Donald Trump Isn’t Bluffing About Deporting 11,000,000 People

During the run-up to America’s war against Iraq, I told audiences that Bush would certainly win reelection. Some people broke down in tears.

That’s my job: telling people things they prefer not to hear, especially about the future. Being Cassandra isn’t much fun. Because we live in a nation in decline and yielding to incipient fascism, the more I’m right — i.e., most of the time — the more I annoy my readers.

So please believe me when I say this gives me no pleasure: Donald Trump isn’t bluffing when he threatens to deport the estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally.

Are you undocumented? Prepare to go underground.

Are your papers in good standing? Are you a good person? Prepare a hiding place in your home.

Dark days are ahead.

Do not take comfort in the fact that Trump flip-flops on all sorts of issues. Contrary to his initial, typically strident position on abortion, the master demagogue now says women needn’t fear imprisonment if they terminate their pregnancy (unless he changes his mind again). Even his much-ballyhooed Great Wall of Trump along the Mexican border may wind up as half a wall. He does this a lot.

But there’s no way he’ll back away from mass deportations.

Why are deportations different? Radical nativism, as defined by this promise to deport illegal immigrants, every single one of them, defined his campaign from the start. It’s why he’s here. It’s why he won.

Reneging on deportations would be like Bernie Sanders asking Goldman Sachs for donations or Hillary Clinton changing her gender — it would betray the raison d’être of his campaign. He can’t back down without losing most of his support.

The optics of the biggest forced population movement since those carried out by Hitler and Stalin would be awful. Police kicking down doors. Women and children dragged off in the middle of the night. Neighbors, friends, colleagues, lovers, spouses — disappeared.

Countries of origin would be reluctant to absorb millions of new arrivals, all unemployed, many of them who came to the U.S. as children and thus have no memory of their “home” countries. So the Trump Administration would have to build concentration camps to house them.

Because the idea is so outlandish, so fundamentally un-American, it’s too much to contemplate seriously, even for journalists. They’re in denial. If Trump wins, however — and it’s entirely possible he will — he will carry out his plan.

Legally, there’s nothing to it. Trump doesn’t need an act of Congress. He doesn’t even have to sign an executive order. All he’ll have to do to set this outrage in motion is pick up the phone and tell the head of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to do his or her job: enforce the law.

Camps cost money. So do more agents. No problem. President Trump can shift his budget priorities in favor of ICE. He’s already said he would triple ICE’s enforcement division from 5,000 to 15,000 officers. The FBI would have to pitch in.

Backlogs in the nation’s 57 existing immigration courts run as long as two years. The system would have to be expanded.

I look to Trump’s authoritarian impulse to turn initially to the federal budget. I imagine him making a pitch that goes like this: “I won because the American people wanted my business acumen in charge of government. Congress has totally messed up the budget process with their budget stand-offs. Let me take care of the budget, and I promise you an end to this crap. Take your kids to a national park and I guarantee it won’t be closed due to some government shutdown, believe me.” Compliant media + perceived mandate + popular exhaustion = Trump gets his way.

Sad but true: subtracting 11 million people from the population, and thus two to four million from the workforce, will put money into the pockets of everybody else. Fewer workers means labor has more clout. Wages will go up.

Meanwhile, deportations will empty housing stock. Rents will decline.

In the short term, anyway, Trumpism could stimulate the economy. That would be popular.

Establishmentarians can’t imagine that Trump would actually go through with mass deportations, much less how he would carry them out. “I can’t even begin to picture how we would deport 11 million people in a few years when we don’t have a police state, where the police can’t break down your door at will and take you away without a warrant,” says Michael Chertoff, head of the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush.

You don’t need imagination to game this out. You need history.

Right-wingers will call the cops to report their undocumented neighbors. As in Nazi-occupied Europe, anyone with a grudge against someone without a valid I-9 form — resentful ex-boyfriends, etc. — will drop a dime to Trump’s jackbooted thugs. Checkpoints will spring up on roads, at bus stops, in train stations. Not that they have to; mass surveillance by the NSA ensures that the feds already know where illegals live.

It won’t be hard to find judges to issue warrants based on those reports.

For Trump, deportations are a political necessity he can easily execute. For his critics, they won’t occur because they would run against our societal values. “Unless you suspend the Constitution and instruct the police to behave as if we live in North Korea,” Chertoff says, “it ain’t happening.”

