Saturday, June 23, 2018

Immigration retrospective - the week that should not have been.

In the era of Trump, every week is incredible. But this was a really incredible week. After defending the inhumane “zero tolerance” policy that rips children from their parents and then, either by incompetence or corrupt intent, ships them in the dead of night to detention facilities without any paper trail, Trump signed an executive order that stops the separation but leaves in place the 2300 kids that have been separated to date. (That’s an incredibly long sentence but, like I said, it’s been that kind of week.)

The Guardian has a retrospective look at this last week by David Smith in How family separations caused Trump’s first retreat – and deepened his bunker mentality. Besieged by negative press over pictures of frightened children, the president backed off. But his allies remain and the party is still his to command. Remember that a majority of Republicans think that Trump’s immigration policy is just A-OK.

Ostensibly, Trump’s executive order ended the separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border, after days of cascading outrage in America and around the world.

"He had to sign it for one simple reason,” said Michael Steele, former chairman of the Republican National Committee. “The imagery was so bad that he could no longer justify the policy. You had people out there making complete asses of themselves in front of cameras, from the attorney general to the secretary of homeland security, justifying this inhumanity and blaming the migrants who are coming here seeking asylum.”

Steele added: “There’s no doubt it absolutely was the critical piece that changed this around for the president because you cannot argue with the image of a three-year-old child standing at her mother’s side crying as she’s being handcuffed and taken from her no matter how much you try, no matter how much you try to rally your base around it. Some of the polling started to show even members of his base thought, ‘Well that that may be a little bit too far – maybe.’”

There were family separations before Trump but officials usually erred on the side of keeping parents and their children together. The justice department’s announcement in April that all unlawful border crossings would be criminally prosecuted changed that. Now people without documents were sent directly to detention centres and their children and babies put in separate facilities.

America looked at itself in the mirror and did not like what it saw. All four living former first ladies spoke out. Church leaders raised their voices. Liberal cable news host Rachel Maddow broke down in tears during a live broadcast. Bruce Springsteen, performing on Broadway, told his audience: “We are seeing things right now on our American borders that are so shockingly and disgracefully inhumane and un-American that it is simply enraging.”

Then there was First Lady Melania Trump, who flew to a children’s detention centre in Texas but upended her mission of compassion by wearing a Zara jacket bearing a slogan: “I really don’t care. Do U?” Her spokeswoman said there was no hidden message; her husband said there was a hidden message about the media.

Steele said: “It’s fucking 90 degrees here in Washington and Texas. I’m sorry, what do you think the response is going to be if you wear a coat like that going to the place you’re going in the midst of the controversy which your husband’s administration is embroiled in? How can you not think that people would say you’re basically flipping off this whole thing?”

Rich Galen, a Republican strategist and former press secretary to vice-president Dan Quayle, said: “Trump got to the point where even Republicans in the House or Senate openly disagreed with him, which they have not been willing to do on almost anything before this. The Republicans were getting blistered by their constituents and starting to sense they need to establish their own personalities in their districts. If I was a Democrat woman running against a Republican man, this is all I’d run [in TV commercials].”

The Republican rebellion should not be overstated, however. [Sen. Ted] Cruz and others were careful to swerve past condemnation of Trump, who remains utterly dominant in the party. …

Steele reflected: “I’m not going to give them brownie points for doing something that they should do without having to feel that they should get a pat on the back. There’s no applause for that because you’ve let so many other things go unaccounted for, uncommented on, you’ve turned your head the other way, looking in shame instead of standing straight up and going, ‘This is wrong.’ We are here because those leaders and significant numbers of our neighbours and friends have allowed us to be here. They want us to be here. This is the space we’re in. So now we have to deal with this.”

The sentiment was echoed by Neil Sroka, communications director for the progressive political action committee Democracy for America. “I don’t think they found their backbone as much as they found a level they could not withstand politically,” he said. “The last week showed they only care about the politics of the situation: it doesn’t matter how many brown lives they ruin as long as they advance Donald Trump’s agenda.

