By Glenn Young
All the political players involved in the struggles to find answers about the group of people currently living in the United States classified as DACA (Differed Action on Childhood Arrivals) or TPS (Temporary Protective Status) speak in euphemism. Because they do so, we, as a nation, avoid overtly discussing and addressing the potential consequence of not finding “solutions” for these people.1 However, when we remove all the euphemisms, what we are facing is the United States is about to conduct of one of the largest forced peacetime deportations, – or even better stated- “expulsions” of an “unwanted minority populations” in the history of the world. Under Trump orders; some 1.1 million people are about to be expelled from the United States.
Roughly 800,000 DACA young people, and
Some 325,000 TPS people (200k form El Salvador alone)
Strip everything else away, and that is the real bottom line; continually hid by use of euphemisms. To be able to really stop this action, we need to talk about it for what it really is – a mass deportation of an unwanted minority group; but, also an attempt at a mass deportation of a successful minority group. This apparent contradiction of a group being both unwanted and successful will be discussed as we go along.
Initially, there is a need to state that the debates about DACA/TPS (and in fact, most issues of immigration of non-white people to the United States) tends to follow the standard approaches of other cultures that have conducted mass expulsions; the euphemistic terms used against the people under attack are intended to dehumanize the targeted populations.
While our euphemistic language about the minority group is a bit more polite than other places (we don’t call the targeted group cockroaches or vermin), we see this dehumanizing approach when the members of the anti-immigrant political Right states:
DACA people as only illegal immigrants, and lawbreakers simply by the fact that they are here, and
the TPS people are “opportunist” taking advantage of America’s generosity; people just trying to stay well beyond issues for their seeking crisis relief.
“Dehumanization” was a major part of Trumps opening statement for his campaign (calling Mexican immigrants rapist, etc.”). The “reduced” value of them as people continued for the many on the Right of GOP, on even to how the issues in the brief January 2018 government shutdown was framed when the GOP leadership claimed that the Democrats forced the shutdown for the benefit of “only illegal immigrants” over the needs of the military and children in need of health care. This language use is not only clearly intended to create all forms of barriers between the targeted group and the general population, but to provide a base for treating them as if they virtually have no rights; they, by their very existence, are “outlaws.”
America has a long history of the use of this dehumanizing language, mainly concerning the people who were slaves, and then freedmen and was widely used until the Civil Rights movement helped put an end to overt racism. But it was used, in some form or other against almost every large wave of immigrant who came to the United States seeking refuge. Now, the same approach (a bit more polite) has been revitalized in this debate over immigrants.
However, while the Right is clearly making efforts to dehumanize the DACA/TPS people, the so-called Left, and the Center have their own kind rhetoric that tends to also dehumanize; by idealizing or pitying the DACA/TPS people; by focusing on issues such as breaking up families. The approach of the Left/Center is far more an appeal for “pity” rather than a clear statement of empowerment and protection of the basic human rights of these people.
The Democrats have failed to point out that Trump is demanding the US act in violation of many international norms, and even laws concerning the treatment of minority populations.2
The result is neither argument defines the DACA/TPS populations as fully human and entitled to basic human rights. Both sides hide the fact that the efforts to force the DACA and TPS people, along with the other efforts to expel “non-legal people” (mainly non-white people) out of the United States, is nothing less than a traditional “ethnic cleansing” and outright standard practice by authoritarian governments to rid themselves of “unwanted” and “scapegoated” populations.
As long as we continue to speak about these populations in any other terms, other than a minority population being expelled, we allow “their euphemisms” to dominate the debate. We must stop using their euphemisms and speak about the expulsion of these PEOPLE in clear and overt language.
Unfortunately, to prove the point about the real nature of the DACA/TPS issues, we can get tangled up in all kinds euphemism about this issue, including the very definition of the term “expulsion” or “forced deportation;” along with the multiple other euphemisms used to describe the mass expulsion of people. In academic and political/diplomatic circles there are so many different terms use to categorize various types of expelling of populations. Among the varies terms used (euphemisms) are:
“population transfers,” “forced migration,” displaced persons,” and even simply “relocation” or “resettlement” of populations (along with several other less horrendous sounding terms.)
For whatever reasons, we have also created “subdivisions” to describe different types of these “movements” of people. These include:
“population transfers,” “forced resettlements,” and the one used the most in the United States “deportation.”
The world hardly uses the real, but harsher term, “expulsion” to describe these actions.
