The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

A century after the Palmer Raids

The New Republic puts President Trump's planned terror campaign this weekend in historical perspective:

The Trump administration forecasts its deportation raids not to make them more successful, but to instill fear in disfavored communities and to signal to his supporters that he’s doing just that. Trump constantly strives to slake his base’s unquenchable thirst for harsher policies toward immigrants. I’ve written before on how the border itself, and all the social ills that Trump ascribes to it, acts as a white whale of sorts for his presidency. The Cops-like show drama of the upcoming raids is red meat for Fox News viewers and Breitbart readers alike.

Immigrants in America have been targeted for political sensationalism before. Perhaps the best-known example is the Palmer raids, which took place in the fall of 1919 and the spring of 1920. ... Under Palmer’s leadership, the Justice Department launched a massive simultaneous raid on suspected communists in November 1919, sweeping up thousands of alleged members in more than a dozen states. Belief in the communist cause, not participation in any suspected crime, justified the arrests. Though the Justice Department trumpeted the detainees’ political ideology first, their status as immigrants also defined the raids.

Trump isn’t actually trying to solve an immigration problem. The president lacks the ability to remove all or most undocumented people in the country, and he lacks the desire to normalize their legal status in any meaningful way. His legislative proposals are too extreme even for members of his own party, while his negotiating tactics are ultimatums at best, hostage-taking at worst. This is all about raw political survival: terrorizing those whom his supporters hate, so that he remains the one they love.

Chicago is among the cities bracing for the raids.

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