Sroka said: “Something in Donald Trump’s reptilian brain couldn’t understand the morality but understood that using children as bargaining chips is politically toxic. The fallback position we’re in now is equally toxic. He went from the government kidnapping children to the Department of Defense setting up internment camps for families.”

And remember: “It also does nothing to reunite those already separated.”

Zoe Carpenter at The Nation reports that The Trump Administration Still Has No Plan to Reunite Families It Tore Apart. The 2,300 children who have been taken from their parents face a tangled legal process and a shortage of lawyers to help them through it.

… rather than clarify the problems facing separated families, Trump’s executive order only replaces one disastrous policy with another. Officials are reportedly preparing to house as many as 20,000 children and their families on military bases, a plan that may well violate the Flores settlement, which establishes basic protections for children in federal custody. Accordingly, the Trump administration is petitioning a court to dismantle Flores. “In some respects, the executive order makes things worse,” Efrén Olivares said. “The use of military facilities and the potential construction of additional facilities is outrageous. In 2018, to be building internment camps for immigrants is unconscionable.”

To that I would add a reminder that Justice requisitioned 21 JAG lawyers from Defense to work on immigration matters at the border. These are active U. S. military working in service of civilian policies in the 50 states. Together with the housing of immigrants on military bases, that strikes me as a violation of posse comitatus. From Wikipedia, “In the United States, a federal statute known as the Posse Comitatus Act, enacted in 1878, forbade the use of the United States Army, and through it, its offspring, the United States Air Force, as a posse comitatus or for law enforcement purposes without the approval of Congress.” But that would not be the only law trampled by the Trumpians.

And when you drill down to the individual level, the cases of children separated from their parents is a psychological nightmare. Amanda Schaffer at The New Yorker reports on A Physician in South Texas on an Unnerving Encounter with an Eight-Year-Old Boy in Immigration Detention.

(Below are snippets but you should read the entire article that describes interactions of the physician with the adult handlers of that boy. Sick.)

Alicia Hart has worked as an emergency physician in South Texas for ten years, and has seen a stream of migrant children from Guatemala and Honduras come to the U.S. fleeing gang violence. In the past, most of the kids in her care were teen-agers who had crossed the border unaccompanied and ended up in government detention facilities. Many of them were fifteen, sixteen, or seventeen years old and seemed capable of living away from their families. Most came to the emergency room for common childhood complaints, such as viral illnesses, asthma, and allergies. “Some had sad stories from their home countries, but they seemed relieved to be here,” Hart said. “It seemed like most were just waiting to be sent to relatives in the U.S.”

But then the Trump Administration began to enforce a “zero tolerance” approach toward migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, a move that included separating parents from their children. (The President apparently revoked the policy on Wednesday.) The number of young children in detention facilities rose sharply. “The population I’ve been starting to see is younger, and it scares me,” Hart said. “These are little people, little babies. And they are ill-equipped to fend for themselves. They’re so totally traumatized. They don’t cry like normal kids. They don’t interact like normal kids.”

Last week, on a day when Hart was on duty, the charge nurse called her over to examine a child who needed clearance for psychiatric treatment. He was eight years old, and he sat hunched in a recliner chair next to the nurses’ station. …

"This boy seemed devastated—quiet and withdrawn. He barely spoke. I asked if he needed a hug. I kneeled down in front of the recliner, and this kid just threw himself into my arms and didn’t let go. He cried and I cried. And to think he’s been in a facility for a month without a hug, away from his parents, and scared, and not knowing when he’ll see them again or if he’ll see them again. … If we get these kids to the psychiatrists, at least they’re in a protective unit, away from these detention facilities, and they will get some of the counselling they need, because they’ve been through a tremendous trauma. The idea of pulling a child out of a parent’s arms, or identifying a parent but still keeping them separate—it isn’t right. Just deep in your viscera, you say, ‘This is wrong.’ ”

And, sadly, there is no end in sight of the wrong inflicted by Trump on the immigrants and on our nation. Expect more revelations of more wrongs in the week starting tomorrow, another week that should never be.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Arizona Fails Another Test

