Nation Recoils at Trump’s Immigration Radicalism
A new editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times, pivoting off recent remarks by Trump official Mick Mulvaney, is entitled, “Like the way America’s going? Not when families have been torn apart.” It captures the disconnect between Trump administration happy talk and voters’ anger at Trump’s immigration policies. It is excerpted below.
In fact, Trump’s handling of immigration is more unpopular than ever. According to a just-released CNN poll, only 35% of voters approve of Trump’s approach to immigration, with 59% disapproving. Among independents it’s 29% approve, 64% disapprove. No, Americans are not happy with Trump’s policies.
Perhaps that’s because the daily news is punctuated by horrible stories of cruelty at the hands of government agents happily implementing Trump’s radical assault on immigrant families and the American experiment. Below, in addition to the Sun-Times editorial, we highlight just some of the recent examples of what this administration is doing in our name across the country.
Chicago Sun-Times editorial, “Like the way America’s going? Not when families have been torn apart”:
“There’s a fantasy being pushed by the Republican Party, as it seeks a winning argument for the November elections, that Donald Trump has been a disaster but his policies have been terrific.
You may hate the president, and there are a lot of people who do,” Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said to a closed-door gathering of party donors last week. “But they certainly like the way the country is going.”
Like the way the country is going? Tell that to a 12-year-old boy named Erick and an 11-year-old girl named May. Both children were taken from their parents months ago, thanks to the Trump administration’s heartless family separation immigration policy, and both have cried themselves to sleep at night.
…Mick Mulvaney says Americans may despise Trump, but they “like the way the country is going.” We think Americans are a kinder people than that, and way too smart to make such a false distinction.
In a story titled, “Deaf, disabled Detroit immigrant in US for 34 years faces deportation,” the Detroit Free Press highlights the disturbing details of the potential deportation of Francis Anwana:
Born and raised in Nigeria, Francis Anwana was just 14 years old when he came to the United States on a student visa. He was deaf, couldn’t talk, and had cognitive disabilities, enrolling at the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint. Now 48, Anwana lives in Detroit at an adult foster care facility, helping mow the lawns and mop the floors at a nearby church on Detroit’s west side.
But in a shock to immigrant advocates, the U.S. now wants to deport Anwana to Nigeria, a country he has not lived since he was a teenager. Given his severe disabilities, it would be a virtual “death sentence” for him, said Susan Reed, an attorney with the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. Because of his disability, Anwana can only read at a second-grade level and is unable to mentally grasp the fact he could be forced to go back to Nigeria, according to advocates and his lawyer.
On Wednesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) told Anwana he would be deported on Tuesday, Sept. 11, according to advocates for Anwana. After the advocates raised concerns, ICE told them Friday that his deportation has been postponed. Anwana has a meeting with ICE set for Sept. 21.
In a story titled “Accused of MS-13 and other gang ties, separated parents struggle to get their kids back,” the Washington Post highlights how the Trump Administration is relying on unsupported allegations of gang ties to justify their failure to reunify some of the families separated during the unresolved crisis:
Six weeks after the deadline, more than 400 separated children remain in U.S. government shelters. Most of their parents have been deported, but several dozen remain in ICE custody, many barred from being reunited with their kids for deportation or released because of “red flags.” Though most of these red flags are U.S. criminal records, some aren’t convictions at all but rather contested allegations of gang involvement in Central America.
…“It’s very much a theme of this administration that all Central Americans carry the threat of gang violence,” said Denise Gilman, director of the University of Texas Immigration Clinic, who has represented parents stripped of their children because of gang accusations. “Casting Central American asylum seekers as gang members, even when most of them are fleeing gang violence, not perpetrating it, really affects their ability to get a fair day in court.” (read the online version to access some examples of the unfounded gang allegations that fall apart under scrutiny).
And Newsweek lifts up some of the troubling details and implications of a recent ProPublica Illinois investigative piece exploring the traumas inflicted on children held in federal custody near Chicago:
Confidential documents obtained by ProPublica Illinois told a chilling story of the mental and physical health of immigrant children held in federal custody in the Chicago area, with some having had suicidal thoughts during their detention.
The documents covered nine federally funded Heartland Human Care Services youth immigration shelters over a span of several years, including recent months in which about 2,500 children were forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In one document, a 16-year-old from Guatemala who was detained for at least 584 days described wanting to “quitarme la vida,” or “take my life away” as he waited to be released.
In another case, a 10-month-old boy who had been forcibly separated from his father at the border in March and had been held in detention for five months had been bitten repeatedly by an older child and was later hospitalized after falling from a high chair.
In a statement to ProPublica, officials at Heartland, which is part of a larger nonprofit organization called Heartland Alliance, acknowledged that children held in custody “don’t want to be with us at all—they just want to go home.
“That can play out in deep feelings of despair, unhappiness, wanting to escape and even suicidal thoughts,” they said.
The shelter, however, insisted that “this has nothing to do with the shelter and everything to do with the trauma and horror these children have lived through—coming to a foreign country, being brought to an unknown place without your loved one, and suffering emotionally from being forcibly separated from their parents.”
Human Rights Watch also noted that immigrant parents separated from their children were told that their young ones had experienced “trauma, suicidal feelings” and “dangerously inadequate medical care.”
One trend ProPublica noticed was that the longer children had been detained, the more they appeared to struggle, based on what children had said and what had been written about their experiences.
That revelation came as the Trump administration announced plans to withdraw from the Flores Settlement Agreement, which placed strict limits on the conditions under which immigration authorities could detain children, including rules curbing how long children could be detained.