Editors’ note: We at MWR are committed to continue a measured, thoughtful, honest approach to these issues but we sometimes feel we are whistling in the face of a hurricane. This week we plumb the bottomless well of cruelty, abuse and manipulation by Trump and the corresponding dishonesty and cowardice of elected Republicans. There are no moderate Republicans in Congress, only timid collaborators with the Trump-Sessions regime. A vote for any Republican in 2018 is a vote against decency and democracy.
The Trump administration is simultaneously attacking all forms of legal immigration, and naturalization, as well as unauthorized migration. At the same time President Trump loudly blames Democrats for hispolicy. The truth is that previous administrations – Republican and Democratic – enforced the law in a humane, family supportive manner. Blaming them is simply the Big Lie in action.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has instituted a policy of “zero tolerance” criminally charging anyone who crosses the border without prior authorization, including asylum seekers. Once charged and imprisoned, Federal law prohibits children from being housed with adults in Federal jails, so children are then separated from parents and treated as unaccompanied minors. The Secretary of Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen is actively denying that there is such a policy at the same time that her agency is implementing it.
At this writing, Trump, Session and Nielsen’s “not-a-policy” has resulted in the separation of at least 2,000 children from their families leading to untold anguish and trauma. In the Bush and Obama administrations, people crossing unlawfully were brought before an immigration judge who considered the individual’s circumstances and most often released them on bond. In most cases no family separation was necessary. A 2016 study found that 80% of those granted bond appear at their court date. There are no significant border crossing problems that justify these draconian policies.
Trump and Sessions crafted this policy in order to to create the maximum amount of pain to anyone entering the US whether lawfully seeking asylum under international agreements or otherwise. Sessions claims this policy works as a deterrent but there is no evidence to support him. The Trump-Sessions policy is opposed by the United Nations Human Rights Office, the US Catholic bishops, and many evangelical church leaders and innumerable leaders in other faith traditions and sectors.
On a separate but related issue, Attorney General Sessions overturned a 2014 Board of Immigration appeals decision that women fleeing domestic violence were eligible to apply for U.S. asylum. Sessions’ ruling will have the greatest impact on women seeking asylum from domestic violence in countries where governments and law enforcement actively refuse to protect women from their assailants.
And lastly, Republicans are once again trying to offer those who support permanent status for DACA recipients a forced choice between protections for DACA recipients in exchange for support of hard line immigration policies. This is not an attempt to forge a compromise - no Democrats have been consulted on either bill. It is simply an effort to extort funding for Trump’s Wall and to restrict all immigration to the US.
This week in the House, Speaker Paul Ryan is pushing two phony “compromise” bills as a sop to the public outrage over the family separations policy. These bills take away more rights than they give. In the Senate, Senator Feinstein can’t get a single Republican to co-sponsor a bill to reverse the child separation policy. The bottom line is that there are NO elected Republicans who will stand up against Donald Trump on immigration, no matter what he does. The only meaningful protest is to vote all Republicans out.
Call To Action
Because this has been such fast breaking story we did not have the resources to keep up and insert all the relevant links. We know you know how to track these leads down!
Call Congressand demand that your Representatives support narrow bills – HELP Separated Families Act in the House and Keep Families Together Act in the Senate – that will reunite children already taken from their families as well as prohibit future separations. Senators should also support the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act which requires the government to appoint counsel for unaccompanied children.
Tell your Representatives to oppose the House Republican’s sham (anti) immigration bills.
Join protests. Families Belong Together is actively organizing and tracking nationwide protests of this policy. Their first call to action was last Thursday. Track upcoming events at their website.
Donate to Legal and Humanitarian Efforts. There are several nonprofits providing vital free legal aid for those who need it: RAICES; The Texas Civil Rights Project; the Florence Project in Arizona; and two nationwide organizations: Kids in Need of Defense and The Young Center. Any of you who are lawyers should consider lending your expertise.
And most importantly, Vote and Get out the Vote. The only way to stop the never-ending assault on human rights, democratic norms, and injustice by Trump and his cronies is to take back every legislative body we can. Decide how you will help: participating in voter registration drives, funding Democratic candidates, working the phones or canvassing for candidates. Plan to set aside time in September and October to make the blue wave real. Our democracy depends on it.