In this week’s installment of utter madness, it has been announced that the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is planning to open a Los Angeles based investigative division to review the fingerprints and files of naturalized American citizens they believe have committed “naturalization fraud.” Their goal: to sniff out, catch, and deport citizens who were ordered deported and have used fake identities to later get green cards and citizenship. It’s an initiative that began towards the end of the Obama Administration to probe naturalized citizens with security clearances, but the Trump Administration has made this a new priority because, well… because Trump is a racist.
“What we’re looking at, when you boil it all down, it potentially a few thousand cases” USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna told the Associated Press. But if that’s true why would they spend what is sure to be millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars to catch a few thousand people? For reference there are roughly 325.7 million people living in the United States and based on a 2016 USCIS report there are at least 858 cases of previously deported foreigners applying for citizenship under a different identity.
If you know anything at all about the naturalization process in the US, you know that the likelihood of this being some kind of widespread conspiracy is slim. The path to citizenship is as broken as it is expensive. In fact, the Justice Department has only filed around 300 civil denaturalization cases since 1990, not to mention previous initiatives like this were instituted to find Nazi war criminals. Now ICE will be digitizing old fingerprint records in the hopes of stripping naturalized Americans of their citizenship. But don’t worry, The Trump administration says it doesn’t plan on seeking deportations based on technicalities—like the fact that Latinos have multiple surnames—to which I say, “how stupid do you think we are?” This could be easily used to persecute and incarcerate people who have made mistakes on their paperwork and cannot afford to fight it in court.
So I’m sure by now you’re asking yourself what the actual f**k? This is a classic example of the Trump Administration’s penchant for making their initiatives sound harmless, all while planning to do some serious dirt. Let’s all take a second to look around at the dumpster fire that is Trump’s Public policy. Previous directives with the supposed purpose of detaining “bad hombres,” have been used to treat people fleeing US created chaos in their homelands like animals. We’re about to witness yet another pointless policy not aimed at education, healthcare, or constructive immigration reform, that will surely be used as a weapon against American citizens of color. As activist Shaun King pointed out in an Instagram post denouncing the separation of families at the border:“He doesn’t have a problem with immigrants. He has married two and has kids with them. He’s a grandson of immigrants. His problem is with immigrants of color. Period.”
So we must ask ourselves who will benefit from this? The answer is sure to be the shareholders and private companies like GEO who profit off these immigrant “detention centers” that are nothing more than rebranded concentration camps. With the amount of people already being deported and detained, the courts are already backlogged and understaffed. It doesn’t help that the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants could be held indefinitely without regular bail hearings and that these poor people are being forced to work—aka slavery. Taking away citizenship from thousands of Americans is a sure fire way to fill these camps, profit from forced labor, and to intimidate Black and Brown Naturalized Americans who have already waited years and paid thousands of dollars for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s something writer and activist Julissa Arce-Raya tells HipLatina is going to set a dangerous precedent for naturalized citizens like herself. “As a naturalized American citizen, this effort is of grave concern. We spend 5, 10, 15 years going through the citizenship process and when we recite the Oath of Allegiance we sigh a sigh of relief, feeling that we’ve finally arrived at the end of the process. And now, we are being told that we may have to jump more hoops, that we aren’t American enough. When do we get to simply live our lives as citizens of this country?”
As we continue to feel the tightening death grip of blatantly racist policy, as we watch children being ripped from their parents, abused, placed into trafficking, denied asylum in the name of “national security,” as we continue to watch Black Americans brutalized, Muslim Americans profiled and discriminated against, this feels like one more slap in the face for the people of color who are still waiting for Democrats to speak up, step in, and protect them. But I won’t hold my breath, and neither should you.