Thursday, February 2, 2017


Draft White House orders would accelerate deportation of low-income immigrants

Draft White House orders
would accelerate deportation of low-income immigrants

By Eric London 

2 February 2017

According to a Washington Post report Tuesday, the White House is
preparing two executive orders that dramatically expand the Trump
administration’s attack on immigrant workers, targeting especially those immigrants,
with or without papers, who make use of public services such as food stamps,
Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
The newspaper published copies of the two draft
executive orders, as well as accompanying memoranda urging Trump to sign the
One draft order pledges to “[i]dentify and
remove, as expeditiously as possible, any alien who has become a public charge
and is subject to removal.” The order would expand on Trump’s threat to
prioritize for deportation those undocumented workers who have criminal
convictions or have merely been accused of a crime. In effect, receiving
federal benefits to which they were legally entitled would be treated as a
semi-criminal act, moving recipients up the priority list for deportation.
The memorandum accompanying this draft order,
written by White House staffer Andrew Bremberg, argues, “The immigration laws
must ensure the United States does not welcome individuals who are likely to
become or have become a burden on taxpayers.”
The language of the order suggests that the
Trump administration intends to expand the attack on immigrants receiving
federal benefits to include those holding legal visas and work permits, or even
green cards. It mandates the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
to draft new rules—subject to public comment and review before enactment—under
which “any alien” would be “subject to removal” if they have “become a public
The order goes on to claim that “households
headed by aliens are much more likely than those headed by citizens to use
Federal means-tested public benefits,” and it requires various federal
departments to collect and publish statistics to prove this charge.
The first draft order would also eliminate the
Child Tax Credit for those immigrants without Social Security numbers who still
pay taxes, and would also allow the government to “seek reimbursement from all
sponsors of immigrants for the costs of Federal means-tested public benefits
provided to sponsored immigrants.” In other words, the husbands, wives,
children, parents, and employers of immigrants who sponsor an immigrant’s
petition would be forced to pay for any benefits their relative or employee
The proposed draft sheds light on what the
content of the term “extreme vetting” means for those attempting to enter the
US. The order also instructs the agencies to “deny admission to any alien who
is likely to become a public charge.” Under current immigration law, immigrants
must already prove that they have relatives who can house them and ensure they
will not become dependent on government programs. While the Obama
administration treated this as one factor in whether an immigrant was
admissible, the proposed new order would require denial of admission.
A second draft order is aimed at closing
employment opportunities for legal immigrants. It calls for a review of all
work-related visas and a tightening of employment options for those without
work authorization: those who enter the United States on student or tourist
It is already difficult for undocumented workers
to acquire work permits. Usually this can be done once an immigrant has filed a
petition to adjust their immigration status, to apply for asylum, or to gain
immigrant benefits through a spouse or employer, but otherwise such migrants
must work in the shadows.
This draft order contains language aimed at
presenting the persecution of immigrants as an effort to help American-born
workers, and particularly minorities:
“The unlawful employment of aliens has
had a devastating impact on the wages and jobs of American workers, especially
low-skilled, teenage, and African-American and Hispanic workers.”
This is a particularly
cynical lie, given Trump’s adamant opposition to increasing the minimum wage
and fund programs to assist these more oppressed layers of the working class.
The second order instructs the government to
begin “publishing data in a format easy for the public to understand regarding
immigration patterns to the United States and a detailed description of the
effect of immigration on wages and employment of US workers since FY 2000.”
There are detailed instructions for the kinds of statistics to be collected,
strongly suggesting that the new administration intends to launch a propaganda
campaign scapegoating immigrant workers for the further driving down of living
standards as a result of the decline of American capitalism.
The Trump administration hopes to pit workers
against one another along racial and national lines. Trump is cynically
attempting to convince black workers that their enemy is immigrant workers when
he claims that undocumented workers have “a devastating impact” on the wages of
“African-American” workers. The same applies to Trump’s appeals to “teenage”
workers and “disadvantaged youth.”
By claiming that workers’ benefits and social
programs are threatened by immigrants, Trump hopes to channel workers’ anger
away from the true source of the attacks on living standards: the corporations
and banks that dominate Trump’s cabinet and will dictate the policies of his
Far from generating funds that would be used to
help working people, the crackdown on immigrants will come at the expense of
the entire working class. A recent report from the American Action Forum found
that deporting all undocumented workers would cost between $400 and $600
billion. Since Trump also proposes slashing taxes on the wealthy and on
corporations, there is no question the working class will foot the bill.
This vast sum will be used to hire an army of
lawyers, ICE officers, and to build a network of internment camps to imprison
the over 11 million deportees. At a press conference Tuesday of officials of
the Department of Homeland Security, the interim head of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement confirmed, in response to one reporter’s question, that ICE
was looking to greatly expand its detention facilities.
The attacks on access to benefits for immigrants
are a warning that the government plans to limit access to social programs for
all workers. Efforts to kick migrants off of social programs are a sign that
the administration’s top priority is cutting spending on public benefits, while
drastically expanding government spending on war and police-state surveillance.
The release of the two drafts indicates that the
Trump administration is planning to intensify its attacks on immigrants. In so
doing, Trump has the support of his newly-appointed Department of Homeland
Security Secretary John Kelly, who pledged his full support for the already
enacted executive orders during Tuesday’s press conference.
“This analysis is long overdue and strongly
supported by the department’s career intelligence officials,” the ex-Marine
general said. Repeating the lies used to justify every attack on democratic
rights over the last 15 years, he said: “We cannot gamble with American lives.
I will not gamble with American lives. These orders are a matter of national
These words make the Democratic Party
politically responsible for every element of the Trump attack on immigration.
The overwhelming majority of Democratic senators voted to confirm Kelly last
week, including Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine, Charles Schumer and Al Franken. This
exposes the fraud of the Democrats’ proclamations of support for immigrants. It
was Democratic President Barack Obama who deported 2.5 million immigrants and
who bombed or imposed sanctions on each of the seven countries listed in
Trump’s Muslim ban.
The Democratic Party is responsible for passing
the laws cited in Trump’s executive orders. The Democrats provided the
necessary votes for the passage of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant
Responsibility Act of 1996, which was signed by President Bill Clinton, and for
the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which was supported by then-senators Barack
Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden and Charles Schumer. The opposition to
Trump must be built on the basis of a turn to the working class, the class which
produces all of society’s wealth and shares common interests across national

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