More than most people, Chertoff ought to know better. After all, he served under a radical right-wing president who convinced us to go along with perpetual war, concentration camps, legalized torture, invading foreign countries for fun, killer drone planes and a new cabinet-level bureaucracy whose mission — and very name, Homeland Security — evokes Nazi Germany.

It doesn’t take much to convince Americans to accept the unacceptable.

(Ted Rall is the author of “Bernie,” a biography written with the cooperation of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. His next book, the graphic biography Trump, comes out July 19th.)

30 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN:
Donald Trump Isn’t Bluffing About Deporting 11,000,000 People

  1. Ted,

    Donald won’t deport 11 million. He won’t have to. He’ll start deporting a few thousand. Remember Camp Whateveritwas where those “few bad apples” stacked POWs in pyramids and took selfies with corpses and all the rest of it? Does anyone even remember Lynndie English? It seems like so long ago. But there are still people rotting in Gitmo. I’m sure Hillary woulda sprung ’em. Or not. Depending on what way the wind was blowing and whether she could spin it, somehow, into some false equivalence about how much she cares about women.

    Trump will, with great fanfare and a lot of media coverage, pick up a few thousand of the “scarybrownmen.” And with great ceremony, he will show them being deported. The rest of the 11 million? I suspect the standard will be a lot of brutality. The badly beaten deportees will be dumped wherever, and the lesson will go out: the Americans have finally gone nuts; if you show up, they’ll beat you to within an inch of your life. I think a significant proportion will self-deport.

    Sort of like how you “self-exit” when your house catches fire.

    God help them, and God help us.

  2. It wouldn’t do any good to deport bigots’ victims, the haters would simply find new targets.

    Deporting bigots, however, would make wars, lynchings, riots, and police killings much less frequent. Public discourse would improve immeasurably and jackasses like Trump wouldn’t even get on the ballot.

    I call that a win.

  3. Trump contradicts himself constantly, often within the same sentence. He’s a loose cannon. No one can possibly predict what idiocies he’ll commit.

    Clinton and Obama are the two biggest removers of non-Cuban Hispanics in the history of the US. We KNOW Hillary will deport a big chunk of the 11 million. Will Trump do as he promised and deport far more? No one has a p***ing clew.

    Will Hillary? Of course she will. Plus war in Syria, Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China! For starters.

    Will Putin recognise that Hillary ain’t bluffin’, that she HAS to prove she’s tougher than Obama? And the Bushes? And Bill? And Harry?

    If Putin doesn’t recognise that Hillary is the toughest president the US has ever had, then …

  4. I’m trying my best–really–to understand all your guys’ bizarro world in which rampant lawlessness and overwhelming invasion is not a crisis of existential importance. A world in which deporting people *who shouldn’t even have been here* is the same as deporting legal residents.

    How can enforcing law, punishing lawbreakers, and expecting people to come here through legal channels be “fundamentally un-American?”

    I’ve got news for you all: you’re not in the know like you think you are. TPTB *want* massive amounts of third worlders here. They provide cheap labor, depress wages, vote for big government, and, I would say most importantly, further Balkanize the nation making us easier than ever to divide and conquer. Americans have no fucking idea anymore who they are. Which was the goal. Soon the real shit starts.

    • Right “Americans have no fucking idea anymore who they are.”

      Sounds like the secular version of the “religious” reich’s: “My ‘faith’ is destroyed because x, y & z group doesn’t share it.”

      • “Diversity” is inversely proportional to group trust and cooperation. That’s a fact. And I want to live in a society with high levels of trust and cooperation. You and I both might be able to see past glaring differences but we also know that the vast majority of human beings cannot. I think it’s just human nature that isn’t going to be educated away, but I know you don’t agree.

      • “Diversity” is inversely proportional to group trust and cooperation. That’s a fact. And I want to live in a society with high levels conformity. You and I both might be able to see past glaring differences but we also know that the vast majority of human beings cannot. I think it’s just human nature that isn’t going to be educated away, but I know you don’t agree.

        (Can you spot the above clarification of the original?)

        So what we don’t understand we should fear and destroy. And we should use state violence to prevent violations of conformity rules to deter unwarranted attempts at understanding.


      • “If I hate you for being different than me, it’s your own damn fault and you must be punished.”

