Obama created a deportation machine. Soon it will be Trump’s

Source: The Guardian Unlimited

While he is still in office, the president should urgently take action to limit the damage that Trump can do once it’s in his hands

Among the many asphyxiating gut punches delivered by Donald Trump’s election, his denigration of immigrants and pledge to deport them en masse stand out. Trump has now signaled that he will move to deport as many as three million immigrants after he takes office, and roll back Barack Obama’s executive action protecting more than 700,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

The guesswork under way over the damage Trump might wreak, from decimating what remains of the social safety net to trashing precarious efforts to curb global warming, is chilling. The promised attack on immigrants suggests we will see communities terrorized by what can only be fairly described as a police state.

What’s received little attention is that Trump would probably use tools developed by the Bush and Obama administrations to orchestrate mass deportations. Over the last 16 years, the federal government has used local police and jails as a key tool to orchestrate mass deportations – and that’s precisely what Trump plans to do on a more frightening scale than ever.

One tool, Obama’s favorite, is Secure Communities, now called the Priority Enforcement Program. It links an FBI database comprising fingerprints entered by local law enforcement bodies to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice). Under Obama, Secure Communities made local arrests the key entry point to a deportation pipeline that removed 2.5 million from the country. Another is 287(g), authorized by Bill Clinton but first implemented under Bush, which deputizes local police and jails to search out undocumented immigrants.

Thanks to a strong immigrant rights movement, Obama curbed both to a limited (and, in the case of Secure Communities, heavily debated) degree after overseeing mass deportations. Trump has clearly stated he will get rid of Obama’s restrictions and embrace both programs with open arms.

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