Lawlessness of Trump’s Immigration Actions

wall with immigrants MSNBC.com

Clearly immigration actions under Donald Trump were going to make most of us cringe. We began with the wall that Mexico was going to pay for, for which (surprise, surprise) they refused to pay. Then some prototypes appeared along a section of the border which we were supposed to be inspired by, but they all looked alike and none of them looked like the “beautiful wall” that Trump extolled while campaigning. Since then we the people have pretty much been threatened with government shutdowns to extort payment for Trump’s wall on and off since the inauguration.

Early on, we had that overnight immigration ban cancelling the arrival of refugees who had completed our complex vetting process and sending the Resistance to airports with signs. Bans were signed into law and declared unacceptable almost in the same week. I.C.E. began arresting undocumented immigrants or refugees as they left work, or even while they were working. They began profiling passengers on trains and buses and asking to see ID’s. Asking we the people to show our papers is so “gestapo”, not at all what we have usually done in our democracy, besides being a violation of our civil rights.

Then we had immigrant children separated from their parents while seeking asylum at the border with Mexico. We had the image burned onto our brains of children in cages on mats with thin metallic space blankets for cold comfort. Some were as young as two years old. We were shocked (although I can’t think why) to learn that no one saved the names and contact information that could reconnect children and parents, probably because such reunions were not expected to ever take place. It is even more startling to conclude that 45 was not expecting we the people to express any negative reactions to child separation. He seemed to believe that all Americans either hate immigrants, or that we all fall for his fear-mongering.

Now we have a couple thousand young people who came to America unaccompanied by a parent living in air-conditioned tent barracks in Texas, living regimented lives and looking forward to what (being deported after talking to a judge) (lifetime imprisonment)? What must daily life be like for those children? Who could possibly think that things could get worse?

Immigrant train New York Post

However things can always get worse and as soon as we saw the newest group of migrants walking from Honduras and Guatemala and saw the reactions of our President, we knew that there would be some kind of conflict at the border. He was never going to let those desperate travelers into America. He began the fear-mongering in earnest claiming ISIS fighters were hiding in the center of this chain of people, that people walking hundreds of miles with their children were actually gang members come to kill Americans in the streets, that they were “grabbers” who were not related to the children who seemed to be with them.

We heard his order to deploy American troops to the Mexican border, but we were told that because of posse comitatuslaws the troops could not use military tactics, because the states had the power in these matters. When some of the immigrants got angry and stormed the border, which was being barricaded by troops and border agents with riot gear, troops (because policing in any form cannot stand for insurrection or disobedience) had to escalate. So then we had the newest abomination of mothers and children running from tear gas lobbed into their midst by American soldiers. It is very fortunate that Tijuana has been forthcoming with housing and food for these people who came seeking a better life. But it doesn’t soften the fact that we tear-gassed babies.

tear gas at children WaPO

There are pockets of people throughout the US who are opposed to immigration. Some are convinced that immigrants are taking jobs that should be filled by Americans. Others object to making our benefits available to people who are granted asylum or refugee status; benefits that are supposed to only be temporary until immigrants are self-sufficient. Some refugees have been so victimized in their country of origin that they may require disability supports for life. We are not feeling very flush ourselves these days, and with government threatening to cut our benefits, we are in no mood to share, even sometimes with our fellow Americans.

But don’t you sometimes feel a bit helpless to effect any change in Trump’s immigration ban and sometimes feel some pity for these parents and children seeking a better life? Doesn’t it strike you as un-American to lob tear gas at unarmed families even if they are being a bit demanding about being allowed into the country. They did walk an awfully long way and I doubt they had daily news flashes about what was waiting at the end of their journey. Doesn’t it make you start to thinks that there have to be better ways than this to make sure people only enter America legally. If we had a bit more flexibility we might not have to charge them with a crime for entering at an unprotected spot on the border when they can’t get in at a legal entry point. The use of force often escalates into the use of more force until mayhem occurs and guilt and regrets follow.

Many experts on immigration claim that immigrants do not take American jobs; rather they fill positions that Americans do not wish to fill. It is perhaps true that some immigrants do take desirable jobs and some do not, but since we are supposedly at full employment and, since there are many jobs that are unfilled, I think we can spare a few jobs for people who find the quality of life in the nation they are willing to leave unbearable.

I heard people interviewed at the border saying that they came to America seeking work. The optics would certainly improve if we stopped treating immigrants at the Mexican border as enemy combatants who must be tracked until they can come before a judge to decide their status. Instead immigrants could be issued a work visa and paired with an employer who will agree to sponsor them. It is demoralizing to we the people to experience this constant cruelty and conflict at a border we have shared with Mexico for several centuries. It is equally difficult to believe that the only method for keeping radicalized immigrants out of America is to keep all immigrants out of America. This is so clearly connected to white supremacy and nationalism that it brings us right back to the goose bumps that signal the “gestapo” tactics we hoped to never see again.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – MSNBC.com, New York Post, Washington Post

Separating Children from Parents: Small Crime, Big Punishment

separation big NDTV.com

So one week ago our biggest problem here in the heart of America centered around Trump’s treatment of allies and dictators. Now all holy hell has broken loose and we are an angry and grieving nation, sent into chaos by an old man with too much power surrounded by too many sycophants, an old man who wants his way at all cost. He may be our president but he also is a paranoid old coot. He thinks he is being cheated all the time. He thinks the families at the border are pretending to be families and that they are actually gang members coming to wreak havoc in Trump’s America so he is separating families. (He hugged a flag – apparently he has hugged multiple flags.) (I love America but I don’t go around hugging flags. America’s people should be the true recipient of our President’s love.)

