May 24, 2024

Source: Bigstock

Donald Trump, always interesting if not obsessively cogent, says that he will deport perhaps twenty million illegal aliens if again elected. Can he? Legally, of course, Trump is in the right. The illegals are in the country illegally and the law clearly says that they may be deported. Polls show that a great many Americans favor the idea. The question is one of practicality. Can ten or twenty millions actually be deported, given the realities, political, legal and social of today?

Supporters of deportation point to Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback in 1954 in which over a million illegal Mexicans were deported. It was done then, deportistas say, and can be done now. But…can it?

This is not 1954. Nineteen percent of the country consists of Latinos, who outnumber whites in California, are an absolute majority in Texas, have heavy support from the Democrat party, academia, the media, and wield economic and electoral power. The great majority of Latinos are citizens. How all of this would play out in the face of mass deportation of illegals isn’t clear, but 1954 it isn’t. For example, would California assist? Or resist?

While any one illegal can be deported, the legal and procedural hindrances seem so great as to make bulk ejection impractical. This manual, apparently written by an immigration’s attorney, gives detailed instructions to Latinos on how to handle ICE agents at work, at home, in public spaces, and so on. For example, you can request a lawyer, you have the right to remain silent, you specifically do not have to answer questions about your immigration’s status or country of origin, you can ask whether you are under arrest and if not, you can walk away. Example from manual:

“1: Know your rights during home visits. ICE agents generally need a warrant signed by a judge to enter your home. A warrant is a legal document that specifies the areas to be searched and the individuals or items to be seized. Ask the ICE agent to slide the warrant under the door or hold it up to a window, allowing you to inspect it. Make sure the warrant is signed by a judge and includes your correct address. If the ICE agent does not have a warrant, you have the right to refuse entry to your home. Politely but firmly inform them that you do not consent to the search.”

According to the ICE website, its agents need “probable cause” to make an arrest. This means approximately “information that would cause a reasonable person to believe that a specific person was committing a specific crime.” It is unlikely that the courts will regard simply being Hispanic or speaking Spanish or both as probable cause. This seems to have been established by the Ninth Circuit in Galarza. If we accept that 81 percent of Latinos in America are citizens, then arrests of Latinos based only on ethnicity would be wrong four times out of five. As cause goes, this isn’t too probable.

Mr. Trump has spoken of using the military to carry out sweeps to round up illegals. The army is seventeen percent Latino. Mr. Trump may be unaware of posse comitatus, which forbids the use of the military as police forces in America. The National Guard, when federalized, comes under posse comitatus. While there is some fuzz and there are murky exceptions in the act, the wording is pretty clear. How this could be finessed I don’t know, but it sounds like a matter for the Supreme Court and, I think for what that’s worth, a sure loss.

But one thing I promise: The military won’t like it. At all. The armed forces have a long and wholesome tradition of staying out of domestic politics. The US, note, has had exactly zero military coups. Using troops against an ethnic group providing many of its recruits will not set well in the Five-Sided Wind Tunnel. The soldiers will agitate, hard, against it.

But I think Mr. Trump poses another and greater threat: Right now there is a disastrous rift between black and white with intense but repressed anger of whites against blacks and intense but unrepressed anger of blacks against whites.

Latinos are quiescent. They seem preoccupied with making money while keeping their heads down. They are assimilating. Turning them into another hostile and alienated group would be a catastrophe almost beyond imagining.

Legal Latinos do not favor open borders and, if not provoked, will remain peaceful and integrate themselves into the country. What will be their response on daily seeing soldiers or police hunting down their co-ethnics? I don’t know. But if, hypothetically, Latino police came through white neighborhoods to grab, say, white high-school dope-smokers, I know what the white reaction would be.

If Latino barrios decided to resist, they could. They could blow SOS on a car horn when a deportation van was spotted, whereupon illegals would shelter in apartments belonging to legals, where is your warrant, and such. It would turn deportation into a fruitless, grueling, endless low-level social war with hatred growing on each side. The media would be wildly in favor of the hiders, and Mr. Trump’s people wildly against. The country would never recover. This apparently does not concern Mr. Trump.

Nor does it concern the more zealous of the deporttistas. In their writings they seem to imagine hordes of law enforcement people swooping in and scooping up dozens, or hundreds, even thousands of illegals. Unfortunately they would also sweep up Latinos who are American citizens, a category whose existence the deportistas do not fully seem to recognize. This would result in a huge wave of suits for false arrest that would go quickly to the Supremes, who inevitably would rule that citizens are citizens, period.

Bluster or promise? Mr. Trump has a history of often doing what he says he will do, or at least trying. For example, he did indeed impose tariffs on Chinese imports, and made a Herculean attempt to build The Wall. We shall, perhaps, see.


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