I Am an Immigrant – And So Are You

I attended a rally a few days ago at the White House in response to Not-My-President Trump’s Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. There were a few hundred people there; not bad considering the last-minute callout from MoveOn.org. I have a few observations about this experience.

The rally group was forced by uniformed officers to move from the side of Lafayette Park closest to the White House to a spot furthest removed from the White House even though we were separated from the WH fence by two sidewalks and the wide pedestrian-only stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue between them. I say “forced” because the threat was “move away or be arrested.” The organizers asked the crowd to comply and it did.

I later asked a DC police officer who was “guarding” us on the opposite side of the Park about the reason for the forced move. He politely explained that he didn’t know the answer because the order came from the Secret Service and Park Police citing “unspecified security issues.” No one apparently had explained the “security issues” to the DC Police who were also on the scene. I believe this was the work of the Trump White House. Congress should investigate.

The impetus for the rally was the signing of Travel/Muslim Ban 2.0. The language of the Executive Order comprising 2.0 reflects the same hateful and unfounded animus against immigrants that was the essence of Travel Ban 1.0 found constitutionally and otherwise deficient by, among others, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Each EO manifests a desire to keep Muslims out of the United States, as Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign. There is no reason to doubt now that these Executive Orders are the direct implementation of those promises, no matter how dressed up the language in 2.0.

I am an immigrant in every relevant sense. My maternal grandparents came to the United States from Russia in 1906. My father’s parents, it is believed, hailed from the Netherlands. I am therefore only a second generation American. In point of fact, almost everyone in the United States is a descendant of immigrants. According to Quora.com, “The White American average genetic makeup is 98.6% European, 0.19% African, and 0.18% Native American.” http://bit.ly/2mpHEvh. According to the U.S. Census, American Indians and Alaska Natives comprised about 2 percent of the total population in 2014. http://bit.ly/2mjNoEy.

Thus, every anti-immigrant action taken by the xenophobic Trump administration is, at least indirectly, an attack on virtually everyone. It is but a short step from where Trump is now to “show me your bloodlines.” This is truly a situation where if anyone is unsafe, all are unsafe.

One feature of Travel Ban 2.0 not focused on elsewhere to my knowledge is that the time periods for suspension of entry under the two EOs are the same, even though 2.0 was announced more than a month after 1.0 and will not be effective until March 16. The changes made in 2.0 could, it would seem, have been made by one or two competent attorneys in a week’s time or less, even allowing for inter-agency consultation and coordination. That they were not must reflect that 2.0 is a political timing event and that the Trump administration has been sitting on its hands about the “emergency” of “uncontrolled entry” and “unvetted immigrants” while it dawdled with the language and Trump gave his speech to Congress. Thus, 2.0 reflects that no significant progress appears to have been made in the actual review of immigration procedures that are the centerpiece of the supposed rationale for the emergency “temporary” entry restrictions. The administration has certainly not announced any such progress. The procedures and the results of them are surely well known within the government. How can periods of 90 and 120 days be justified for “reviewing procedures?”

Consider also that in the interim between 1.0 and 2.0, Trump proposed to Congress the creation of a new government body inside Homeland Security: Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement, or VOICE. It is, as usual, unclear what this entity will do, or how much it will cost taxpayers, but the President has shown no similar solicitude for the victims of “non-immigrant crime” who vastly outnumber those affected by criminal behavior of immigrants. Perhaps Trump will eventually demand that immigrants mark themselves with an “I” so everyone can identify them on sight. Sound familiar? Right out of the Nazi playbook.

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