One of the “nice language” definitions for these acts is:
“a form of forced migration imposed by state policy or international authority and most frequently on the basis of ethnicity or religion, but also due to economic development.”3
But euphemisms aside, what all these terms really means is the kicking out of “unwanted people” – with the basis of this “unwanted” status varying over time and location (with them being “illegal” as a frequent basis used in the past.) Throughout history, almost all massive expulsions have been given a legal foundation by the powers doing the expelling.4
However, it cannot be stated strongly enough, that again, throughout history, almost all these mass expulsion, under whatever name, occur in relationship to war or “national bifurcation.” Only one particular type of “forced migration” occurs primarily in peacetime - expulsion. 5
Some of non-directly to war historic acts of expulsion, (and should be considered similar to what can be the potential fate of the DACA/TPS populations) include:
Jews expelled from Spain (1492), the numbers vary greatly form a low of some 30,000 to about 150,000) – also the Morisco– or Spanish Muslims (early 1600’s about 300,000.
French from “Arcadia” (now Nova Scotia) (1750’s) 15,000 – who became the Cajuns of Louisiana
Stalin kicking out the Tartars from the Crimea (1944); 190,000
The “Trail of Tears” Native American expulsions (1830’s); 125,000 (not counting so many other incidences of ethnic cleansing against Native Americans.) and
Myanmar and the Rohingya (present day) - Estimates of 400,000 -650,000
It must clearly be noted that the Rohingya are being expelled by the Myanmar government based on calling them “illegal immigrants.” Both the government, and the use of that term, has been condemned throughout most of the world, including by the United States. Yet, we are about to do something similar to perhaps twice the number of people.
It could be argued that all of these events were actually also attributed to war related issues; but technically, the populations expelled were not overtly involved in the issues of the war at the time of the expulsion.
If we use these historical expulsions as the base line, what is about to happen to the DACA/TPS population in the United States dwarfs these other numbers.
If we compare what is about to happen to DACA/TPS people, to one of the most controversial “events” of the Twentieth Century, the “mass movement” of the people Armenians population of Turkey (1915 -16) simply avoiding here the debate if it was a deliberate genocide or not, the number of Armenians involved in this “event” were about the same number of people, around 1.1 million, as the DACA and TSP currently facing mass deportation. And, this event took place while Turkey was fighting, and losing, a desperate war of survival (World War I.)
And again – unlike what was going on in Turkey, or in Russia with the Tatar deportation, or with the Arcadians or Native Americans, there presently is absolutely no war, or threat of war, or even history of war, that would in any way “justifies” a mass expulsion of this population.
Absent the issue of war, or issues of loyalty, we come down to one very traditional reason for expulsions – the DACA/TPS people are a “minority” that somehow challenges or threatens “the majority.” Their very expulsion is based on nothing more than this threat.
I think the threat created by DACA/TPS comes from something beyond just color, or religion, although they are all included; it comes from their very success they are experiencing in the county. Despite all of Trump and GOP attacks on this population as illegals, killers, and rapist, and all the legal barriers placed in their paths by both parties, many of these people are “fully participation in the American Dream. And, as odd as it may sound, the fact they are doing quite well, in facts, helps to explain why the efforts to expel them is something that fits “comfortable” into the horrible historic tradition of mass expulsions.
To understand the attack on DACA/TPS populations, we really need to look at other similar “peacetime” expulsion events. The main comparison that fits best is that of the numerous expelling of Jews from various countries of Europe.6 The history of these repressions and expulsions is vastly too extensive to detail here;7 but one example filled with irony needs to be included. What is not well known, is that some fifty years before Hitler, the Czar of Russia came up with an interesting “final solution” to his “Jewish problem” which was a form of hybrid of traditional attacks on minorities. The official policy of the Russian state towards Jews, starting around 1880, was:
1/3 forced conversion, 1/3 extermination (preferably through starvation), and 1/3 expulsion
This Russian “peacetime attack” on a minority population policy is perhaps the only one that does surpass the current potential possibilities in the United States; an estimated 3,000,000 plus Jews fled Russia as a direct result of the new Czarist policies. The irony of course is that back then, for so many Jews, the United States was the point of refuges for those facing the approaching “Democide” (a term used for when a state makes war on their own people.)8 It can well be argued that the US is about to commit an act of Democide similar to that implemented by the policies of the Czar.
When we look at the history of the expulsion of the Jews of the past, we find they were not just expelled because of religion, or color, or in those cases, perhaps coloring, but Jews were expelled because that had become successful.9 Despite all the restrictions placed on them, their wealth and success (or, at least the wealth and success of some of them) seemed to contradict the religious and cultural beliefs of the majority. In some ways, the feelings of the majority – in this case poor Christians, could be simply explained by asking:
How could a Jew prosper, if he did not worship Christ?
