WaPost Editorial: “Trump Weaponizes the Pandemic”
Throughout the Trump presidency, President Trump and Stephen Miller have relentlessly advanced a cruel anti-immigrant agenda to maintain the president’s political connection with his base and to pursue the long-sought policy goals of the nativist fringe. Now, they are using the pandemic to go even farther and to justify the fulfillment of remaining policy goals, such as ending asylum. Observers are calling out the administration.
In an Arizona Cronkite News story highlighting how the Trump administration has shut the border and ended asylum, reporter Joshua Gerard Gargiulo quotes Ur Jaddou, the Director of DHS Watch (a project of America’s Voice) noting how COVID-19 has been used to justify long-sought anti-immigrant policy goals:
‘That was a goal from Day One, and he found the perfect opportunity to do it,’ said Ur Jaddou, an expert at America’s Voice … ‘[Trump] failed to acknowledge the issue at hand … saying multiple times, ‘This virus is a hoax,’ … ‘And when they did acknowledge it, the first thing he decided to do is close the borders’ … turning away ‘people who are leaving their home countries to come to the United States … escaping more than sickness’ … ‘People are fleeing from kidnapping, rape, murder. Things where, if they go bad, it may be life-or-death.’
A Washington Post editorial, “At the U.S.-Mexico border, Trump weaponizes the pandemic,” similarly captures:
Enshrined in law for four decades, the system that allows persecuted migrants to seek refuge in the United States has survived sustained assaults since the Trump administration took office. Now Mr. Trump, having weaponized a public health crisis to ignore long-established statutes, rules and procedures, has finally managed to crush it.
…it is precisely in times of emergency that any country faces its most severe tests — ones that call into question the nation’s essential character and values. It shames itself when it fails to live up to those qualities and values, as the United States did when it forcibly imprisoned more than 100,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II. That is what Mr. Trump is doing now by betraying this country’s long tradition as a beacon to those fleeing oppression.”
The consequences of the Trump administration’s continued cruelty and advancement of anti-immigrant policies are quite literally life or death – for the tens of thousands of ICE detainees being kept in close quarters to the deportations of Haitians to a country ill-equipped to handle the virus, to the families stuck with no place to go and staying in crowded, dangerous, and unsanitary conditions in places such as Matamoros, Mexico.
A disturbing New York Times op-ed by journalist Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, “The Impending Mass Grave Across the Border From Texas,” spotlights those stuck in Matamoros and the broader risk to undocumented populations throughout the U.S. – chiding the Trump administration and other observers for not actually finding ways to help those at grave risk:
“This is a mass killing of vulnerable people of color, preyed on because they dreamed of a better life. Despite the worry now about the asylum-seekers in Matamoros, no one is rushing to help them. People are just rushing to read about this impending mass grave.
…President Trump believes the medical community’s insistence on quarantine is a conspiracy to destroy his presidency. My parents are among the aging, immunocompromised and undocumented in New York City. If they get sick, they will die. The Trump administration will not help us. We migrants, on the border, or here in New York, are left to fend for ourselves.