The Trump administration just released its first weekly compilation of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in American sanctuary cities, a move which is nearly identical to a similar publication put out by the Nazis about Jewish Germans in the years leading up to World War II.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Declined Detainer Outcome Report was created by one of President Trump’s executive orders. The listed crimes include such offenses as drug possession, domestic violence, and DUIs, also making a point to note the immigrant’s country of origin.
Many of the immigrants listed, it should be noted, have not yet been convicted of their crimes.
It has become something of a cliche in contemporary politics to compare an unpopular figure to the practices of Nazi Germany, but this report is quite literally straight out of Hitler’s playbook. The Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a regular segment titled the “Letter Box,” which regularly published accounts of Jewish crimes. The segment was launched by Hitler’s operatives after the majority of Germans did not participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933 as a way to inflame anti-Semitic sentiment.
In The Nazi Conscience, Duke historian Claudia Koonz notes that the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a feature called “Letter Box,” which published readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. When the Nazis took power, the German state began doing something similar. Frustrated by the failure of most Germans to participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s government began publicizing Jewish crime statistics as a way of stoking anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, the historian Saul Friedlander notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could publicize it.
Trump’s defenders might claim that what he’s doing differs from these prior examples. He’s publicizing the crimes of a legal group—illegal immigrants—not a religious, ethnic, or racial one. But in the United States in 2017, talking about “illegal immigrants” is like talking about “welfare mothers” or “crack dealers” in 1987. The racial implication is clear. Trump made it so himself in his announcement speech when he said that, “When Mexico sends its people…They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
–Peter Beinart, Trump Scapegoats Unauthorized Immigrants for Crime