Trump Has No Limits

There are apparently no limits to the depths to which President Donald Trump will sink. His campaign and presidency have been marked by despicable racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic words and actions, and he lies as easily as he breathes. Yet, for sheer vileness, it is difficult to imagine anything more reprehensible than his administration’s policy of separating children from parents seeking asylum at the border and then having the gall to blame Democrats for his administration’s action. 

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. Catch and Release, Lottery and Chain must also go with it and we MUST continue building the WALL! DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” Trump tweeted Saturday. There is only one problem with this tweet (aside from the poor grammar): Like so much of what Trump says, it is not true.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

There is no law requiring the government to separate children from their parents. Families are divided at the border because of policies adopted by the Trump administration. In early April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Department of Justice’s “zero-tolerance policy” toward anyone entering the United States without proper documentation. Because “the situation at our Southwest Border is unacceptable,” Sessions said in a written statement, “illegally entering the country will not be rewarded, but will instead be met with the full prosecutorial powers of the Department of Justice.” Earlier this month, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who has been the butt of Trump’s anger over increased border crossings, issued orders implementing the Justice Department’s policy.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

Nielsen’s directive referred all unauthorized immigrants to federal prosecutors. Detained parents were placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and sent to a detention center. Their children, as minors, cannot be housed in a detention center for adults. Instead, they were transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services for placement in a juvenile facility or foster care if they have no adult relatives in the United States who can care for them. “I keep imagining somebody taking my kids from me. My kids are 2 and 4 years old, and that’s the age of some of the children that have been separated from their parents at the border,” said Representative Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat.

The administration’s policy on current border crossings raises the same issue as the Dreamers: Holding children, infants and toddlers in some cases, responsible for the actions of their parents. Sessions, in explaining his new “zero-tolerance” policy, said, “If you don’t want your child to be separated, then don’t bring him across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that.” Nielsen demonstrated the same lack of compassion in Senate testimony earlier this month: “If you’re a parent, or you’re a single person, or you happen to have a family, if you cross between the ports of entry, we will refer you for prosecution. You’ve broken U.S. law.”

John Kelly, White House chief of staff

The award for sheer callousness, however, goes to John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff. When asked in an interview with National Public Radio if it were “cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children.” Kelly responded, “I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever.” Whatever?!? Kelly added, “The big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States,” leaving it unclear who the “they” are. Also unclear is whether Kelly’s insensitivity is a trait he always possessed or if it has appeared due to rubbing shoulders with a president who cares about no one but himself. Possibly both are true.

Cabinet meeting at which President Trump referred to “shithole countries.”

But, it is Trump who sets the tone of the administration, and none of his subordinates can match his utter lack of simple decency. His tweets on immigration — as on everything else — are a pack of lies, and his rhetoric is inflammatory, whether referring to “shithole counries” or hurling the epithet of “animals” at immigrants (it does not matter whether he was referring to the murderous M-13 gangsters or all immigrants, the language was deliberately ambiguous). And, in true Trumpian fashion, the president managed to obscure the issue when he tweeted blame on the Democrats for “the horrible law” separating families. Not only is it not a law, but an administration policy, but last time I looked, Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branches of the government. Presumably, they could repeal the non-existent law and pass a different one. Of course, congressional Republicans cannot agree on lunch, so the chance of an agreement on immigration is nil.

Manzanar — an internment camp for Japanese-Americans

Trump’s egregious policies — both the separating of families and his refusal to compromise on the status of the Dreamers — are intended to ratchet up pressure on Congress to fund his beloved border wall, as the American Civil Liberties Union recognized in a tweet this past weekend: “No law requires this — separating parents and children is your administration’s choice. Hundreds of kids as young as 18 months are in danger of suffering lifelong trauma. We won’t let you shift the blame or use families as bargaining chips for your wall.” Noted legal scholar Laurence Tribe observed, “Even in the shameful internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry in the wake of Pearl Harbor, the US Government didn’t rip families apart.” No, that kind of behavior used to be the sole province of the Nazis.

Sadly, there are no limits on Trump — the Congress, in its current iteration, certainly is not doing its part. The president is a bully who will employ any tactic to get his way. Standing up to bullies is the only course of action, as Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat, tweeted Sunday: “They are going to use the suffering of children as political leverage for the wall, and we must refuse to participate, because if this kind of hostage taking is ever successful it will never stop.”

Yet another reason to vote Democratic in November.

Posted May 29, 2018

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