News Release

How Clinton and Obama Laid Groundwork for Trump’s Immigration Policies


Book23123AVIVA CHOMSKY, achomsky [at]
Professor of history and coordinator of Latin American studies at Salem State University in Massachusetts, Chomsky’s most recent book is Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal.

She just wrote the piece “Making Sense of the Deportation Debate, How Bill Clinton and Barack Obama Laid the Groundwork for Trump’s Immigration Policies” for TomDispatch, which states: “Anecdotally speaking, there have already been numerous cases of detention and deportation that appear to go far beyond what was occurring in the Obama years. But a closer look at those cases and at the numbers suggests surprisingly more continuity than change. Both the mainstream media and social media have highlighted what appear to be extreme cases of the arrest of DACA (‘deferred action for childhood arrivals’) youth, also known as ‘Dreamers,’ as well as of individuals appearing for routine check-ins with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, or other arbitrary detentions and deportations. Most of these cases, however, have been far more in line with Obama-era policies than readers of such news might imagine. Then, too, ‘low-priority immigrants’ were swept up surprisingly often in what the New York Times in 2014 called ‘the net of deportation.’ …

“The Trump administration’s multipronged approach to immigration relies on and promotes the criminalization of immigrants. Whether halting the entry of refugees or persons with visas from particular countries, hiring thousands of new ICE and Border Patrol agents, promising to build a ‘great, great wall,’ denying federal money to sanctuary cities, or publishing lists of crimes committed by immigrants, Trump’s immigration policies follow in the footsteps but also intensify those of his predecessors and continue to create fear, justify exploitation, and rationalize authoritarianism.”