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Passive Protest and the Census Citizenship Question

Passive protest suggestion:  I plan to leave the citizenship question blank on the upcoming US Census, even though I am a US citizen.  If every resident in the United States, or as many as learn about this idea and are willing to do so, do not answer this question, it may skew the results so much, that the Federal government will withdraw the form and reissue it without the citizenship question – which is most likely a ploy to flush out more illegal “aliens” for deportation.  The aggressive actions of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has chilled movement of even legal immigrants in communities and at work, since the Gestapo-like tactics have implicated whole families; many people of all ages who have lived in America their entire lives are being deported to countries they have never even visited, where they are separated from their relatives, and where they are in many cases in danger of their lives.

But this is no concern of Donald Trump, in his (white) nationalist quest for a homogenous, white, (right-wing) Christian America.  Border “security” is one campaign pledge he plans to fulfill.

In early April 2018, “Defense” Secretary James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis (whom a military insider I interviewed Dec. 31, 2017 confirmed committed war crimes in Fallujah, Iraq) approved funding for 4000 National Guard troops to be deployed to the US-Mexico border through Sept. 30 of this year, after Trump, alarmed at a Fox News report, tweeted a need to stop “hordes” of mostly young Central American refugees migrating to Mexico, and some trying to enter the US.

From July 2010 to Sept. 2011, Pres. Obama deployed Operation Phalanx, which cost $110 million.  George W. Bush before him spent $1.2 billion of taxpayer money from 2006-2008 to station 1200 troops at the Mexican border.  Leaders in both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and National Guard, as well as civilian critics, deemed the efforts ineffective.  And Trump wants to send more than three times as many as Bush, Jr. did.

As of June 1, Guard units have reportedly “helped” with over 1200 arrests and seizure of more than 1300 pounds of marijuana, even though the US government has stated that troops are not allowed to interact with migrants.  However, border patrol agents routinely detain and incarcerate arrivals at the southern border, including ones seeking legal asylum from murderous gangs, sex traffickers, and militarized death-squad police and paramilitary militia, as in Honduras, where an illegitimate regime supported by the US is killing many of its own citizens indiscriminately.  (The US government deemed the Honduran elections “fair,” but condemned the Venezuelan ones “illegitimate” in advance.  Hundreds of international observers agreed than the latter nation’s process was “rigorous” and “possibly the fairest in the world.”)

Even conservative officials like Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of DHS, admits that last year, 2017, there were historic lows of illegal traffic attempting to cross the southern border.  So why the vociferous emphasis on illegal migration and immigration?

As said above, it is a political and ideological stance.  This administration has appointed and nominated (with a very complacent Congress, even supporting torturers) largely token minorities (like clueless Ben Carson), and primarily good looking or billionaire women.  The program is in line with white supremacist (and strictly heterosexual) objectives. Just as conservatives, libertarians, and ultra-conservatives believe in strong boundaries between the sexes, property, and individual rights and liberties, including gun ownership, that ideology applies to national boundaries and ethnic prejudices.

The recent spike in illegal immigrant figures this year is due to a greatly increased aggressive policy by ICE, including a preference of detainment over the previous Obama-era “catch and release,” and a stated punitive stance toward adults with children in tow.  Many would-be immigrants are being arrested, detained for extended periods, and deported – not having been charged with any crime. Officials in the Trump administration have stated that separating parents from their children is a good way to deter illegal immigration.

Young children in states such as Texas have been detained for extended periods in bare, concrete rooms with no furniture and neon lights on 24 hours a day.  Some cells are very cold and some are sweltering with heat. One seven year old girl was detained at Hidalgo, TX in a freezing cold room and only given one thin sheet for 15 days after a grueling 10 day walk from El Salvador, alone after being separated from her older cousin, who was released after two days.  She was escaping danger and poverty in her home country. She called the room an hielera, an “ice box” in Spanish.  “It was cold, very cold. The lights were on all the time, and the floor was hard.  I couldn’t sleep. I was hungry all the time.”

Many children have been falsely labeled gang members.

ICE and the Trump administration, as well as the former Obama and Bush, Jr. regimes, have been breaking the law.  The federal lawsuit Flores v. Reno resulted in a 1997 consent decree that is supposed to protect children from arbitrary detention, harsh conditions and lengthy stays – no more than 72 hours at most.  Congress passed further protections for children in 2008, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

To their credit, governors in Oregon and Nevada have stated opposition and non-cooperation with Trump’s request to send troops to the Mexican border.  California Governor Jerry Brown has agreed to send 400, but with a specific statement of disparagement for Trump’s immigration policies, and a strict order that the National Guard only target criminals, and “not a mission to round up women and children.”

It should be noted that a passive protest of large numbers of citizens and non-citizen residents alike abstaining from checking both the citizen and noncitizen box on the general census form may backfire.  Federal funding is determined in part by census figures.  Demographics are used in everything from education allotments for literacy programs, to block grants to individual states for research and training, to medical assistance and supplemental nutrition, to law enforcement terrorism and anti-gang prevention and abstinence education in schools, as well as programs to help seniors with housing – and more than 100 other allocations utilizing census data.  Business and industry depend on Census Bureau data to make decisions concerning markets and expansion. However, I believe that the understaffed and inept current administration will be rendered dumbfounded by a large unexpected reduction, and that such a demonstration could work.

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