January 7, 2020 – The Trump Administration’s relentless efforts to scapegoat, scare, and both keep out and kick out immigrants includes a mounting series of big brother and big government tactics – supposedly anathema to conservatives and Republicans – that are ensnaring U.S. citizens. Witness:
- DHS to force DNA collection from people in immigration custody – including from U.S. citizens and green card holders. As the AP reports, the “U.S. government on Monday launched a pilot program to collect DNA from people in immigration custody and submit it to the FBI, with plans to expand nationwide … [A DHS memo] said U.S. citizens and permanent residents holding a “green card” who are detained could be subject to DNA testing, as well as asylum seekers and people entering the country without authorization. Refusing to submit DNA could lead to a misdemeanor criminal charge, the document said.”
- DHS is set share citizenship information, including personally identifiable data, with the U.S. Census Bureau. DHS is set to work with the Census Bureau to “create a model estimating the likelihood that each person in the U.S. is a citizen, non-citizen or an immigrant in the country without legal permission” according to AP reporting. While a government fact sheet says, “Your answers can only be used to produce statistics — they cannot be used against you in any way,” this administration doesn’t exactly deserve the benefit of the doubt. At minimum, it’s a disturbing new data collection and reporting endeavor that could be misused and/or relied on for new fodder in the effort to change the Census apportionment process or make a case against birthright citizenship.
- Unlawful detention of U.S. Citizens at ports of entry. At points of entry in Washington state and possibly in other parts of the country, U.S. citizens who are of Iranian descent are being unlawfully detained by the Trump administration’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP). As immigration attorney David Leopold points out in a Medium piece published today:
“Glaringly, Trump’s CBP does not deny that it is subjecting U.S. citizens to prolonged interrogation about their allegiances or politics. The administration is likely banking on the fact that most travelers returning from abroad and facing sudden enhanced interrogation by U.S. immigration agents at the border do not know that they have the right to refuse to answer questions about their political views, religion or allegiances and, if they wish, speak to a lawyer.”
- Seizing land from private landowners to build the border wall. The Trump administration has been sending “Right of Entry” letters to landowners along the border in California, New Mexico and Texas, which grant the government the ability to survey private land along the border for use for the wall – the first step in the process of taking land from private owners to build the wall. As a December Washington Post story unsurprisingly reported, a host of potentially affected private landowning families in Texas (which include military veterans, longtime Texans, and Trump 2016 voters) are not exactly happy with the news that Trump plans to seize their property.
Big Brother is alive and well in the Trump Administration. And it is expanding in strength and power every day to ensnare more and more U.S. citizens in a web of actions that limit the freedom of millions of Americans. Whether it is unlawful detention at the border, swabbing for DNA and storing it forever in a government database, capturing private data, seizing homes and land to build a wall — all these actions amount to a sprawling new threat to American liberty by our own government. What started as a policy to ensnare undocumented immigrants is now spreading to become a threat to the liberty of all Americans. Republicans who once stood as the party opposed to big government and intrusive public policies now stand silent as they salute Trump and give him cover for any and all tactics he may use.
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