Yesterday, we highlighted several editorial boards across the nation that took to denouncing Trump’s threats of mass deportations in his latest attempt to stoke fear in immigrant communities for the sake of rallying his 2020 base. Today, the list grows as outrage spreads about reports of the abhorrent and inhumane conditions at detention centers holding migrant children while Trump continues pushing failing deterrence-only policies that are exacerbating an already raging humanitarian crisis. Trump’s strategy of combining cruelty, child neglect and brute force to counter a refugee crisis in Central America is clearly a great failure, but the human costs – the trauma, fear and bodily harm inflicted on children – are very real.
From his promise of a “beautiful wall” to his false alarms about caravans of alien marauders at the gate, President Trump has exploited immigration as his marquee issue. He is right, there is a crisis: Not of undocumented immigrants or thousands seeking refuge, as the president would have it, but a crisis of American values, a crisis of America’s premier tradition as a welcoming and humane haven. A crisis Mr. Trump has created, even as Congress has fueled it.
That is not to deny that comprehensive immigration reform is urgently needed, as is funding for the overstretched facilities where undocumented immigrants, and most horribly the children of undocumented immigrants, are held.
But, by his divisive, incoherent and barbaric policies, Mr. Trump has only made agreeing on an approach to immigration in the United States far more difficult. He has done so by systematically creating a false narrative of immigrants as job-stealing criminals, by insisting that there is a crisis of illegal immigration where there is none and, most maliciously, by dreaming up schemes to torment these people in the perverse notion that this would deter others from trying to reach the United States.
The most appalling of these has been the separation of children from their parents and detaining them in conditions no child anywhere should suffer, and certainly not children in the care of the American government. At a recent hearing before a federal appeals court in San Francisco, judges were stunned by the administration’s arguments that children sleeping on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, without soap or toothbrushes, were being kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities, as required by law. “You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?” asked one judge.
…The United States urgently needs an immigration policy that combines border security, justice and humanity. President Trump has promoted policies that undermine all these goals, and Congress has failed to agree on a coherent vision. You can help turn that around. Here’s how:
CHILDREN WEARING clothes filthy with snot and tears and food. Children locked in cells nearly all day long, sleeping on cold concrete floors. No windows. Always hungry. No toothbrushes, toothpaste or soap. Children alone, even the littlest among them.
These are the conditions in which hundreds of immigrant children are being held at Customs and Border Protection facilities along the U.S. border. Most pets get better treatment. The United States should be horrified and demand that the president and Congress take action, immediately, to provide humane care for these vulnerable young people.
Concern about the conditions in which migrant children are held intensified after the Associated Press reported on the findings of a group of lawyers who visited a detention facility in Clint, Tex., in which 250 infants, children and teenagers were being held. “It’s the worst conditions I have ever witnessed in several years of doing these inspections,” said W. Warren Binford, one of the lawyers, recounting the lack of adequate access to food, water and medicine; the minimal adult supervision, and the presence of lice and flu. News reports Monday evening indicated hundreds of children had been moved out of that facility, but the administration’s responses inspired little confidence that they would be treated better elsewhere.
…Congress shares in the blame for its failure to address some of the issues that have led to an increase in illegal border crossings. It also has failed to act, after appropriating $400 million in February, on a larger supplemental spending bill to cope with the surge in migrants. A Senate version of the bill is headed to the floor with bipartisan support, but its future in the House is unclear. Some House Democrats, using the hashtags #NotOneDollar and #CloseTheCamps, have come out against additional funding because they think it will help advance the administration’s immigration and detention policies. Such thinking is irresponsible; children are hurting. Congress should provide the needed resources and then closely monitor how the money is spent.
But if congressional action is irresponsible, it is also understandable, given the contemptuous way Mr. Trump speaks of migrants; his loathsome policy of family separation last year; his current lies about that policy; and his constant use of fear, threats and ultimatums in place of an effort to work toward immigration reform. First and foremost, he is responsible for how these children are being treated. The U.S. government should be capable of providing toothbrushes, soap, showers and safe and humane shelter for these most vulnerable human beings.
President Trump announced last week that he would be deporting “millions” of people living in the U.S. illegally, a promise that just happened to precede the formal launch in Orlando, Fla., of his reelection campaign. Anyone who knows anything about the immigration system saw that threat for what it was: a nonsensical bit of bluster that far exceeded the government’s ability to act but that would fire up the president’s political base while spreading fear and chaos through immigrant communities.