Yesterday, the Network for Public Education and the Schott Foundation for Public Education, released a report titled “Grading the States” that serves as a report card on our nation’s commitment to public schools. At the onset, they challenge the belief in privatization as the solution and write,
Although the public school system is not perfect and has continual room for improvement, it is still the cornerstone of community empowerment and advancement in American society.
Therein, I believe, lies the rub. Those driving America’s economic engine, don’t want everyone aboard the train. Instead, those who most “have”, are working very hard to leave the “have nots” at the station. As Stephen Brill writes in his new book “Tailspin”,
Conservatives have always preached self-reliance while liberals favored an activist government that assures the common good. However, [what we are seeing now] is a new, wider, and more dangerous divide - between those at the top, who enjoy unprecendented power, and everyone else. For those at the top, the common good is no longer good for them.
Even though many Americans have become polarized into either the Conservative or Liberal camps, the real fight isn't there. Increasingly, it is between the MEGA "haves" and the "have-nots". Truth is, for these MEGA "haves", political ideology and allegiance to our nation, are likely much less important than maintaining and improving their status. After all, in our global economy, our country's borders are no barrier to their multi-national interests and in their gilded worlds, not only do they increasingly not care about the common good, they don’t even need it. And nothing, is more all about the “common good” than public education. It provides opportunity to all and is largely responsible for building the strongest middle class in the world, once making the American Dream a possibility for many.
Now, that Dream is largely out-of-reach by the vast majority of Americans and the assault on public education is a real threat to our nation. As “Grading the States” points out,
Privatization in public schools weakens our democracy and often sacrifices the rights and opportunities of the majority for the presumed advantage of a small percentage of students.
Those paying attention, are aware of the threat. What "Grading the States" does, is drive home the havoc being wreaked by grading each state according to “instituted policies and practices that lead toward fewer democratic opportunities and more privatization”, as well as “the guardrails put into place [or not] to protect the rights of students, communities and taxpayers”.
It should surprise no Arizona public school advocate that our state received an “F” rating. It also should not surprise that Arizona was ranked 51st overall, 50th in voucher policy and 49th in charter policy.
Delving into further details, the report notes that,
Of the 18 states with Tuition Tax-Credit Programs, 9 fail to require any accreditation of the schools that receive a benefit from such Tuition Tax-Credit Programs. Arizona has the worst accountability over their Tuition Tax-Credit Programs. Except for requiring background checks for teachers and employees, Arizona’s Tuition Tax-Credit Programs fail all the reviewed accountability categories.
It also points out that although privatization advocates claim “vouchers and charter programs are more accountable than public schools”, research just doesn’t bear this out.
For example, the ESA program of Arizona, the largest in the country, expects no evidence or monitoring of student achievement, while placing 90% of the public school funding on a debit card for parents to find non-public education services.
Only public district schools after all, have locally elected governing board members, who are accountable to the voters and taxpayers, and must adhere to open meeting laws.
Perhaps craziest of all, is that we are all being sold a bill of goods that aren't, by and large, delivering better results and that most of us really don't want. According to the report, a poll conducted in October 2017 found that,
among all registered voters, only 40 percent supported vouchers while 55 percent are opposed. This number further decreases to 23 percent with opposition at 70 percent when voters were asked to consider support if it meant less money for public schools.
In Arizona, a December 2016 poll supported these findings, showing that 77 percent indicated the state should spend more money on our schools and 61 percent indicated they would support a tax increase to provide additional funding for education.
To understand why then, the push to privatize is being pursued with such vigor, one need only follow the profit and power. The U.S. K-12 education market is estimated to be worth some $700 billion. The oversight of public education is the most fundamental exercise of our right to self-govern and in many communities, our districts are the hubs of those communities. If the privatizers succeed in killing our right to, and interest in, engaging on behalf of our children, what engagement will we still care about?