        Of course xenophobia is a natural human reaction. If I see another neanderthal striding across the veldt, he might be friendly, and he might not. If he’s unfriendly and I treat him as a friend, he might eat my liver. It’s safer for me to whack him over the head and eat his liver.

        Unless, of course, I want to get me some civilization larger than a tribe. In that case, I’m going to have to learn to deal with people from other tribes, even if they are different than me.

      • The problem of course comes when there are several different large groups that have next to nothing in common with each other be it values, appearance, or culture. There is no reason to identify together. There are no unifying characteristics. Countries that allow this to happen inevitably fracture, which probably doesn’t concern you, but it does concern me.

        For whatever reason you refuse to acknowledge that we must have some shared identity with our countrymen. In my view, tolerance is possible to a great but not infinite degree as you clearly believe.

      • > There are no unifying characteristics.

        We are all humans. We all live on the same planet. We all love our mommies. We all need to eat, sleep, and poop.

        The things you mention are strictly superficial. The problem isn’t that people have superficial differences; the problem is that bigots can’t accept those superficial differences.

        Multiculturalism is simply acknowledging reality. If that’s too hard for you – you’re welcome to find your own planet.

      • No, multiculturalism is suffocating-while-head-buried-in-sand level of delusion. It is the asphyxiation of the West.

      • And I find it both disturbing and revealing that you believe both culture and even *values* are “superficial.”

      • I don’t want the West to die for your starry-eyed, psychotic social engineering experiment.

      • I don’t want the species to die because you can’t accept that other people are different than you are.

      • It’s not me that needs the diversity sensitivity training–good luck teaching the savages who despise you and me and could not care less about our rights or what you believe. They’re the ones you have to convince but of course you don’t worry about them.

      • They think you’re soft and pathetic and deserve to be conquered. Perhaps they’re right.

      • Spoken as only an acolyte of the mustachioed gentleman champion of an Aryian nation could.

        Since I don’t conform to your ideology, what violence do you prescribe to rectify my error, Jack?

      • Yes Jack, your prejudices are everyone’s fault but your own. That’s the old GOP notion of ‘Personal Responsibility’ – to wit, It’s always some other person’s responsibility.

        Now take a step back and examine your argument. “Love thy neighbor” causes violence, while “Hate unto others” is the road to peace. That makes just as much sense most of your posts.

        This thing you call a “psychotic social engineering experiment” is at least 12,000 years old.

        It’s killing us so badly that we now have a life expectancy of over eighty years where it used to be under thirty. Our infant mortality rate is under one percent where it used to be ninety percent.

        Oh, the humanity!

      • You truly are fools. For your vision to work, *everyone* must agree to ignore all “superficial” differences. *And* you have to overcome the entire in-group-out-group dynamic so deeply biologically ingrained. Good fucking luck with all that.

        I’ll stick with reality where we can protect our own and simply not intervene in the affairs of other groups. You offer a false dichotomy. We do not either have to hate and seek to destroy those different from us OR adore them and invite them in. We can also just leave them alone entirely. That’s the real solution. Different nations for different peoples. Not hard to grasp.

    • Jack,

      First, I’ll agree with you that it’s pretty much impossible to have a discussion on the issue because a lot of people who don’t want these 11 million people being deported are so deep into the knee-jerk aspect of language politics that you can’t get a discussion off the ground. (I still can’t find an explanation for why “illegal immigrant” is either offensive or inaccurate in the first place. I find a lot about why the terms need to be changed to “unauthorized immigration” because that is “less offensive” and “more precise” but that’s not the same thing. I don’t pursue it anymore because all I get is dismissive hostility from beings who are far, far, more moral and sublimely perfect than I am, as I stand there saying, “No, I really am trying to just understand this. Why won’t you take me seriously?” “Racist much?”)

      Second. It is pretty well nearly impossible to obtain legal citizenship for a lot of those 11 million people. Here’s a link..)

      Third. None of Trump’s speechifying is about enforcing a law. That’s just the cover story. Like when Hillary says she can get it done. What she’s really saying is, “I’m a woman. I will be the first woman president of the U.S. That’s such a cool thing for me, so you have to help me. Don’t worry, I’ll be just as bad as the men before me. But. … Sisterhood.”

      What Trump is really saying is this: “I need something to rally the Republicans around me. And this is the thing that works best. It combines racism, employment issues, economics, and, most importantly, it gives my constituents a convenient scapegoat that can be (in their minds at least) linked to 9/11, terrorism, and all that crap.”

