Apropos Erik’s post from yesterday, DHS Secretary John Kelley met with the leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. At least by some accounts, the content of the meeting are deeply troubling. Indeed, Rep. Gutiérrez issued an alarmed press release afterwards, which I reproduce in its entirety.
I think we have to prepare for the worst and get ready to fight mass deportation. We showed up at airports to fight the Muslim and Refugee Ban and now DREAMers and people who have lived here legally for decades with TPS are in imminent danger.
Secretary Kelly determines the future of TPS and basically told us he is not sure if he will extend it for hundreds of thousands of people. He also said that the future of DACA is up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, America’s leading advocate against immigration, so Kelly was basically telling us DACA is facing a death sentence. They actually want to take millions of people who are documented – with our own government – make them undocumented, and then go after them and their families.
So, I fear for anybody currently with DACA or TPS.
This was a wake-up call that Trump, Sessions and Kelly are serious about mass deportation and are anxious to get started. It is a call to action for people who oppose mass deportation and turning the documented into undocumented so that they can be deported.
Upon questioning, Sec. Kelly made it clear he does not understand how his agency works or how the Congress works. He stood by his past remarks that Congress should change the law if we don’t like it, as if Democrats have not been fighting Republican obstruction for years, and asking for a vote on immigration reform, the DREAM Act and other legislation. Sec. Kelly says it is up to Congress, but his party is the obstacle standing in the way of a modern immigration system.
Sec. Kelly said he could not help people and their American citizen children who have no criminal record and are being deported, as if he doesn’t understand that he has the power under current law to spare people through his prosecutorial discretion. I told him straight up that he could prevent the August deportation of Francisca Lino – the wife of a U.S. citizen and mother of U.S. citizen children in Chicago – just by picking up the phone and he seemed not to know he has that power.
He either does not understand his authority under current law or was stonewalling or doing a very convincing job of playing dumb – or maybe some combination of the three. He is playing along with Trump’s agenda to deport millions and pretending to not understand his powers to do something about it. ‘Just following orders’ is not a valid defense, especially when you have the power to prevent a tragedy for millions of American citizens and their families.
Trump, Sessions and Kelly want to take 800,000 DREAMers with DACA and hundreds of thousands with TPS who are registered with the government and in compliance with the law and make them into criminals, felons, and deportees in the next few months. Anyone with a conscience who thinks legal immigration is an integral part of who we are as a country just got called to action.
In the context of the arbitrary and capricious implementation of Trump’s stripped-down Muslim Ban, Erik’s remarked that “This is grotesque. It is a violation of everything that can be good about this nation. That we are now acquiescing in this sort of thing happening without barely a peep of daily protest I find greatly dispiriting.” A number of commentators pointed out the basic problem: the wave of protests had both a highly visible trigger—the sudden implementation of the ban—and placed significant numbers of travelers in immediate peril. While the revocation of DACA or TPS might provoke a similar response, the scenario of a slow-motion, uncertain, and decentralized ramping up of deportations is not ideal for mass mobilization.
The kind of mobilization we saw early in the Trump Administration brought together heterogeneous crows who, by and large, were not linked together. This kind of thing—which we also after the September 11 attacks—tends to prove ephemeral. The best way to sustain mobilization is to engage in organizational politics—join activist groups, recruit members, help link together different existing organizations. This requires more work than being on Facebook or Twitter, but its the real stuff of popular political action.