In a leafy Detroit suburb last March, federal authorities raided a one-story brick house. Their target: Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, a 23-year-old restaurant worker from El Salvador with two deportation orders, a DUI, and a hit-and-run.
The incident would have seemed like a standard deportation case, except for a key detail unearthed by The Detroit News: The feds didn’t find Carcamo-Carranza through traditional detective work. They found him using a cell-site simulator, a powerful surveillance device developed for the global war on terror.
Five days after his election, Donald Trump announced his plan to quickly deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants—“people that are criminal,” “gang members,” “drug dealers.” How would he do it? How would he deport more people, more quickly, than any of his recent predecessors? The Carcamo-Carranza case suggests an answer: After 9/11, America spent untold sums to build tools to find enemy soldiers and terrorists. Those tools are now being used to find immigrants. And it won’t just be “bad hombres.”
There’s a lot to Trump’s tactics that are very old. Trump seeks to ban Muslim immigrants, spy on mosques, and subject Muslims to extreme border interrogations. In the Chinese exclusion of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the U.S. government banned most Chinese immigrants, sent investigators to spy on their businesses, and subjected them to extreme border interrogations. In 2017, Trump allies defend the Muslim ban by saying it’s not a Muslim ban, but a geographic ban on people from certain “areas of the world.” In 1917, Congress banned Indian immigrants not by name, but by drawing a box around the region and calling it an “Asiatic Barred Zone.”