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In a letter, first obtained by NBC’s Julia Ainsey, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen “will ask Congress for the authority to deport unaccompanied migrant children more quickly, to hold families seeking asylum in detention until their cases are decided and to allow immigrants to apply for asylum from their home countries.” In other words, DHS will be asking for more money and more authority to deport children, hold families, and gut asylum, which is precisely what they have asked for in the past and has been rejected by Congress multiple times.
This latest development reveals – as we suspected – that the last several weeks have been an elaborate public relations push by Trump and Co. to push blame for the failed border policy onto Congress instead of taking responsibility themselves. They have been pushing the “breaking point” narrative, complete with a children’s perp walk for the cameras, people sheltered under a bridge in El Paso, and an applause line about Central Americans at the President’s rally. All of the Secretary’s deep “concern for children” in her letter rings hollow when the solutions she is putting on the table involve jailing more of the children and sending more of them back to home countries to face the demons they fled in the first place.
It also proves – yet again – Sec. Nielsen is an incompetent leader who has no business leading or managing the Department of Homeland Security. Nielsen’s inept leadership and failed strategy has caused pain and suffering for thousands of migrants. In fact, DHS seems more an arm of Trump re-election campaign intent on creating B-roll for Trump campaign ads than a professional law enforcement agency intent on solving problems.
These themes were echoed yesterday in two TV segments worth taking a look at:
Veronica Escobar (TX-16), in an interview for MSNBC said:
What we’ve seen instead of leadership and real solutions, has been an implementation of Donald Trump’s policies of cruelty: from family separation to the migrant protection protocol policies. These policies by the Trump administration that have been executed by secretary Nielsen have made a challenging situation far more difficult. They’ve made it worse.
… And the reality is, in the absence of any leadership from them, and in the face of their incompetence, it’s local communities like mine that have been having to pick up the slack. By the way, right now, I am calling for the secretary to resign. Her incompetence is hurting the community, it’s hurting this country.
… Because of the way that this administration has chosen to engage, and chosen to address this challenge, a challenge has become chaos.
Bob Moore, a reporter at Texas Monthly said on PBS Newshour:
…so much of our border security infrastructure and even the debate we have around border security is trapped in the 1990s…The truth is that the infrastructure that we have, particularly the Border Patrol, is not equipped to handle families coming across. It’s a force that’s been built to stop people from sneaking across, not deal with large numbers of families seeking to come across and surrender. That system has become overwhelmed. And, in turn, as the numbers increase, the volunteer network in El Paso that’s handled these migrants, housed and fed them once they’re released by ICE and Border Patrol, is also becoming overwhelmed.
Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice said about the recent developments:
Donald Trump created the chaos on the border through his poisonous political rhetoric and take-no-accountability management style. Sec. Nielsen has been Trump’s toady from day one, made only worse by her incompetence and cruelty. Incompetence demonstrated by dismantling policies designed to keep refugees from swarming the border. Cruelty by ramping up child separation and deportation as the central response to the refugee crisis she helped create. After she enforced Trump and his evil immigration sidekick Stephen Miller’s zero-tolerance policy that devastated and separated thousands of families, she now wants to continue separating families without any due process. In the meantime, children and families are being held in cages under bridges in El Paso. It’s time to get someone in this administration that knows how to govern. Nielsen should not just resign – she should be fired. She has been an abject failure.
DHS does not need any new money or new authority. The U.S. government cannot continue to fund failure, which is exactly the result we’ve gotten from the Trump administration’s leadership over the past three years. It’s clear now more than ever that part of DHS’ strategy for dealing with the humanitarian crisis at the border should be to cure the problem at the root, which begins by getting rid of the disease that is Secretary Nielsen’s leadership. It’s time for new leadership and a new strategy, one includes a multifaceted plan to not only deal with issues at the border, but push factors in Central America as well.