      That’s what people are more concerned about. That this is about turning the U.S. into a police state. And when they’re done dealing with those 11 million illegals, they aren’t just going to disband and go back to their lives. They’re going to come after the next group. And then the next …

      • You’re right that it’s hard to have a real conversation, Alex, but you’re missing one important – and that is that you have a fine record of not being a racist.

        Therefore, when you start talking about immigration, I know you’re actually talking about immigration not ‘feelthy foreigners.” When you point out Obama’s many faults, I know it’s got nothing to do with the color of his skin.

        In some cases, it *is* hard to tell the speakers’ innermost feelings on the subject. However, in other cases – Trump and certain, unnamed posters here – it’s quite obvious what the speakers’ prejudices are.

      • > “… why “illegal immigrant” is either offensive or inaccurate in the first place.”


        Because many of the people being talked about are not immigrants, per se They are migrant farm workers, refugees or temporary visitors who simply didn’t bother to get a visa. To call them all “illegal immigrants’ is a disingenuous attempt to tar them all with the same brush. It also inflates the numbers. making the ‘problem’ sound worse than it really is. (and that is offensive)

      • Alex, I would say we crossed into police state territory long ago and that there are many other avenues to expand it that progressives either believe are non-issues or even beneficial. However, I see your point though I think it’s a leap of logic. Why do these forces then turn on Americans?

        Of course you know we already have the CIA and NSA active domestically. We already have trial rights violated. We already have police abusing power.

        I know I’m alone here in saying this but I’m buying Trump the man. I have the highest trust and confidence in him. He loves this country. He’s not here to commit evil–he’s here to combat it.

    • TPTB want the immigrants both HERE and ILLEGAL.

      That way minimum wage law violations and other workplace law violations can’t be reported. Deport follows report.

      This is not a promise to change things, but a promise NOT to change things. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans see any advantage in labor having access to legal recourse.

      This is why the businesses that hire these workers almost never face any legal consequences.

      Trump has had problems with outsourcing construction labor, as I recall.

      Big profits always depend on big exploitation.

      Governor Rauner in Illinois wants to designate minimum wage exempt zones to boost the state’s economy.

      Capitalists are in favor of free labor: not labor that is free to access the courts when laws are violated, but labor that does not have to be paid.

      • > This is why the businesses that hire these workers almost never face any legal consequences.

        Bingo! If you want to solve the ‘problem’ you need to address its causes, rather the symptoms.

        Workers wouldn’t come here if nobody would hire them.

        Refugees wouldn’t come here if we hadn’t helped turn their native countries into shitholes.

    • Jack,

      Although I agree about the “police state” already being here — when you have Stop and Frisk, you have a police state — I will argue that the police state is still in the shadows because it hasn’t yet made the leap to all the time and everywhere.

      Even in our era of fading civil liberties, I have a reasonable expectation of being allowed to go about my business. In the police state, that stops. You expect to be stopped, at least once, each time you venture out.

      Yes, all our e-mails are being intercepted and read. Ted has recounted on more than one occasion about how his phone was tapped. But we still aren’t quite at the police state yet.

      When Ted disappears. When fully suited police officers armed with assault rifles stop people on the streets and interrogate them openly. When people are arbitrarily taken in for questioning until they fink out someone else.

      Then we’ll be in a police state. Unfortunately, we’ll all be trapped by then.

  5. «Because the idea is so outlandish, so fundamentally un-American, it’s too much to contemplate seriously, even for journalists.» In what way, Ted, are outlandish – and vicious – ideas «fundamentally un-American» ? Rather they are part and parcel of the country’s political life. You are, I suspect, too young to have lived through the days when entities like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) rampaged through the country, destroying lives, not to mention organisations like the Ku Klux Klan or the Know Nothing Movement (which, appropriately enough, called itself first the «Native American Party», later shortened to the «American Party»). That «journalists» in the corporate media don’t wish to contemplate these matters – at least not publicly – hardly comes as a surprise, given the venality of the corps….

    But I agree, if Mr Trump does get into the White House, it’s likely that this is one of the measures he’s talked about that he will, in fact, carry out. But to call it «un-American» – unless you’ve got your tongue very far ensconced in your cheek – reveals a total misunderstanding of US history and politics….