Update: As I am writing this the effects of Trump's ban have already spiraled into mass mobilizations across the country. I'm posting this and heading out to Denver International Airport, where hundreds have gathered to protest detainment of those coming back home. Stand for something now. This is the time. For more on the protests, click here.
Fortress America is an academically recent sociological idea. What we are seeing in America is the expansion of this idea to match it's more vulgar, more violent European counterpart and a new era of American isolationism rooted in the emptying of the American melting pot. Or, more accurately, the extinguishing of the fire upon which that pot boils, but more on that later.
A bit of backstory. Fortress America is historically rooted in notions of White flight from urban areas and the gating off of wealthy, white suburbs to create secured communities (*secured communities, it should be noted, is also the name of a policing strategy). But there are broader notions at play. Internally partitioning ourselves, first by de jure policy and then by de facto processes, has been a precursor to the internationalizing of American White flight.
This American 'Fortress' iteration is based on a slightly older model of non-economic isolationism called Fortress Europe. Taken to European extremes, Fortress America recreates the ideas of the 1992 continentalization process of the European Union as well as their move to limit in-migration from refugees, specifically, but also from migrants coming from undesirable nation-states.
In 1992, the European Economic Community was radically transformed giving birth to the European Union. Aiming at further advancing European integration, member states were committed to collaborate and unify their approach in a large number of new policy fields as, for example, migration and asylum.
1992: Fortress Europe
The practical effects of the EU origination agreements on migration, whether legal or undocumented, whether for asylum or refuge or a better life, were pronounced: an ever more stringent approach to dealing with newcomers and drafting restrictive legislation to [set] up specially trained police forces guarding the borders. Sounding familiar yet?
I'm sure we all noticed the strains (whether actual or conjured by the European right wing imagination) in Europe during the Libyan migrant crisis. Much of this inter-state strain in the EU was exactly because of violations of intentions of the EU charter to limit such massive waves of refugees.
Which brings us back to America. Walls are an ancient idea. The Irish built them, the Romans built them, and most recently, the Israeli's built their own apartheid wall. America's original walls were the natural features of the land and the strategic locating of indigenous people's reservations where they could be contained and limited from access to White lands. In fact, it has been argued rather well that our entire immigration law system is rooted less in maintenance of American sovereignty but in limiting access of undesirable races. We are not the melting pot we think we are.
The American melting pot idea, however, is under attack. To be clear, the melting pot is a myth of racial diversity. According to the original play, by Israel Zagwell, the 'melting pot' was about God mixing the races of Europe together to create, with foreshadows of Hitler's super-race, the great American White race:
Understand that America is God's Crucible, the great Melting-Pot where all the races of Europe are melting and re-forming!
Because of this fact, it has been speculated that the fire upon which this great cauldron of whiteness boiled was fueled by the burning of the excluded bodies; the native savage, the African slave. When Trump attacks the melting pot, in the way he currently is, he is not attacking Whiteness, obviously, but the inclusion of non-White bodies in the American crucible. All non-White bodies are under attack. Shout out to my undocumented family.
Given a series of unfortunate, global, western controlled events and our own election, Trump believes he was given a racial-national defense mandate and he is supported in his cause by an emboldened right wing political class and alt-Right neo-Nazis who push a White supremacist agenda. The outcome we must all suffer makes right wing political sense.
Now, this rightward push was to be expected under any republican administration. Arguably, however, Trump's brash, uninformed, and vitriolic response to facts has been an accelerant. What are we facing now?
Trump's administration has, according to FP.com:
1. Banned refugees from seven Arab states. That is, 'indefinitely freezes the entry of refugees from Syria, and bars for at least three months an almost unlimited group of travelers from Syria other “terror-prone” countries in the Middle East and North Africa, deeming their entry would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States."'
2. Revoked current visas and green cards, a move that is specifically injurious to students and professionals who travel.
3. Ceased trips to interview refugee applicants, despite there being millions still in camps struggling to survive.
4. Suspended the entire U.S. refugee admissions program for at least four months.
5. Cut the refugee admissions program roughly in half, to 50,000 for fiscal year 2017, once it resumes.
We must all be prepared for the worst:
On Friday, the American Immigration Lawyers Association posted a travel warning directing attorneys to consider advising clients who might be affected by Trump’s forthcoming executive order to refrain from traveling abroad or, if already outside the country, to return as quickly as possible.
And what is the point of all the fear mongering and refugee limitations? According to Trump:
“We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people. We will never forget the lessons of 9/11.”
Our president, in 2017, is drawing on the fears of 2011 to impose draconian, anti-Muslim, racist laws on the world. It should be noted that countries in the Middle East that Donald Trump has business ties with were excluded from his order.
Stay strong, friends. #ResistTrump
Want to argue foreign policy, immigration, or need help connecting to folks who can assist with legal advice? Get at me on Twitter at @theG_ist. As always, #DeLaVacaLovesYou