Can the bar no longer be lowered? Borowitz says yes. Scriber says no and reports 18,000 reasons why the bar is not yet bottomed out

Bar Officially Cannot Be Lowered claims New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz.

MINNEAPOLIS (The Borowitz Report)—A group of scholars who have been monitoring the descent of the bar over the past few decades have concluded that the bar can no longer be lowered, the scholars announced on Friday.

The academics, led by Professor Davis Logsdon, of the University of Minnesota, published their conclusion after their research definitively found that the bar had finally dropped to its lowest possible position.

“For those who thought the bar still had room to be lowered, our findings resoundingly contradict that assumption,” Logsdon said. “The bar is now essentially flush with the ground.”

Logsdon acknowledged that he and his fellow scholars have come under fire in the past for claiming that the bar could not be further lowered, specifically when they issued a paper to that effect after the selection of the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee in 2008.

“We got that one wrong,” he said. “Clearly, the bar still had a way to go.”

Now that the issue of whether the bar can be further lowered has been settled, Logsdon and his colleagues plan to examine the question of whether there is anything left to scrape at the bottom of the barrel. “Our findings are preliminary, but it appears that the answer is no,” he said.

Scriber usually thinks Andy is spot on in his reporting the reshuffled news. However, to this one I must take exception. The quoted researchers from the UofM are incorrect. The bar, while really low, is nowhere near the minimum on the Scriber’s HLCYG (how-low-can-you-go) scale.

The NY Times reports that Federal health officials asked the Pentagon to prepare to house as many as 20,000 unaccompanied migrant children on military bases. “New, makeshift detention facilities are being envisioned to house thousands of immigrant families that are crossing illegally into the United States following President Trump’s executive order on Wednesday, which called for detaining parents and children together instead of separating them.” There are over 2000 children in the distribution system subsequent to Trump’s zero tolerance policy that separates the children from their parents. Scriber’s HLCYG score is 20,000 - 2,000 = 18,000. So the bar has that far to drop before it is as low as you can go.

Mr. and Mrs. Trump on the world stage - We really don't care ... but we want you to think we do. Meanwhile, teens, toddlers, and babies are traumatized by separation from parents.

Welcome to America
Trump finally makes cover of Time

Perhaps he deserved the recognition for his treatment of our closest allies. Here’s an insider report from Ian Bremmer that Trump tossed candy to Merkel at G–7, said ‘don’t say I never give you anything’.

President Trump reportedly tossed Starburst candies to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his tense meeting with Group of Seven (G–7) leaders weeks ago, Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer said Wednesday.

While appearing on CBS News, Bremmer painted a grim picture of Trump and Merkel’s relationship amid heightened conflict between the president and other G–7 members over his steep steel and aluminum tariffs and suggestion that Russia be reinstated into the group.

Bremmer went on to describe a bizarre incident toward the end of the summit, when Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined some of other the allies “to press Trump directly to sign the [group] communique that talked about the commitment to a rules-based international order.”

“Trump was sitting there with his arms crossed, clearly not liking the fact that they were ganging up on him,” Bremmer said to the news outlet. “He eventually agreed and said OK, he’ll sign it. And at that point, he stood up, put his hand in his pocket, his suit jacket pocket, and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything.’ ”

“The relationship is about as dysfunctional as we’ve seen between America and its major allies since the trans-Atlantic relationship really started after World War II,” Bremmer continued.

Shortly after the summit, Trump refused to endorse the joint communique signed by the other G–7 members, rebuking Trudeau and threatening to impose further tariffs on the country. The president also earned a rebuttal from Merkel on Tuesday after he criticized her country’s immigration system, falsely claiming crime in her country was on the rise.

Melania's Message
Melania's message

The Guardian reports that Melania Trump wears ‘I don’t care’ jacket on way to child detention center.

When Melania Trump met with detained children at the Texas border on Thursday, she struck a compassionate tone, asking staff at the facility: “How I can help … these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible?”

Earlier in the day, though, the first lady’s attire sent a different message. As she boarded a plane to Texas, she appeared to be wearing a Zara jacket with the astonishing caption: “I really don’t care. Do U?”

