by Mark Naison
June 27, 2019
What Could Happen If Trump Tries to Deport Children and Families
Do not assume that Donald Trump’s planned deportation raids will produce the results he intends- unless his goal is the bring the nation to the edge of Civil War.
In places where public sentiment is strongly against such policies, I.C.E. Agents may face such massive civil disobedience that they will need US military escorts to carry out their mission, since local police will not cooperate and governors will not send the national guard in support.
There are two examples from US History which anticipate such a scenario.
The first took place after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in 1850. In response, Abolitionists not only hid escaped slaves from government agents and private detectives trying to capture them, they organized large groups of people to surround houses where fugitives had been cornered and dared agents to shoot their way in. As a result, in places where anti slavery sentiment was strong, such as Boston. it became impossible to enforce the new law. This virtual nullification of the Fugitive Slave Law was one of the major reasons behind the rise of secessionist sentiment in the South.
The second took place during the early years of the Great Depression in large sections of the Bronx. As thousands of families were being thrown into the street for non payment of rent, radicals began employing a novel tactic. Every time a family was thrown into the street, they would organize groups of outraged neighbors to put the furniture back. Since it cost money to carry out an eviction, if you did this often enough, it was actually cheaper to keep families in apartments than keep calling in marshalls to throw them out. When outraged landlords decided to get the police to accompany marshalls, they sometimes faced thousands of people deployed on streets and rooftops to resist the police. So effective we’re these tactics that by 1932, it became almost impossible to carry out evictions in Bronx neighborhood such as Bronx Park East and Crotona Park East that we’re radical strongholds.
It may seem that enforcing a law is a relatively straightforward thing. But enforcing a law that is widely viewed as unfair and unjust can produce such massive resistance as to render it unenforceable.
Mark Naison is a Professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University. He founded the Bronx African American History Project.
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