It is increasingly clear that the animating principle of Trump’s presidency is abject cruelty and inhumane policies towards immigrants and people of color. Below, we excerpt just some of the most recent commentary on this administration’s radicalism.
Cruelty is both the means and the end. It’s the thread that runs through ICE’s strategy of instilling terror in immigrant communities, the Department of Homeland Security’s restrictive approach to refugees and asylum-seekers, the White House’s decision to rescind temporary protected status for hundreds of thousands of settled immigrants, Sessions’s decision to reopen 350,000 cases for potential deportation, and much more.
Much of this cruelty springs from Trump himself, who rose to power with unabashedly racist rhetoric toward immigrants and non-whites. In announcing his campaign in 2015, he smeared Mexican immigrants as murderers and rapists, and later that year called for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslim immigration. The presidency didn’t change him. In a meeting with lawmakers in January, he complained about immigrants coming from “shithole countries” in Africa and and the Caribbean.
Three former Customs and Border Protection colleagues – Alan Bersin, Nate Bruggeman and Ben Rohrbaugh – penned an op-ed for Washington Post warning that “Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ bluff on the border will hurt security, not help”:
This strategy may provide sound bites, and harsh rhetoric may generate some short-term deterrent effect, but it is impossible for this policy to actually be implemented over any reasonable time period. By announcing a threat that is effectively a bluff, the Trump administration likely will harm border security rather than enhance it.
The core of effective border security is risk management — focusing law-enforcement resources on the greatest threats. This is why the Border Patrol developed the Consequence Delivery System, a program that matches different types of crossers to different categories of processes or penalties. For example, a known human smuggler receives harsher treatment than a first-time crosser. Referring every illegal crosser for prosecution removes the ability of the Border Patrol to manage risk effectively.
The opportunity cost associated with this prosecution strategy will be even more acutely felt by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the border. Already handling a massive workload, including drug- and human-trafficking cases, these prosecutors focus their time and effort on cases that have the greatest impact on public safety. The administration’s new “mission impossible” will force prosecutors to misallocate resources to economic migrants; but even then, there will not be enough resources to get the job done.
San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board weighs in on the differences – and the core similarity – between the lost children and the administration’s family separation policy:
The Trump administration has taken an immigration process that was already maddening and added an extra layer of cruelty.
The result will be a generation of traumatized and scarred children — and a shame upon our nation.
…Despite their differences, the two stories are related. Both of them speak to the vulnerability of immigrant children in the U.S. at a time when the White House’s immigration policy is venomous. Both stories also condemn Congress, which has punted on passing comprehensive immigration reform for decades.
People fleeing violence and poverty deserve our nation’s compassion, not a demonstration of its cruelty.
Yet the U.S. government’s policy of increasing prosecutions of the number of people who cross the border illegally is the very definition of inhumane. The result is that parents, including asylum seekers, are separated from their children.
…Continuing this practice threatens the United States’ standing on the global stage and runs counter to the values we espouse as a nation.
The public outcry to the family separation policy rivals what followed Trump’s reckless decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, as the USA Today editorial board argues:
A federal judge is reviewing whether these separations violate federal best-interest-of-the-child safeguards. Meanwhile, the practice smells a lot like Trump’s decision last year to end popular protections for “DREAMers,” children brought to the USA illegally before 2012 who grew up knowing only this country.
The Trump administration has signaled that measures to protect DREAMers, as well as steps to end family separations, are possible if only Congress would fund Trump’s border wall and restrict legal immigration. Apparently, the president is comfortable using children as pawns to get his way.
Meanwhile, Kansas City Star’s editorial board calls on Kansas and Missouri’s congressional delegation to show leadership and sign onto the discharge petition:
Local holdouts include Missouri Reps. Sam Graves and Vicky Hartzler, as well as Kansas Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins.
What the more centrist Republicans are seeking is a permanent solution for the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients.
This is a real test for Republicans. Are they going to come to the table, one that is being set by members of their own party? Or stall?
…But Congress also needs to attend to reality. These young people have spent virtually their whole lives in the U.S. They think of themselves as Americans and are eager to contribute by earning college degrees, learning skilled trades and serving in the military.
They simply need a handful of Republicans to be equally courageous.