Photos taken as she boarded the plane at Andrews airbase didn’t capture the jacket’s full text, but it seems to be the same as the one that costs $39 and is available from the Zara website [pictured here].

According to a pool report, Trump’s communications director Stephanie Grisham told a reporter via email: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.”

Of course not. We would not be so petty. But we would, like others, try to understand the message and the motive.

And about her helping “these children to reunite with their families”? Perhaps she has not heard the news. The children get handed off to the HHS after interception by the border patrol. And the HHS, evening reports say, has no clue at all about how to match up the kids with their parents. They are shipped to detention centers all over the U. S. with no trail of any sort - paper or electronic - that would enable a match. The head of HHS says there is no problem. Here is the video from last night’s Rachel Maddow show.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

We should all cry - 2000+ children still separated and housed in impoverished environments

538’s morning email has this “significant digit”.

$1.5 billion in taxpayer money
Over the past four years, more than $1.5 billion in U.S. taxpayer money has gone to private companies that operate immigrant youth shelters. These shelters have been accused of “serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse,” according to a recent investigation. Now, these private facilities are beginning to house the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. [Reveal]

And the thing is, these 2000 plus children are not covered by Trump’s executive order stopping his separation policy. They are still separated from their parents and are likely to remain so for the forseeable future.

The source for that 538 significant digits item reveals that Migrant children sent to shelters with histories of abuse allegations.

Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 billion in the past four years to private companies operating immigrant youth shelters accused of serious lapses in care, including neglect and sexual and physical abuse, a Reveal investigation has found.

In nearly all cases, the federal government has continued to place migrant children with the companies even after serious allegations were raised and after state inspectors cited shelters with serious deficiencies, government and other records show.

Since 2003, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department has awarded nearly $5 billion in grants through the Office of Refugee Resettlement, mostly to religious and nonprofit organizations in 18 states, to house children who arrive in the country unaccompanied. …

Now this web of private facilities, cobbled together to support children with nowhere else to go, is beginning to hold a new population: the more than 2,000 children who arrived with their parents but were separated from them because of a Trump administration policy.

In Texas, where the resettlement agency awarded the majority of the grants, state inspectors have cited homes with more than 400 deficiencies, about one-third of them serious.

Images in recent days show children warehoused in a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, guarded by Department of Homeland Security officers dressed in body armor and carrying long guns. But that facility is a temporary way station. From there, immigrant children resettled through the Office of Refugee Resettlement often are sent into the messy reality of foster care and shelters designed for unaccompanied minors.

revealnews.org documents what happens when the children are housed in these homes and shelters. It is not pretty. There is a long list of charges of neglect, physical abuse, and even sexual assault. I can’t do justice to that list - there is just too much.

Psychological consequences of separation

All that connects to my own professional experience as a cognitive psychologist.

After returning from service in the U.S. Army in 1966, I enrolled in college and one of my first courses was Differential Psychology, the study of individual differences. I became interested in the broad topic of the origins of intelligence. In that course I learned about the effects of early experience on intellectual and social development. My first published research was on enriched environments on the emotional development of laboratory rats. I then began my research career by investigating effects of enriched vs. impoverished environments on brain chemistry and anatomy and behavior.)

A major influence on that body of research and theory was the pioneering work of the English psychologist John Bowlby. Here are lightly edited excerpts from Bowlby’s Wikipedia entry.

[During World War II], Bowlby examined 44 delinquent children from Canonbury who had a history of stealing and compared them to “controls” from Canonbury that were being treated for various reasons but did not have a history of stealing.

One of Bowlby’s main findings through his research with these children was that 17 out of the 44 thieves experienced early and prolonged separation (six months or more) from their primary caregiver before the age of five.[12] In comparison, only two out of the 44 children who did not steal had experienced prolonged separation from their primary care giver before the age of five. More specifically, Bowlby found that 12 out of the 14 children were categorized as affectionless were found to have experienced complete and prolonged separation before the age of five. These findings were important and brought more attention to the impact of a child’s early environmental experiences on their healthy development.

