The Forgotten Government Plan to Round Up Muslims

In the ’80s, terror led the government to consider something far more extreme than Donald Trump’s ban.

For the first hour, the men discussed the mission their superiors had given them: How to make INS a high-functioning weapon in the Reagan administration’s new war on terror.

.. The memo begins with its summary recommendation: Banning incoming aliens from countries compromised by terrorism; deporting non-immigrant aliens through a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act relating to destruction of government property; rushing through new changes to the Code of Federal Regulations, and circumventing the typical rulemaking procedure to do so; expanding the legal definitions of international terrorism; and calling for intelligence-sharing to facilitate the deportations.

.. The INS’ multi-pronged proposals left little to the imagination, offering two options: a “general registry” and “limited targeting.” In its general registry scenario, the State Department would “invalidate the visas of all nonimmigrants” of the targeted nationalities, “using that as the first step to initiate a wholesale registry and processing procedure.”

.. And it recommended a holding facility in Oakdale, Louisiana, a camp that could “house and isolate” up to 5,000 aliens.

It requested $2 million to develop the 100 grassy acres adjacent to the Oakdale facility with tents and fence materials, which would allow the site to be active on four weeks’ notice.

.. What would happen if the Castro regime collapsed? According to officials at the Justice and Defense Departments, to handle that exodus would require converting some of the largest military installations in the South into mass alien detainment centers

.. The memo notes that an attempt to register en masse lawful aliens of mostly Arab countries is “replete with problems in that it indiscriminately lumps together individuals of widely differing political opinions solely on the basis of nationality.”

.. “They picked for arrest and deportation eight people who were essentially alien activists,” remembers Cole. “They sought to use classified evidence to detain them.

.. “To use a football analogy,” Odencrantz told them, “we don’t care how we score our touchdown, by pass or run. We just want to get them out of the country.”

.. in Los Angeles, the leak of a federal plan to target legal U.S. residents based on their nationality caught the attention of another group: The Japanese American Citizens League.

The organization, whose members carried the memory of the internment camps, came to the public aid of the LA Eight, attending press conferences and distributing flyers in their defense.

.. In 1942, as a 6-year-old, Mineta and his family joined the roughly 120,000 Japanese Americans who were detained and forced from their homes and behind the barbed wire of internment camps hundreds of miles away.

.. Nationally, roughly two-thirds of those interned were citizens. The rest were aliens legally residing in the U.S.

..“All I could think of was in 1942, having been forcibly evacuated and interned, we had to make our own mattresses,” Mineta says. “When we got off the train, the first thing we had to do was get this mattress ticking with hay and straw.

..Such ancillary ideas revive the one that never really disappears; it returns, it seems, every 30 or 40 years—from the Palmer Raids of 1919 to the camps of World War II, from the anxiety of the mid-1980s to the fear inherent in the 2016 race.

.. “This pattern repeats itself every time we face a crisis that creates fear,” he admonishes. “It’s easier to introduce these things if they’re targeted at foreign nationals than when they’re targeted at Americans. The government can say, ‘we’re talking away their liberties for your security.’”