As Representative Brad Sherman of California has helpfully pointed out, cryptocurrency is rat poison and only good for drugs and money laundering.
Well, it might be okay if you live in Venezuela or Zimbabwe, or some other military regime where armed potentates have made honest markets impossible. Or in maybe in Turkey or Cyprus, whose elected governments have played the same games with fiat currency.
But no honest American would ever need a stateless, censorship-proof currency…. Right?
The jackboots might be closer than you think. The Miami Herald reported that Bank of America has locked several customers’ accounts due to questions over their immigration status.
Saeed Moshfegh, an Iranian PhD student, found his bank account effectively frozen because his documentation “could not be accepted,” the Herald reported. Although a legal resident for seven years, Moshfegh was left with no access to his savings, and unable to pay for rent or credit card bills.
“This bank doesn’t know how the immigration system works, so they didn’t accept my document,” Moshfegh told the Herald.
Moshfegh joins many immigrants who have found their legal rights curtailed in a country whose attitude to foreigners has become decidedly chilly.
Having a passport isn’t even enough; last month, the Washington Post reported on a Kansas couple—both American-born—who had been locked out of their Bank of America accounts on suspicion that they were not citizens.
There is no indication that Moshfegh owns any cryptocurrencies, but as Crypto Briefing has previously reported, many Iranians are turning to Bitcoin as a refuge for their wealth in advance of another wave of US sanctions. While metals are still the preferred store of value, cryptocurrency—which can be hodled on a phone, a slip of paper or even in a person’s memory—has advantages for people in desperate circumstances.
One might shrug these off as bureaucratic inconveniences, if not for the other canaries that have ominously gone silent. The Washington Post reported that US citizens of Hispanic descent were finding their renewal applications denied by the State Department, or their documents revoked:
In some cases, passport applicants with official U.S. birth certificates are being jailed in immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings. In others, they are stuck in Mexico, their passports suddenly revoked when they tried to reenter the United States.
It doesn’t take a Godwin to point out the echoes of 1938, when the Reich first voided its citizens’ passports and then reissued them with a helpful “J” to identify certain citizens.
That may be a somewhat paranoid comparison, if not for fact that the President of the United States has, as Madeleine Albright notes in the New York Times, “…attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and — jokingly or not — equated mere policy disagreements with treason.”
Immigrants are historically the first targets of oppression in authoritarian regimes. It begins with economic disenfranchisement, and it moves quickly to more ominous measures.
But don’t worry. It can’t happen here.
Unless you don’t vote.
The author has investments in Bitcoin.