Trump’s immigration plan: Is WA ready for mass sweeps with state troops?

by Nina Shapiro at

At a protest encampment outside the Tacoma gates of one of the largest immigrant detention centers in the country, activist Maru Mora Villalpando said she was ready for whatever the presidential election might bring.

She and other activists who set up the encampment aren’t happy with President Joe Biden’s detention policies. The number of people his administration has detained at the 1,575-bed Northwest ICE Processing Center has climbed to roughly 800 from about 200 during the height of the pandemic. A man died there March 7 for reasons yet unknown.

And Biden’s stance toward immigration has become increasingly tough as the southern border crisis moves to the forefront of the national agenda.

Yet, Mora Villalpando said she knows the policies she deplores will accelerate if former President Donald Trump returns to office.

“We feel more prepared than ever,” she said, pointing to a network of activist groups locally and around the country willing to engage in aggressive civil disobedience.

But are activists really ready? Is Washington?

Trump and his team have laid out a plan for mass roundups of undocumented immigrants and large detention camps holding people awaiting deportation flights. Stephen Miller, a top Trump adviser, said in a November podcast this “monumental” effort would seek to remove at least 10 million undocumented immigrants throughout the country.

Such a crackdown would be far more severe than actions taken under the previous Trump administration. Immigration officials then caused turmoil and panic in some parts of the country, like Washington’s rural Pacific County, by arresting longtime community members, but ultimately carried out fewer deportations than under former President Barack Obama.

To scale deportations up, Miller envisions calling upon National Guard troops. In “unfriendly” states, troops from neighboring cooperative jurisdictions would be sent in. Following this model, one could imagine red-state Idaho’s National Guard descending upon Washington, one of the most hostile states to Trump there is.

Hyperbole? Pasco Mayor and Republican attorney general candidate Pete Serrano thinks so. “I don’t foresee that being a reality,” he said.

Former U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Nick Brown, a Democrat running for the same office, isn’t so sure, suggesting it would be wise to take the former president and his adviser at their word. “We need to have a real wake-up call,” he said.