We Must End the Normalization of Mass Criminalization


Immigrant Justice Network responds to President Trump’s regressive immigration executive orders.

Statement by Alisa Wellek (Immigrant Defense Project), Angie Junck (Immigrant Legal Resource Center), and Paromita Shah (National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild), on behalf of the Immigrant Justice Network (IJN):

President Trump’s executive orders on immigration exemplify contempt for the human rights and safety of millions of Americans of color – and if enacted by Congress, will have far-reaching societal consequences beyond their stated scope.

The orders would force the State to move billions away from urgent community needs – such as education, housing, and healthcare – and towards expanding our country’s abuse-ridden detention and deportation infrastructure. Against broad public demand for meaningful reform of both our immigration and criminal legal systems, these misguided directives will subject communities of color, immigrants, Muslims, and other groups who have been deemed “national security threats” to even more abusive targeting, policing, incarceration, and expulsion.

Growing the world’s largest detention and deportation system, in addition to a massive financial contribution, will rest upon the continued demonization and dehumanization of immigrants and others through criminalizing public messaging. Like with the rhetoric around the “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror,” the Trump administration has and will continue to take pages from previous playbooks to continue his “War on Immigrants.” As history shows us, concerted efforts to turn our families, coworkers, and neighbors into “criminal threats” to national security will be a key feature of the federal government’s narrative to legitimate inhumane legislation and practices, such as blitzkrieg-style raids at homes and workplaces.

The Immigrant Justice Network (IJN) joins with numerous organizations, elected leaders, and community members across the country in denouncing the spirit and letter of the proposed actions, as well as the politics of mass criminalization that the Trump agenda embodies. As organizations working with people whose lives and families have been profoundly harmed by our oppressive criminal legal and immigration systems, we will continue to reject efforts to horse-trade human lives and pit communities against each other through criminalizing discourse. To that end, we repudiate the government’s long-held tradition of designating some people as more deserving of rights than others, and encourage our colleagues, allies, and the general public to defend the rights of all people.

The Immigrant Justice Network is a collaboration between the Immigrant Defense Project, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. Since the 1980s, our organizations have protected, defended and expanded the rights of noncitizens in the U.S. impacted by mass incarceration and deportation.
Visit immigrantjusticenetwork.org for more information.


The Immigrant Justice Network is a leading advocacy voice against the criminalization of immigrants in the United States. Grounded in racial justice values, we build power to defend the dignity of all immigrants.