Despite all the euphemisms created against the Jews by the majority (Christ killers, baby killers, well poisoners, the cause plagues and so much more), the Jews were continually attacked, not for their failings, but for their successes. Their very success seemed to confront the majority as an insult.10 The mass of the “good Christian people” of Europe where left asking:
Why didn’t God make us more successful than the Jews?
What was true for the Jews then, seems to be true for the DACA and TPS populations, now. Today, the question among the less successful (good Christian) anti-immigrant mass in the United States is:
How can the DACA/TPS people prosper when they are not white, and don’t speak good English, and are Catholic, etc. - These are the same arguments against immigrants put forward by the Ku Klux Klan, one hundred years ago, and continues to be the basis for much of the resentments of the poor and working class white populations of today.
Successful minorities make the poor whites “look bad.” So, to avoid acceptance of their own failures, they must blame with the successful minority groups. Now these whites are demanding the traditional attack against successful minority; repression, and then expulsion.
Just like the Jews of the past, the DACA/TPS populations are being attacked because they are successful, or at least perceived by the poor, white, failing, working class, as being too successful. Therefore, all the facts that are brought out by the Left/Center of how good this population is doing – the “how well so many of them are doing argument” against expulsion, actually makes the white “non-successful” populations more inflamed, and more demanding that the minority be expelled.
We, as a nation, have been somewhat schizophrenic, or perhaps, just have a split personality, about “successful” immigrants. Our mythology (our euphemisms) declares us to be “a nation of immigrants” and the Statue of Liberty one of our most recognizable symbols. Yet, there is another strain of our history referred to as “Nativism,” which has rejected the inclusion of mass groups of immigrants since the first arrival of large numbers of Irish in the 1820’s.11 These two forces, pro and anti-immigrant, have been involved in an on-going internal political and social war for close to two hundred years. Mostly the Nativist were on the losing side of these conflicts; but not always.
This “Nativist current” clearly maintained control of the South for most of American history, and at times the West (leading to the banning of immigration from expulsion of East Asia to California, and even localized expulsions of Asians from local areas.)12 Often the Nativist minorities were able to control a great deal of public polices by their stranglehold of congressional and senatorial seats.
We have also seen this “Nativist” mentality used not only against immigrants, but in the long history of similar mentality, against the Black slave, and then the Blacks as Freedmen. We need to remember that too much success on a part of a Black during Jim Crow era was in invitation to attack by the Klan and other forces. There is an argument to be made that the “Great Migration” of Blacks from the South13 to the rest of the country starting from about 1910-1960 was an event that followed the similar pattern of “unwanted minority groups” – with first repression (Jim Crow), and then expulsion based on economic issues - (starting in part with the boll weevil disaster, and then the mechanization of the cotton industry.)14 In that case, the expulsion was based on an unwanted, now “surplus population.”
There have been times when the Nativist gained control of not just regions of the country, but the national government as well. Their most successful period was during the 1910’s through the 1920’s, when the Nativist movement – at first, through the nationalization and incredible success of the Ku Klux Klan in that time held sway over the nation. In fact, three presidents in a row (Wilson, Harding and Coolidge) were members of the KKK, and strongly supported the Nativist views. While in power, the Nativist supporters passed some of the most restrictive, racist, immigration legislation in American history, including the 1924 Johnson–Reed Act.15
It is clear, that today, through the Republican Party, once again, the Nativist are back in charge of national government. With the election of Donald Trump, the Nativist strain has regained national political power; and much of what Trump is proposing today concerning “immigration reform” policy is simply a recreation of this Klan legislation of the 1920’s (undone during the Johnson administration.)
Today, on so many levels, and, in so many efforts, the “white reactionary forces,” or simply the “Nativists,” (so similar to the old Klan of the 1920’s) are trying to take us back to the time when minority success was something to be punished: When minority success was seen, not as something to celebrate, but as a direct attack on the power of the white majority, and to the philosophical framework of Nativist thinking. These Nativist are faced with the same type of question asked about the success of the Jews -
If the white Anglo Saxon Christian is superior to minorities and followers of other religions – why are they doing better than us?
When no good answer comes – the action is the same as those used against the Jews:
Therefore, if we don’t change the debate, and speak in plain direct language – devoid of euphemisms (well, as best we can), and nothing is done to recognize the basic human rights of these people, the United States – the beacon of freedom (there’s another euphemism) - will conduct a mass expulsion on a scale almost unknown in the world in peacetime.
