe that Trump meant what he said about immigration during his Presidential campaign. After all, his most recent actions leading up to his inauguration later this week match his words.
Trump Nominated Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III For Attorney General
Earlier this month, Trump nominated Jeff Sessions, arguably the most anti-immigrant voice in the Senate, as the next Attorney General. Sessions’ racial and civil rights views helped tank his judicial nomination in 1986, and his recent refusal to disavow his ties to extreme anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant organizations during his recent confirmation hearings should raise the alarm that his dangerous views have not changed.
As David Leopold stated in his post, Five Chilling Ways Senator Jeff Sessions Could Attack Immigrants as Attorney General:
The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) to be U.S. Attorney General is a clear and ominous sign that President-elect Donald Trump fully intends to make good on his call for mass deportation, registration of Muslims and radical restrictions on legal immigration.
Trump’s Ongoing Obsession With “The Wall”
During his press conference last week, Trump doubled-down on his campaign promise to build a wall along the US/Mexico border: “I could wait about a year-and-a-half until we finish our negotiations with Mexico, which will start immediately after we get to office,” he said. “But I don’t want to wait… We’re going to start building.”
While the American public opposes the idea of a wall — support actually dropped once Trump endorsed the fringe idea back in June 2015 — it has been a mainstay of his campaign. And, it appears he plans to make good on his promise. From CNN:
“Trump’s transition team has signaled to congressional Republican leaders that his preference is to fund the border wall through the appropriations process as soon as April.”
Trump Vowed Immediate Executive Action On “Border Security”
In a recent interview with Times of London, Trump vowed to take immediate executive action on border security after his inauguration. “We’re gonna go very strong borders from the day I get in,” he said. “One of the first orders I’m gonna sign…is gonna be strong borders.”
As the chief executive, and with a Republican Congress behind him, Trump has the power to continue expanding already-vast border enforcement. As Richard Reich recently noted, the federal government already “spends $3.7 billion per year to keep some 21,000 Border Patrol agents on guard and another $3.2 billion on 23,000 inspectors at ports of entry along the border, a third of which is already walled or fenced off.”
Trump Has Stacked His White House Team With Extremists
Former Breitbart head Steve Bannon, whose ties to white nationalism and fear mongering over a diversifying America are well established, was recently given a senior White House role by Trump.
As we noted before, Under Bannon’s leadership, “Breitbart’s publishing strategy turned to one that has made it the media arm of the racist Alternative-Right movement, publishing articles promoting popular white nationalist tropes such as ‘black on white crime’ and that ‘rape culture’ is inherent in Islam,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
And the leading lights of the anti-immigrant movement, such as Kris Kobach, have newfound responsibilities and powers to staff and shape the direction of the new Administration.
Kobach’s extreme views and radical beliefs about the nation’s immigrant and Latino families have been widely documented, in addition to also being notoriously extreme on other issues, like LGBTQ equality and the voting rights of communities of color.
Trump Has Made No Concrete Plans To Protect DACA Or Dreamers
Despite bipartisan support for the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Trump has not backed off of his early campaign promise to end the program on day one of his Presidency.
Trump recently made a vague attempt to reassure those concerned about the fate of DREAMers, saying, “We’re going to work something out that’s going to make people happy and proud.” But as Frank Sharry stated last December:
“Before anyone falls into the trap of believing that Trump is ‘softening’ on immigration, they should remember that we’ve seen this movie before. Recall that Trump’s supposed ‘softening’ this summer was followed by his darkest and most nativist immigration speech in Phoenix.”
And in Congress, Trump will have willing anti-immigrant allies. The House Judiciary Committee’s SubCommittee on Immigration is now chaired by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) whose notoriety matches that of Pete Wilson.
Sensenbrenner authored the 2006 law that spurred massive protests across the nation. As Frank Sharry told the Washington Times:
“He’s got quite a track record,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a leading advocacy group. “His anti-immigrant bill, which bore his name, led to the biggest protests in modern American history. It will tough for him to top that but, given the propensity for GOP overreach, I’m guessing he will.”