As the country reels from the longest government shutdown in history, we are facing a national emergency declaration and a deal rife with so-called “border security” measures that only serve to further militarize our borders. It’s the latest episode in the long-running “crisis” that President Trump has manufactured to criminalize and attack migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.
Now Trump will gain another powerful ally to support his extremist vision with the Senate confirmation of William Barr as attorney general. While the Republicans have positioned Barr as a seasoned former attorney general and the Democrats are focused on whether he will interfere in the Mueller investigation, it is Barr’s prior experience that reveals what kind of attorney general we should expect when it comes to the president’s views on immigration.
Throughout Barr’s career, he has consistently promoted anti-immigrant and racist policies that overwhelmingly criminalize people of color. As attorney general under George H. W. Bush, Barr tried to take away due process rights for all immigrants with criminal convictions by proposing unconstitutional “summary deportation proceedings” and justified sending 12,000 Haitian refugees to prison at Guantánamo Bay simply because some were HIV positive.
But Barr’s extremist world views didn’t stop in the 1990s. In 2018, he wrote in The Washington Post applauding Jeff Sessions’s work at the Department of Justice (DOJ), which included the implementation of the “zero-tolerance” policy and attempted prosecution and imprisonment of all migrants (including those with children) arrested after crossing the border. Barr saluted the expansion of Operation Streamline, a program that establishes an altogether separate and unequal court, devoid of due process and equal protection, designed to facilitate the mass prosecution and imprisonment of immigrants for crossing the border — an act that equates legally to a misdemeanor traffic violation….