Although not without its critics, attachment theory has been described as the dominant approach to understanding early social development and it has given rise to a great surge of empirical research into the formation of children’s close relationships. As it is presently formulated and used for research purposes, Bowlby’s attachment theory stresses the following important tenets:

(1) Children between 6 and 30 months are very likely to form emotional attachments to familiar caregivers, especially if the adults are sensitive and responsive to child communications.

(2) The emotional attachments of young children are shown behaviourally in their preferences for particular familiar people; their tendency to seek proximity to those people, especially in times of distress; and their ability to use the familiar adults as a secure base from which to explore the environment.

(3) The formation of emotional attachments contributes to the foundation of later emotional and personality development, and the type of behaviour toward familiar adults shown by toddlers has some continuity with the social behaviours they will show later in life.

(4) Events that interfere with attachment, such as abrupt separation of the toddler from familiar people or the significant inability of carers to be sensitive, responsive or consistent in their interactions, have short-term and possible long-term negative impacts on the child’s emotional and cognitive life.

A case study

In this morning’s Daily Star, Janni Simner shares her experience in I know what family separation looks like. Simner recounts her experience with an adopted daughter and then connects to the current thousands of children separated from their parents. Here are excerpts.

My daughter was well-cared for before we adopted her. She was safe, well-fed, and genuinely loved by her foster nannies. When those nannies left her, my husband and I were with her 24/7 to guide her and love her through a challenging transition and help her become the resilient, secure, curious, laughter-filled child she is today.

Young Central Americans are losing a family at our border instead. They’re being handed to officials who may not speak their language and almost certainly don’t have training working with traumatized children. When those officials shuttle them to a place such as the Southwest Key facility here in Tucson, they’re not handed to the dedicated one-on-one caregivers they need, but to a rotating team of staffers responsible for a great many children and with limited time for each of them.

These children are no worse and no less deserving than my daughter was. They’re simply children, and they need to be with their parents. Every moment matters. Lawmakers at every level — and those of us who elected them — need to act immediately to reunite every last separated family and halt future separations.

Thousands of young lives and young futures depend on it.

Why we should cry

Rachel Maddow breaks down in tears on air while reading report on ‘tender age’ shelters is the longer version of what I posted yesterday.

When she first received the breaking news report, Rachel Maddow seemed to be holding it together like any other night.

“This has just come out from the Associated Press,” the MSNBC television host said as she began reading the report in front of her. She paused, swallowing.

“This is incredible. Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children …”

Her voice catching, Maddow covered her mouth. She tried to keep going. “… to at least three …”

Then she stopped again, visibly tearing up.

“Put up the graphic of this,” she asked, pointing to the camera, her lips quivering. “Thank you. Do we have it? No.”

Maddow continued reading: “…three tender age shelters in South Texas. Lawyers and medical providers …” She stopped again. “I think I’m going to have to hand this off.”

“Sorry, that does it for us tonight. We’ll see you again tomorrow,” she said, handing the show over to host Lawrence O’Donnell.

After the show, she tweeted an apology for breaking down.

“Ugh, I’m sorry,” she said. “If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I’m on TV.”

She explained that she was “unable to read” the Associated Press story that broke while she was on the air. She linked to the article, which reported that at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas have been housing children as young as babies. The story cited lawyers and medical providers who described “playrooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis.”

Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment,” Maddow said. “Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile.”

But many viewers on Twitter said that Maddow expressed a sentiment felt by scores of Americans amid the Trump administration’s forced separation of migrant children from their parents at the border. The Department of Homeland Security has said 2,342 children have been separated from their parents since last month. Stories and images of children held in chain-link cages have sparked outrage nationwide.

“Rachel Maddow crying on live national television is the first thing that has felt sane in two weeks,” one viewer tweeted.

“She represented what millions of Americans have been feeling, and still feel,” said another.

