Donald Trump's Police State

The Republican nominee’s proposals on public safety would discard the constitutional rights of blacks and Hispanics.

Eric Thayer / Reuters

On many subjects, Donald Trump has given no indication of what he’d do if elected, but he has fleshed out at least two specific elements of his domestic agenda:

  1. Asked what he would do about black-on-black crime, Trump “called for the broad use of the contentious stop-and-frisk policing strategy in America’s cities.” As Trump himself put it, “I would do stop-and-frisk. I think you have to.”
  2. At multiple campaign rallies, he has suggested that he would round up and deport the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. And in his formal speech on immigration policy, he listed various types of people he would round up and deport that total at least half that number: criminals, visa overstays, recent arrivals, and anyone receiving public benefits.

The press has yet to clarify what this would mean in practice.

To make good on these pledges to stop and frisk millions of black people and to round up and deport millions of Hispanics who are in the U.S. without permission, Trump would have to transform America into something so like a police state that it should scare even those who abhor crime and favor many deportations.

Frisking Innocent Black Bodies

In New York City, where Michael Bloomberg presided over most Stop and Frisk policing, the approach involved 4.4 million stops—that is to say, armed agents of the state forced New Yorkers to stop on the street 4.4 million times between 2002 and 2015.

And 88 percent of those stops resulted in no further action!

Put another way, millions who did nothing wrong were needlessly stopped and harassed by police. It could not be more plain that huge numbers of them, the vast majority of whom were black and brown, gave no probable cause to justify a search.

As the New York Times reported in August 2013, Stop and Frisk did not just harass masses of innocents, it violated their constitutional rights: Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin “concluded that the stops, which soared in number over the last decade as crime continued to decline, demonstrated a widespread disregard for the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.”

Trump proposes to impose Stop and Frisk upon communities nationwide—he evidently has as little regard for the Tenth Amendment as he does for the Fourth and Fourteenth.

This would be a civil-liberties nightmare of epic proportions.

Rounding Up and Deport Millions

Unlike deporting unauthorized immigrants who have served time for crimes rather than releasing them back into American communities, or greater enforcement against businesses that hire undocumented labor, the approach of rounding up and deporting many millions more people would require a massive force of armed agents roaming American communities, and would inevitably affect a large number of Hispanics who are legal citizens.

Many legal residents will suffer harassment, as happened in Maricopa County, Arizona, under Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a perpetrator of racial profiling and an ally of Trump.

Tens of thousands of new state agents would be required to carry out such roundups. What percentage of Trump’s newly hired roundup force would be hostile to Hispanics? Would they be armed? How would they be trained? Would they be about as competent at their jobs as TSA agents? Would they knock on doors of Hispanic family homes? Burst into small businesses of people who “look illegal”? How many Americans would be forced to “show their papers” like bygone East Germans? Would the Birther-in-Chief start demanding birth certificates?

This, too, would be a civil liberties nightmare.

Civil-Rights Violations

Donald Trump has a lot of proposals that are constitutionally and logistically suspect. It’s possible that he would never succeed in implementing some of them. But if he does what he says, Trump’s domestic policy would be the worst Republicans have offered blacks and Hispanics since Nixon or even Eisenhower. Millions of innocent, law-abiding blacks and Hispanics would have their rights violated.

Review what Trump is offering by his own account: Stop-and-Frisk for black people, and aggressive roundups of millions of Hispanics. And we haven’t even talked about the many reasons that law-abiding Muslims have to fear a Trump presidency. In past elections, Republicans have complained with some justice that Democrats cry wolf about racism. Now the GOP has gone and nominated the wolf.