A constitutional crisis is looming

President Trump has opened the door to a humanitarian and a constitutional crisis, the likes of which this country has seen only a handful of times in our nearly 250-year history.

ICE, acting under Trump’s direction, has stepped up random checkpoints. Recently such a checkpoint was set up on an interstate highway in Maine, where drivers were stopped by agents and not allowed to continue until they answered questions about their citizenship. Another checkpoint in Cleveland, Ohio was widely reported this week. This is another constitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against random and arbitrary stops and searches.

“Zero tolerance” immigration policies and indefinite detention, and Trump’s call for suspension of due process, paves the way for a dangerous policy that could deport any person at any time, for virtually any reason. He tweeted recently, “When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court cases, bring them back from where they came.” Any first-year law student will tell you, this is blatantly unconstitutional. Due process in this country is afforded to all within our borders, whether legal or undocumented.

To have a sitting president make such a suggestion is unprecedented. To suggest that anybody be denied due process is a blatant assault against the Constitution. Legal scholars agree that due process is guaranteed to all persons within US borders, regardless of immigration status, and regardless of how they arrived. (see Zadvydas v Davis, which concluded, “the Due Process Clause applies to all persons within the United States, including aliens, whether their presence is lawful, unlawful, temporary, or permanent.”)

The most recent and relevant example of Constitutional violation came at the hands of Franklin Roosevelt during the second world war, who authorized the internment of Japanese citizens without cause and without due process. Plans recently released call for the US Navy to create huge detention centers for immigrants on remote bases in California, Alabama and Arizona, which according to Navy internal memos are meant to be “temporary and austere” tent cities. The parallels between what is surely to be massive detention centers and the Japanese internment camps are shocking.

Not to mention Trump’s contention that he has authority to open or close any Justice Department investigation, or pardon anyone – including himself – at any time and for any reason. Not only would it be unconstitutional for Trump to pardon himself from any crimes Justice accuses him of, it borders on dictatorship.

 

 

 

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