Now put that together with attachment theory. These kids will bear the scars of their treatment at the hands of the Trump administration, likely for the rest of their lives. We should all cry.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Trump's racist policy keeps getting worse - babies and toddlers now in 'tender age' concentration camps

Scriber needs a day off but first I want to point you to today’s post by AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona concerning the Trump policy of separating children, even babies, from their parents: The Trump administration’s defense of the indefensible goes off the rails (updated). At the end he provides an update.

Before that I’ve got another observation. Last night at the very end of the Rachel Maddow show (MSNBC), as she was preparing to hand it over to Lawrence O’Donnell (The Last Word), she got a “just in” note and she started to report on it. She could not finish. She choked up. In tears. And turned away from the camera unable to speak. Lawrence stepped up and started his show a couple of minutes early.

That’s a first. Rachel is one tough lady accustomed to reporting on some of the most gruesome events. So what would trigger that emotional response? The just-in was a report on the Trump administration facilities for babies and toddlers taken from their mothers at the border. HUNDREDS of them sequestered in camps now rebranded by the administration as “tender age”. See her subsequent tweets here and a video of it here.

It keeps getting worse.

UPDATE: The Washington Post editorial board correctly notes The Trump administration created this awful border policy. It doesn’t need Congress to fix it.

[I]t is simply not correct, as Ms. Nielsen suggested Monday, that Congress must act before the crisis of families being separated can be solved. As Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C) said: “President Trump could stop this policy with a phone call . . . If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell [Homeland Security], ‘Stop doing it.’ ”

Instead, CNBC reports Trump told the National Federation of Independent Businesses’ 75th anniversary event in Washington today:

“We want to end the border crisis by finally giving us the legal authorities and the resources to detain and remove illegal immigrant families altogether and bring them back to their country.”

Trump has defined the GOP as the “mass deportation party.” His policies also oppose legal immigration.

“Now think of all that aid that we give to some of these countries,” he said. “Well, I’m going to go very shortly for authorization that when countries abuse us by sending their people up — not their best — we’re not going to give any more aid to those countries.”

That last one was a head banger. The day before on MSNBC former Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson noted that the way to stop asylum seekers is to fix the problems in those countries. And now we have the president doing exactly the opposite, making matters worse by withholding aid. And you know what else? In response to his threat the room erupted in cheers.

The Blue Meanie wrote about Trump “This is a racist consumed by his hatred.”

Scriber extends that charge to the NFIB: “These are racists consumed by Trump’s hatred.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ripping families apart by Trump and his totalitarians is 'an affront to the American people'

Quotes of the Day:
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” - Jesus (quoted by Michael Gerson).
“They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.” - Donald Trump.

Last night (06/18/18 09:00PM), Rachel Maddow reported that Trump accelerates rate of taking migrant kids from parents. “Rachel Maddow reports on the growing outrage over the Donald Trump administration’s policy of forcibly removing children from their parents when they seek asylum in The United States, and notes that the rate at which children are being removed and placed in camps increased from an average of 43 [perday] last month to 67 as of this month.

The outrage and the push-back against Trump’s separation policy that rips families apart grows. Laura Bush Shames Donald Trump and the Republican Party Over Border Policy. So do all other living former and present (!!!) first ladies. ABC News has that story in All 5 first ladies speak out against family-separation immigration policy. Perhaps not surprisingly, Sen. John McCain takes exception to the Trump policy and demands it stop - right now: Immigrant family separations against US values.

The Trump administration’s current family separation policy is “an affront to the decency of the American people” and contrary to principles and values upon which the nation was founded, Republican Sen. John McCain says.

McCain tweeted Monday night that the administration has the power to rescind this policy and “should do so now.”

However, Trump is defending that policy while (falsely) blaming Democrats for it. And the head of Homeland Security doubles down on law enforcement without mercy but with a load of hypocrisy and even heresy.

The Daily Star’s front page feature reports that “Immigration outrage rises, but Trump won’t back down” (at tucson.com as Trump defiant despite rising outrage over border separations).

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said, “We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does, for doing the job that the American people expect us to do.”

