Trump’s plan to disappear millions

What do you think would happen if one day you looked out your window and saw a box truck pull up and park outside your house, and a bunch of armed men wearing windbreakers got out and knocked on your door and presented you with a piece of paper and then put you in the truck and took you away?  Or worse still, they put you and your entire family in the back of the truck and took all of you away?

Do you think any of your neighbors would come out of their houses and ask the men with the truck what’s going on, who are they, and why are they taking you and your family away?  Would anyone on your block call the police? 


If someone called the police and they bothered to show up – the likelihood of which is another issue entirely, of course – what do you think they would do?  Would the police step in and interfere with the men bundling you and your family into the back of the truck?  Would they ask to see the authority by which the men in the truck are acting?  Would the police demand to know where you are being taken or with whom they can get in touch to confirm your whereabouts and legal status?

Or would the truck simply drive away with you and your family in the back without anyone knowing where you had been taken or for what reason? 

There is a term for what I have just described: being disappeared.  It’s a term that has been used in certain South American countries and in Northern Ireland and probably elsewhere, but stuff like that isn’t supposed to happen in the U.S. People here aren’t just grabbed off the streets or from their houses and taken away.

Or are they?  

Two weeks ago during a live interview on Fox News with Sean HannityCurtis Sliwa and a bunch of his Guardian Angels tackled a man on a New York City street and made what amounted to a citizen’s arrest, accusing him of being “a migrant guy” who was guilty of shoplifting.  It turned out that the man was a U.S. citizen who lived in the Bronx and was not guilty of anything at all.  Sliwa’s assault squad aren’t government agents, but they acted like they were on live television, and when the truth came out about the man they “arrested,” Hannity didn’t correct his original broadcast lies.

In 2019 outside of Houston, Texas, an American citizen was arrested and detained at the South Texas Detention Complex by US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) even though he was carrying a Texas state identification card, a wallet-size copy of his birth certificate showing he was born in Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, and his Social Security card. 

He was held in a small room with only one toilet along with about 60 other men for three weeks before a lawyer hired by his mother could secure his release.  And there have been other instances of American citizens being swept up in ICE and CBP raids.


And now we have the leading presidential candidate for one of our two political parties promising at his rallies and on his social media platform, Truth Social, to “Stop the Invasion, Seal the Border, and Rapidly Begin the Largest Deportation Operation in History.” 

Aides to this candidate, who is openly espousing a fascist agenda if elected, have spoken openly of “rounding up” ten million undocumented immigrants and keeping them in special detention facilities that will be built by the United States Military near the border with Mexico before being deported.  The roundup will include families with small children.  One of the candidate’s close aides, Stephen Miller, has said there will be no attempt made to keep families together while in detention pending deportation.

This is a major part of Donald Trump’s campaign for president.  One of his biggest applause lines at rallies is his promise to carry out immigrant “roundups.” It’s right up there with the chants of “lock him up” that regularly break out when Trump calls Joe Biden “the most corrupt president in history” and promises to “go after” him and his “corrupt family” if elected. 

The question at this point is what would happen if Trump wins the election and starts to carry out his threats.  Would he bother with passing an American version of the Nuremberg laws that authorized the seizure of businesses and property and possessions of the class of people rounded up by the Nazis – Jews and homosexuals and political opponents and university professors and writers and intellectuals and other undesirables such as Roma people and the impoverished and homeless?  Or would Trump sit down on “day one” as he has promised to do and sign executive orders giving the force of law to the promises he has made?

Will the men with their trucks show up at the doors of houses and apartments wearing jackets bearing the letters for immigration enforcement, CPB and ICE?  Or will the men and their trucks be unmarked and unidentifiable, save for the paperwork they carry giving them the authority to disappear people who live down the hallway or across the street from us?

If they can disappear our neighbors, how long do we wait for them to come for us, bearing papers with other charges, such as sedition or obstruction of spurious “governmental proceedings” that have been invented specially for the purpose of arresting political opponents?

The death of Alexi Navalny in a Siberian prison should run chills down all our spines.  He is not the only political opponent of Vladimir Putin who is being held on charges of fomenting anti-government unrest, but he was the most prominent, and because of his fame, we know his fate.  We knew of his attempted murder by poison, we learned of his defiant return to Russia, we learned of his phony arrest and kangaroo court trial and imprisonment, and now we have learned of his death.

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.


Several hundred Russian citizens have been arrested for attending makeshift memorials for Navalny or simply placing flowers on an agreed upon spot in Moscow to mark his passing.  We should be asking ourselves right now, this minute, how many people would show up to protest the arrest of one of those whom Donald Trump has threatened to “go after.”  If Trump gets in office and federal law enforcement officers are sent to the home of anyone with the last name “Biden,” who will be there to stop them?  Will people put their bodies between a Donald Trump authoritarian state and the rule of law?

Trump Plan: Fantasy or a bad Dream

This is not something we should be treating as a fantasy or a bad dream.  We should already be working to get out the vote to beat Donald Trump and his fascist agenda in November, but we should also be planning for arrests without warrants, detention without readily available records so that people can be disappeared into a bottomless bureaucracy, and a propaganda machine that labels any sort of opposition to Trump as equivalent to treason. 

Donald Trump and Republicans

Donald Trump and Republicans are not a political party. They are a fascist movement determined to bend the rule of law so that it applies to us but not to them.  The words “detention camps” should chill us the way Navalny’s death does. 

We don’t want to be the ones standing across the street watching the truck pull away with “there but for the grace of God goes I” on our lips.  We don’t want to one day be saying, “never again.” 

We should stand up and shout “never in the first place” before it begins.  Paraphrasing Ben Franklin, this is our country,  if we can keep it, but only if we’re not disappeared.

Related Posts

1 of 7