Mass de­por­ta­tion – are we ready?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Ron­ald Ma­son Ron­ald Ma­son is an at­tor­ney-at­law and Supreme Court me­di­a­tor. Email feedback to col­umns@glean­ and na­tion­

DON­ALD J. Trump is pres­i­den­t­elect of the Repub­lic of the USA. One of the prin­ci­pal planks of the elec­tion cam­paign was on un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants.

The anal­y­sis of the po­ten­tial im­pact should there be mass de­por­ta­tion is just re­ally be­gin­ning. Bloomberg Me­dia is a re­spected out­let around the world and is re­lied on in places of in­flu­ence, in­clud­ing the opin­ions of Fran­cis Wilkin­son, who writes ed­i­to­ri­als on pol­i­tics and US do­mes­tic pol­icy for Bloomberg View.

The Ja­maican so­ci­ety is aware of the large num­ber of its im­mi­grants in the USA. How­ever, I do not think we ap­pre­ci­ate the large num­ber of un­doc­u­mented Ja­maican im­mi­grants. I have been ex­posed to re­ports in­di­cat­ing there are more than 600,000 such per­sons. We should be­gin to give thought to the re­set­tle­ment of our coun­try­men in the event of large-scale de­por­ta­tion.


Read ‘Un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants’ hopes may rest on Me­la­nia’/Bloomberg:

“‘Speaker Paul Ryan said last week­end that there will be no de­por­ta­tion force round­ing up un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Pres­i­dent-elect Trump, Ryan’s new boss, said he will de­port two mil­lion or three mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Both may be right.

“Kris Kobach, the Kansas sec­re­tary of state who called the League of Women Vot­ers ‘com­mu­nist’ for try­ing to thwart his voter-sup­pres­sion ef­forts, is a key im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy ad­viser to Trump. He told the Los Angeles Times last week: ‘There is vast po­ten­tial to in­crease the level of de­por­ta­tions with­out adding per­son­nel.’

“With a change of pol­icy, each of the es­ti­mated 11 mil­lion un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in the US would be­come in­stantly vul­ner­a­ble to de­por­ta­tion. To en­act those poli­cies, all Trump has to do is re­scind Barack Obama’s less ag­gres­sive ones. Ryan wouldn’t have to lift a leg­isla­tive fin­ger to re­alise Kobach’s ‘vast po­ten­tial’.

“Trump has re­peat­edly said he would tar­get crim­i­nals. But that’s the cur­rent pol­icy of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. The pres­i­dent-elect is un­likely to hew to the sta­tus quo af­ter mak­ing prom­ises in his cam­paign to be dra­mat­i­cally more ag­gres­sive.

“A big ques­tion is how fast Trump in­tends to re­move two mil­lion to three mil­lion peo­ple – and from where. In Obama’s first day, when he was try­ing to cre­ate the po­lit­i­cal space for Repub­li­cans to sup­port com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form, he de­ported more than 360,000 un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants per year, with a peak of more than 400,000 in 2012. How­ever, most of those re­moved were not long-time residents. The peak num­ber of de­por­ta­tions from the na­tion’s in­te­rior, as op­posed to those ap­pre­hended near the border, was 188,000 in 2011.

“In Obama’s sec­ond term, de­por­ta­tions de­clined, es­pe­cially af­ter the re­stric­tion­ist wing of the GOP killed re­form in 2014. The na­ture of de­por­tees shifted as well, with crim­i­nals, who the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion pri­ori­tised, be­com­ing a larger share in his sec­ond term. Set­tled, non-crim­i­nal im­mi­grants gained a mea­sure of se­cu­rity.

“Even with­out pub­lic re­sis­tance, legally de­port­ing two mil­lion over the course of Trump’s first term might be dif­fi­cult. The Pew Re­search Cen­ter es­ti­mates that the num­ber of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants in the US de­clined af­ter the re­ces­sion and has since sta­bilised at about 11 mil­lion.

“Most have been in the US for more than a decade. They are less likely to be tran­sients ‘liv­ing in the shad­ows’ than fix­tures liv­ing in the open. If Trump pur­sues large num­bers of im­mi­grants in the in­te­rior, he will find them – at home, at work, in school. Many would put up a le­gal fight.

“In part be­cause the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ready re­moved so many, there are un­likely to be two mil­lion un­doc­u­mented crim­i­nals re­main­ing, let alone three mil­lion. The Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy Cen­ter es­ti­mates that about 820,000, or seven per cent, of un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants have crim­i­nal records. About 300,000 are felons.

“Re­scind­ing Obama’s ex­ec­u­tive poli­cies, in­clud­ing his de­ferred ac­tion for more than 700,000 un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants who were brought to the USA as chil­dren, whose per­sonal data are now in the hands of a gov­ern­ment soon to be ad­min­is­tered by Trump, will ratchet up pres­sure on un­doc­u­mented fam­i­lies.

“Es­pe­cially if Trump dra­mat­i­cally in­creases de­por­ta­tions in set­tled com­mu­ni­ties, some may be­gin plot­ting a de­par­ture. Oth­ers, in­clud­ing both cit­i­zens and un­doc­u­mented mem­bers, will be torn apart. Ac­cord­ing to the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute, about onethird of these par­ents have an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen child. Other un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants, with or with­out chil­dren are mar­ried to le­gal residents.

“A per­sis­tent state of fear, lead­ing to self-de­por­ta­tion, has been a goal of GOP im­mi­gra­tion re­stric­tion­ists for some time.”


Cur­rently, Ja­maica has ma­jor chal­lenges with crime, hous­ing, health care and ed­u­ca­tion. It would not sur­prise that should the de­por­ta­tions be­gin in earnest, ex­pa­tri­ate Ja­maicans will be forced home in num­bers by thou­sands or tens of thou­sands.

As at now, USA de­ports ap­prox­i­mately 20,000 per year and this num­ber is in­clu­sive of those de­nied ad­mis­sion at the ports of en­try.

Two hun­dred thou­sand non-tourism ar­rivals at the Nor­man Man­ley air­port in a short pe­riod of time is fright­en­ing. Are we ready? Have we be­gun to plan for this?


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