The number of DACA/TPS people expelled from the US with be about one tenth the number of Jews expelled from Spain, and ironically the expulsions will be for much the same reasons.
But in some way, the Jews of that time had vastly more choices than that of the DACA/TPS people; they could convert to Catholicism and stay (and vastly more did than leave). But the DACA/TPS people have no such choice; they will be expelled because they have been successfully dehumanized, and they became a threat to those who are not doing what DACA/TPS populations have been doing – learning to succeed in America. It is the very act of being “American” (or successful immigrants) that the Nativist hate, and is the very reason that the DACA/TPS people may be getting expelled.
When we add it all up – the political power of the reactionary whites Nativist, the return to Klan values and policies, the power of the Right to dehumanize, and a minority group on the rise; “What we have here” sounds like the makings of an old traditional (whatever euphemisms we want to use) “ethnic cleansing;” “forced migration;” “relocation” or just another case of expulsion of an unwanted minority population that is the wrong color, wrong religion and too successful.
Sounds like the United States will commit a crime against humanity larger than most in peacetime history and, like all who have done so before us, we will find the right euphemistic term to justify it.
1 The variation of what “solution” means to different groups in this country cannot expressed here. The use of the word can be a euphemism for full expulsion to full citizenship and extensive points in between.
2 When discussing international law on expulsions there should be a note of irony – since most of the laws in the world today against expelling of populations came about through the successful defeating of Fascism by the United States (and many other nations). After the war it was US pressure that led to policies and laws that made expelling “unwanted populations.” For example:
Charter of the Nuremberg Trials of German Nazi leaders declared forced deportation of civilian populations to be both a war crime and a crime against humanity.
The 1998 International treaty that Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 7) states that “Deportation or forcible transfer of population" is defined as a crime against humanity. (The US helped establish this treaty, and then withdrew from it
The United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (1993) states, that for the [a mass population] transfer to comply with human rights standards as developed, prospective transferees must have an option to remain in their homes if they prefer.
4 Prior to expulsion of Jews the rulers of a nation would first declare them as illegals to then justify expulsion orders,
5 It is estimated that between wars and forced economic relocations, perhaps as many as two hundred million people faced this event during the 20th Century alone. Most were in China and Russia, but other included many “population exchanges” with the largest being between Greece and Turkey (1920’s); (around 1.6 million people involved) and India and Pakistan (1947/8) around 14 million displaced – possible 2 million died. Some of the recent largest “dislocated populations” events are the Kosovo War of 1999, with around 800,000 Albanians (out of a population of about 1.5 million) “dislocated,” and Syrian/Iraqi/ISIS conflicts 2012 to present: close to 9 million, refugees and displaced persons. There have also been major “population exchanges” in various African nations, based on local ethnic cleansing attacks (another euphemism for genocide, or democide.)
6 The later expelling of the Moriscos from Spain was for similar reasons. There is also similarities to the attack against Blacks by the Klan and others during the Reconstruction period, and later.
7 For a listing of Jewish expulsions over 2,000 years see http://www.eretzyisroel.org/~jkatz/expulsions.html
8 And more irony, is that the grandparents of Stephen Miller the main anti-immigrant voice in the Trump administration is a descendant of some of these immigrants; as well as myself and so many others who are in support of DACA/TPS populations.
9 For a detailed explanation of this cause for Jewish expulsion see Worlds on Fire by Amy Chua.
10 Of course, expulsion gave the kings and nobles a good reason not to pay back the massive loans given them by Jews, giving another reason why the success of the Jews led to their expulsion.
12 For a review of anti-Asian legislations please see http://angryapihistory.tumblr.com/post/50016448077/anti-immigrant-anti-asian-laws
14 The insect crossed the Rio Grande near Brownsville, Texas, to enter the United States from Mexico in 1892 and reached southeastern Alabama in 1909. By the mid-1920s, it had entered all cotton-growing regions in the U.S., travelling 40 to 160 miles per year. It remains the most destructive cotton pest in North America. Since the boll weevil entered the United States, it has cost U.S. cotton producers about $13 billion, and in recent times about $300 million per year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boll_weevil
15 These racist anti-immigrant laws limited immigration of Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Jews, and virtual banned all Muslims; completely banned the immigration of Arabs, as well as people from China, Korea, and Japan; and severe restrictions on immigration from most other areas of Asia. Severely limited immigrations from Southern and Eastern Europeans, especially Italians and Slavs, as well as immigration of Black Africans.