And sure enough, a couple of days later, acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Mark Morgan said the target would actually not be millions of people after all, but would be about 2,000 families against whom the government already has final deportation orders. Then on Saturday, a day before the raids were to begin, Trump announced that he would delay the roundup altogether, to give Democrats in Congress two weeks to “work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border” — something that is not likely to happen and in any case has no direct bearing on the 2,000 targeted families who, since they had been ordered deported, presumably were deemed ineligible for asylum.
…It’s whiplash-inducing, and in the end, nothing happened — which is what the nation has come to expect from one of the most erratic and inconsistent presidents in history.
…The president’s floundering incoherence is stunning. Trump and the immigration hard-liners who support him sputter about the government’s failure to enforce immigration laws, yet Trump himself now seems to be dangling a promise not to enforce the law as a bargaining chip to try to change another part of the law.
…The nation needs a coherent set of laws and policies to fix our failed immigration system. Instead, all we’re getting is disjointed declarations from a president who is clueless about the nature and scope of the problem, and preternaturally incapable for forming humane, sensible, workable policies to address our growing problems. So he flails. And fails. Again.
President Donald Trump says he agreed to hold off on multi-city immigration raids to round up people without legal status in the United States to give Democrats and Republicans two weeks to come up with a comprehensive solution to the nation’s immigration problems. Don’t be fooled. He has no interest in actually reforming America’s immigration system on some kind of bi-partisan basis. All he wants to do is thrill his political base by conducting a systematic campaign of terror on immigrants.
That’s what it has amounted to in Baltimore and nine other cities that were reportedly due to be raided in the early morning hours on Sunday. Despite efforts of religious and community leaders to show support for immigrants and inform them of their rights should Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials try to take them into custody, many immigrant families were scared into hiding. Advocates in Miami reported “fear and chaos” among immigrant families. In Colorado, they fretted that President Trump’s sudden reversal on the raids was an attempt to “lull us into a false sense of security.” A Latino festival in Boulder was canceled because of the “very real announced threats.” In San Francisco, assurances of help from city officials did nothing to assuage immigrants’ anxiety; “they want us to be scared,” one told a local TV station. ““The effect is terror,” a Southern California immigration rights advocate told the L.A. Times. “We’re getting call after call after call. Even in Detroit, a city not among those on the ICE raid list, immigrants were scared to leave their homes over the weekend, even to go to church.
…Stoking fear was at the heart of the sadistic family separation policy that the administration pursued before international outrage and horror finally shamed it into the merely inhumane warehousing of children in overcrowded, unsanitary detention facilities with inadequate food, blankets and adult supervision, as is occurring now. President Trump has lamented that treating undocumented immigrants, including asylum seekers, with anything less than cruelty is like an invitation to mass migration. “Once you don’t have it, that’s why you have many more people coming. They are coming like it’s a picnic, like ‘let’s go to Disneyland,’” he said in April.
The president’s threat and reversal on raids bears obvious comparison to his decision last week to authorize military strikes on Iran and then to cancel them, but there’s one big difference. In that case, he says he was dissuaded from action once he learned of the human cost of his decision — as many as 150 Iranian casualties, which he considered disproportionate in response to the shooting down of an unmanned U.S. drone. But at no point has he expressed the slightest concern about the human cost of pounding on doors in American cities on a Sunday morning and rounding people up for deportation, likely splitting families apart and spreading fear through entire communities. Nor has he considered what is a proportionate response for people whose only crime, typically, is entering this country and trying to stay here. On the contrary, he promises his reign of terror has only just begun: Two weeks and big Deportation begins!”
Last week, President Donald Trump fired up his base by threatening to deport millions of immigrants. On Saturday, he backed off, ostensibly so House Democrats could pass immigration reform in the next two weeks. Good luck with that.
…Trump’s deportation threat was the typical hyperbole from a man who admits to thriving on chaos. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement lacks the resources and agents to round up millions quickly. ICE planned to target about 2,000 families in 10 cities, initially. The threat played well with Trump’s base anyway.
…The threat alone was enough to spark a small panic in immigrant communities across the country, not least because the administration has already demonstrated that it is heartless in its enforcement of immigration law. Children continue to suffer in detention centers while Trump grandstands.
…Maybe if the House passes some other immigration bill, such as the one that would allocate $4.5 billion for addressing the humanitarian crisis at the border, Trump could declare victory and this mess would go away.
The nation does need comprehensive immigration reform including an update to the asylum process, but that will not likely emerge in two weeks under the threat of Trump’s deportation gun.