Trump does not actually tempt families to break the law at the border. But the lines at the border are long and the lines that go through customs do not represent a way in, because people are being turned away. So people decide to jump the line, to come in where there is no customs presence. Usually I find line jumpers maddening but in this case this behavior could be seen as “thinking outside the box”. These people paid money to travel, they may have been traveling uncomfortably for weeks. They find themselves, at the end of their journey, sitting under a brutal sun, with no shade available, no food, no facilities, waiting for a chance to get in a line to enter the “promised land”. We can attest to their good intentions because after their illegal crossing they turn themselves in to border guards.

But once they leave that legal line and find an unauthorized place to cross the border they have come to a crucial moment that leads to repercussions that they have never dreamt of. As soon as they do this Trump knows that they can be charged with a misdemeanor and arrested. Since they have been charged with a crime, however small, they have insured that the system will now treat them without mercy. Now they will not go to court to argue for asylum; they will now go to court to decide if they are guilty of a crime, and since they clearly are, they will be deported. Since they have been arrested they can and will, under Trump’s zero tolerance policy, be separated from any children who came with them.

What happens to the parents is bad and seems all out of proportion to their “crime”. What happens to the children is even worse. They lose their parent/s and they may never be reunited with their family again. There is no plan for how these families, once separated, will ever be able to locate each other again. No useful records are being kept at the border. All is chaos. Shelters are hurriedly located and stocked. Meanwhile children are held in cages with no adults to comfort them and no activities to occupy them. They loll on mats on the floor in freezing cold warehouses until they can be moved to a new warehouse, but one that at least has beds. Some children are kept this way for days before they can be placed. Children cannot understand their changed circumstances. What are they thinking in their small heads? What will they remember about this as they grow up? Parents who would die for their children are dumbfounded by this. They have no way to help their child. They are left with either deep and abiding sadness, or anger, and a determination to fight a huge and impenetrable bureaucracy to have their child returned to them.

This old misguided fool of ours has gone over the line – he has turned humane America into something monstrous, something cold and inhuman. America wants to wall them out. America thinks they are animals. America is what its leaders say it is. That is the face we present to the world. Our President is acting as if America is being overrun with cockroaches and he has to physically brush them off, push them back through the open door and then slam and lock it. If they were cockroaches this would not work. They are not bugs, they are people, and it still will not work.

Actions have consequences, the world will soon give up on America, accept that the America they knew, such a short time ago, is gone. We will get the isolation we’re asking for but it will feel more like shunning. Trump’s cruelty to families from our neighbors in South America will affect how these people feel about America for generations.

It is no consolation that this all proves that Trump’s “overkill” immigration plan has no merit. Trump is the one who needs to be convinced and he is, according to himself, never wrong. He fears that if he is not adamant about “the wall” he will lose all credibility. He can hug our flag all he wants but he is breaking hearts all over America.

There are now four centers to hold babies, “tender age” children, who have been separated from their parents. These parents, we are told, may never be reunited with their children again. Why are we just going ballistic now when this has been the policy for more than a month? Because last week this reached critical mass. And because now we are also told that there was no plan for reuniting these separated families at some point in the future. There is no system to keep track of each child and to be aware of where each child ends up. Once a parent is deported and their child remains in America being reunited is an extremely remote possibility.

We cannot have a nation unless we have borders is what we are always told. That’s true by definition I guess. But we can have porous borders, or strict borders, or closed borders, our choice. We can issue temporary visas for anyone who enters. We could require passports to enter. We certainly need to have much clearer laws about asylum. We could have a border at Mexico like the border we have with Canada. We could have the same laws at both borders. If you build a wall people will try to get over the wall. Then we will have to decide whether we will shoot them or not.

If we let people come and go with minimal documents we do run the risk that everyone will want to come and few will want to go. Not all South American nations are as peaceful and well-regulated as Canada is and people will bring their issues with them. But they can also be sent back across the border. That certainly would not be any more expensive than housing children with all the proper attendant services.

There is not any perfect solution to our border with Mexico if we open America up to all South Americans and any other person who comes in through South American. We have not created a foolproof system for tracing long-term guests when they enter our country and getting rid of them when they commit mayhem. We probably cannot create a foolproof system unless we can keep track of both citizens and noncitizens. Do citizens lose too much freedom in such a system? Is watching children being torn from their parents and sent into exile in a strange land better? Wouldn’t it be easier to give up another piece of our rather illusive freedom rather than to turn children with parents into parentless clients of our social services system. Wouldn’t it be easier than building a tall and useless wall along our southern border? There is unlikely to be a consensus on either plan. Whatever we do, we need to stop doing this.

(There was a screen shot on Facebook yesterday of a conversation between some Americans. This scum, motivated by a President who encourages hate, suggested that these children could be kept as an organ donor bank for real Americans. It was taken down later in the day. This is shameful behavior. Sick.)

Photo Credit: NDTV.com

This is a view from the cheap seats.