This morning, two of the nation’s leading editorial boards blasted DHS Secretary Kelly as well as the Trump Administration’s approach to immigration enforcement.
See below for excerpts from new editorials from the New York Times: “Fearmongering at Homeland Security” and “ Torn From Their Families for No Good Reason,” and the Washington Post: “The Trump administration may be deporting ‘the good ones’.”
“Fearmongering at Homeland Security”
The New York Times editorial board writes a scathing review of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s alarmist rhetoric, which only encourages bureaucrats to disregard the rights and humanity of non-citizens and citizens alike:
That apocalyptic talk turns the Islamophobia and immigrant scapegoating that turbocharged the Trump campaign into marching orders for federal law enforcement agents and bureaucrats. It ignores that the United States has spent billions of dollars over the past 15 years greatly enhancing its intelligence collection capabilities and that it has put in place far more stringent mechanisms to screen visa applicants and visitors.
Disregarding these gains, Mr. Kelly and other top administration officials stand to make the country less safe with talk of a war on unauthorized immigrants, which is driving segments of immigrant communities underground, making them fearful of any encounters with law enforcement. The bashing of Muslims, meanwhile, is music to the ears of extremist, violent organizations that have used the notion that America is at war with Islam as a recruiting tool.
Among the more jarring parts of Mr. Kelly’s speech was his message to lawmakers. Citing the low morale of employees he described as “political pawns” in the nation’s contentious immigration debate, Mr. Kelly said members of Congress should have “the courage and the skill to change those laws,” or “shut up and support the men and women on the front lines” of immigration enforcement.
Mr. Kelly’s choice of words reflects the dismal state of public discourse in American politics. That brusqueness encourages lawmakers to respond in kind, which can only make policy making more fraught and partisan. But even more alarming is his unrestrained fearmongering. If Americans take his discourse at face value, they will be living in a paranoid society willing to trade fundamental freedoms and principles for a sense of security.
“Torn from their Families for No Good Reason”
The New York Times editorial board points to the cases of Ohio mom Maribel Trujillo-Diaz and Dreamer Juan Manuel Montes as examples of the “unjust consequences of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s hard-line immigration policy.”
Anyone wanting vivid examples of the unjust consequences of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s hard-line immigration policy need look no further than Maribel Trujillo-Diaz, a mother of four children living near Cincinnati, who is her family’s main breadwinner and who has no criminal record. Or Juan Manuel Montes, a 23-year-old Californian who came to the United States when he was 9 and had been shielded from deportation under President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Neither fits the profile of a “criminal alien” or threat to the homeland.
Americans need to recognize and reject this great conflation of unauthorized immigrants with criminals.
Mr. Kelly spoke of lurid violence and existential threats while dismissing as inevitably false any accounts of enforcement overreach. Don’t believe, he said, any “partial and oftentimes inaccurate media reporting on some alleged incident at an airport, in a courthouse, or at a border crossing.” Those “alleged” events that Mr. Kelly scoffs at are doing real harm to immigrant families around the country.
This is not reasonable, it’s not smart and it does not keep the homeland safe. The reckless deportations of harmless immigrants like Ms. Trujillo and Mr. Montes are spreading fear far and wide, and dismaying those who recognize their senseless cruelty, like John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio, who said, “We have enough broken families in the country.”
“The Trump Administration May Be Deporting ‘The Good Ones'”
The Washington Post editorial board also zeroes in on the consequences of the Trump administration’s “unshackling” of immigration agents.
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly says agents will focus enforcement on undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but numbers from the administration’s first weeks in office suggest a different, and concerning, pattern.
As The Post’s Maria Sacchetti reported, arrests of unauthorized immigrants without criminal convictions more than doubled through mid-March under the new administration, compared with the same span last year.
Stepped-up enforcement will shatter families and communities. Evidence suggests it is already deterring Latino victims of sexual assaults and other offenses in cities such as Houston and Los Angeles from reporting the crimes to the authorities, for fear they will end up being deported.
Law enforcement involves priorities, as Mr. Kelly acknowledges; he is also right that it is up to Congress to reform a dysfunctional system. In overseeing enforcement for this administration, however, he will be judged by whether policy is measured, sensible and humane. Early signs are not encouraging.