The American Civil Liberties Union released a report on Donald Trump‘s policy proposals and statements regarding topics including immigration, surveillance, torture, libel, and abortion on Thursday. The report examines constitutional issues with the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee’s stances. Certain proposals are addressed with thorough legal analysis, with case citations and news articles, while others contain bold assertions with far less evidence to support them.
In its discussion of Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, the report makes accusations with hardly anything backing them up. In its discussion of Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, the report says “his wall would be divisive, damage America’s image, and foment discrimination and abuses against people of color.” It even goes so far as to say that the proposal “promises a border security approach akin to the fortified shoot-to-kill zone dividing the Koreas.” But the only evidence it provides to support this is their assertion that “[t]he Border Patrol union expects free rein under a Trump administration, which would mean rampant illegal policing of border communities with more racial profiling, more excessive force, and more dead teenagers.”
A bit dramatic, don’t you think? The idea of a wall along the border is certainly controversial, but a Korea-like kill zone? Did Trump actually propose that, or is the ACLU just imagining a worst-case scenario based on their own attitudes towards the Border Patrol union. I’m not just cherry-picking a couple lines from a more thorough examination of this topic. The rest of it contains brief public policy discussions and references to racially charged comments that Trump has made. Bad? Sure. Is it evidence that our border will turn into Korea? No.
The report is billed as “The ACLU’s Constitutional Analysis of the Public Statements and Policy Proposals of Donald Trump,” but this is about as far from a constitutional analysis as you can get. It’s just a description of a hypothetical nightmare scenario. The only footnote related to this assertion is for a single case where a border patrol officer allegedly shot a Mexican teenager through a border fence, and that case is currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. While the allegations in that case are certainly appalling, if you’re going to base an argument on one case, it’s better if you have one where a decision has actually been reached.
It’s a shame too, because other sections of the report have some pretty insightful discussions of what some of Trump’s proposals mean, as well as how the ACLU could go about fighting them. But they lose credibility when they bury baseless speculation in what is being passed off as legal reasoning.