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Column: The 'Shackles' Are Off
In his new US News column,“The 'Shackles' Are Off,” Simon examines the dangers of Trump's new immigration policies for all Americans not just immigrants.
Be sure to also read Simon's recent column, "Steve Bannon, Meet Russell Pearce"
An Excerpt from "The 'Shackles' Are Off"
"The details of DHS's implementation memos of the president's immigration executive orders deserve special attention. In a memo on new enforcement rules released in the past few days, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly gave his immigration officers total discretion to detain anyone without a warrant, who "in the judgment of an immigration officer ... pose a risk to public safety or national security." The memo wipes away the Obama era prioritization of criminals and recent border crossers, making every undocumented immigrant in the US a priority for deportation (which was the policy till Obama changed it in 2011).
In the daily White House briefing last week, Sean Spicer described this new authority as taking the "shackles off" DHS immigration officers, freeing them up to go round up any one they choose not burdened by Obama era priorities. Anticipating that DHS would conduct wide raids and sweeps in administration officials describe as an "enforcement surge," a second DHS memo had to put in writing that American citizens and green card holders should be released if detained. So to be clear here – the U.S. government is anticipating that DHS immigration agents will be so aggressive that it will be common for U.S. citizens to be swept up and detained in the coming months.
And we've seen this already. An entire plane full of people on a domestic U.S. flight had their IDs forcibly checked last week. Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of the famous boxer and a U.S. citizen, was detained at a U.S. airport for hours. A native-born citizen from Puerto Rica was held in custody for several days before proving his citizenship. What makes this process ever more threatening of course is that the most common American form of identification, a driver's license, does not prove citizenship or convey legal status. Neither native-born nor immigrant Americans typically walk around with their passport or birth certificate. This means that if a citizen is detained it is not easy to prove lawful presence here, and many citizens may end up being held for days. If this feels a bit Orwellian, it is."