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Stark Contrast on Display: Trump’s False Border Triumphalism vs. Real Lives Endangered By “Return to Mexico” and Sham Asylum Process

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The contrast between the Trump administration’s triumphalism and the trauma and pain inflicted by their asylum and border policies is on stark display this week.

Yesterday, President Trump went to a section of border fencing near San Diego and held a political photo-op, going so far as to sign a section of the wall with a Sharpie while crowing about the supposed success of his policies and lying that they are building the border wall “at breakneck speed.” 

Meanwhile, the sham asylum process at unaccountable “kangaroo” tent courts in Brownsville and Laredo continues, with new reporting reminding us that the administration’s denial of a fair process is starting well earlier, with CBP agents now conducting credible fear screenings instead of trained asylum officers. And the human toll and real lives endangered by their policies, especially “Return to Mexico,” continues to escalate. 

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice: “In Trump’s alternate reality, signing the border fence at a manufactured political photo op is a perfect complement to lies about the wall construction and ‘successes’ of their border and asylum policies. In the real world and in stark contrast, we’re seeing mounting examples of the lives lost and endangered by their ‘Remain in Mexico’ policies and their ongoing attempts to subvert any real access to a fair asylum process. Trump’s signed border wall, being built with money the Congress appropriated for other military projects, is an environmental disaster and symbolic of the human rights disaster Trump’s policies helped create. But to the President, any price is worth paying and any law is worth breaking to construct his massive campaign billboard and tribute to himself.”

More outlets are highlighting the lives lost and endangered as a direct result of the “Return to Mexico” policies, with CNN helping to tell the story of the Honduran mom and toddler who drowned in the Rio Grande in an attempt to reunite with their family after being forced to stay in Mexico in squalid conditions due to Trump’s policies.

And the Los Angeles Times reports on new details of “Border Patrol agents interviewing families for ‘credible fear,’ instead of asylum officers– a reminder that the “sham” aspects of the asylum process that we are seeing at the kangaroo tent courts are in fact beginning earlier in the asylum process. The LA Times piece notes: 

Border Patrol agents are beginning to screen migrant families for “credible fear” instead of highly trained asylum officers who are charged with determining whether applicants qualify for U.S. protection … The Trump administration’s ultimate goal with the Border Patrol training program is to make it more difficult for migrants to win asylum, asylum officers, officials, and lawyers say, because White House officials believe that agents will be more adversarial and less likely to approve asylum seekers.