The Signal this holiday week is all about immigration. About the country’s shutting out impoverished and desperate strangers in a season of giving, when we are supposed to express kindness, empathy, and charity toward others.
Post-impeachment, the Trump administration is going all in on coercive and cruel policies. Trump is betting that his base will forgive his legal travails so long as he keeps appointing judges who will produce ever more conservative rulings on a range of issues.
Twenty-five Jewish members of Congress have called on Trump to dismiss his immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, because of revelations about Miller’s white supremacism. But Miller isn’t going anywhere. Instead, his fingerprints are all over an array of horrific new developments.
At Miller’s urging, Immigration and Customs Enforcement is, in violation of international rules about the treatment of refugees, using asylum-seeking children as bait to trap adult relatives in the States, who volunteer to sponsor these kids only to find that they can be arrested and subject to deportation if they are themselves undocumented. The agency responsible for looking after these children is now allowing ICE to collect fingerprints and other data from relatives—which ICE is using not to help reunite families but as part of a ramped-up effort to deport adults.
The government is forcing increasing numbers of asylum seekers to remain in Mexico, where many are trapped in violent, often deadly, camps. As The New York Times documented this week, hundreds of these men, women, and children have been kidnapped by gangs and held for ransom. Many have been tortured, raped, even murdered. When the victims have then tried to enter the United States, showing the marks of torture as evidence that their lives are in danger, they have instead been returned to Mexico. This is, quite simply, cruelty for the sake of cruelty.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general ruled that government agencies cannot be held liable for the deaths of two migrant children while in custody late last year. This despite documented evidence and testimony demonstrating systemic medical neglect in detention facilities. This despite the fact that even routine preventive treatment such as flu vaccination is being denied migrants in these overcrowded, fetid camps. When doctors with a group called Doctors for Camp Closure recently attempted to deliver free vaccinations to detainees, the Border Patrol denied the doctors access to the camps and police then arrested them.
Also this week, reports circulated that ICE has asked courts to reopen the cases of several DACA recipients whose deportation proceedings were administratively closed by the courts years ago. This is an extraordinary and vicious development. The government may be doing this so that if the Supreme Court allows the administration to shut down DACA next year, it can immediately begin deporting Dreamers to countries that many have not seen since childhood.
We must bear witness. Because this criminal negligence, this utter disregard for human life, this sadism, is happening in our name, courtesy of the US government.
That’s the Signal. And the Noise? Trump’s mocking a dead congressman by intimating that he’s in hell is a pretty good candidate for verbal stink bomb of the week.
As we enter 2020, remember that everything we value, everything we care about, every concept of dignity and decency in politics is on the line. Keep focused on the Signal. And may 2020 be the year this gangster government finally comes a-tumbling down.