In an appearance before the National Sheriffs’ Association in New Orleans, Nielsen said: “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards.”

That last one is highlighted by Michael Gerson (Washington Post) in Trump administration defends border cruelty with heresy (reprinted in the Daily Star this morning).

This policy debate has also demonstrated the broad streak of extremism at the center of the Trump administration. “It was a simple decision by the administration,” explained presidential adviser Stephen Miller, “to have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal entry.” Simple. Simple if you are untroubled by nagging empathy. Simple if you are hardened against the temptation of mercy. Simple if you have lost the ability to feel anger when abused children weep. One gets the impression that Miller, Trump and White House chief of staff John Kelly regard the anguish of migrant children as evidence of a good day’s work.

This is a contagion. In a recent poll, a strong plurality of Republicans (46 percent) supported the policy of family separation at the border. They have been given permission for their worst instincts by the leader of their party — a party whose right flank is now held by the neo-Confederate protesters at Charlottesville.

Dehumanization has a natural progression. It starts by defining a whole race or ethnicity by its worst members — say, rapists or criminals. It moves on to enforce generally applicable laws and rules that especially hurt a target group. Then, as the public becomes desensitized, the group can be singled out for hatred and harm. It is the descent, step by step, into a moral abyss.

And the head of Homeland Security chose to walk right into that abyss.

Those were some of the themes in the reporting today. Following are excerpts from reports expanding on those themes.

David Brooks reports on The Rise of the Amnesty Thugs

Ripping children away from their parents is the most cinematically cruel part of the Trump immigration policy, but it is not the most telling part. The most telling part is what happened to Ludvin Franco.

Franco was an unauthorized immigrant who had been working in this country for over a decade. His wife, Anne, is from a Pennsylvania Dutch family that has been in this country for generations. They were married in 2013 and have three American children, Max, Javier and Valentina.

In the spring of 2017, Franco got in a minor traffic accident near his Pennsylvania home. A few weeks later as he was leaving for work, agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement swarmed him, took him away and deported him to Guatemala. He watched the delivery of his third child through the screen of his cellphone, 3,200 miles away.

This is an example of ICE going after a perfectly productive member of society. I got the anecdote from a series of reports that Deborah Sontag and Dale Russakoff did for ProPublica and The Philadelphia Inquirer. They found that 64 percent of the immigrants arrested by ICE in the agency’s Philadelphia region had no prior criminal conviction.

Sontag and Russakoff capture the fabric of immigration enforcement today: a van-load of men coming back from an Alcoholics Anonymous gathering detained by a state trooper after a routine traffic stop; a magisterial district judge in Camp Hill, Pa., pre-empting a Tajik wedding by calling ICE on the groom and best man, who were led away in handcuffs; work sites raided, with the Latinos separated from everybody else and lined up face to the wall; police officers who ticket Hispanics at a rate of twice or even five times their share of the population.

There are 11 million unauthorized immigrants in this country. Every past administration has used some discretion in targeting whom to deport. They targeted those who were destroying society, not building it. They tried to take account of particular contexts, and they tried to show some sense of basic humanity.

But today, discretion and humanity are being stamped out. The Trump administration has embraced a “zero tolerance” policy. In practice that means that all complexity has to be reduced to uniformity. Compassion is replaced by a blind obedience to regulations. Context is irrelevant. Arrests are indiscriminate. All that matters is that the arrest numbers go up, so human beings in the system are reduced to numbers.

What’s most significant is this: The Trump administration immigration officials have become exactly the kind of monsters that conservatism has always warned against.

BTW - I’ve long maintained that the Republican party is not truly conservative. We can have a conversation, a debate, over conservatism. But we cannot have a conversation about conservatism with Trumpists because their policies are autocratic and hence anti-conservative. Brooks continues.

For centuries, conservatives have repeated a specific critique against state power. Statism, conservatives have argued, has a tendency to become brutalist and inhumane because a bureaucracy can’t see or account for the complexity of reality. It tries to impose uniform rules on the organic intricacy of human relationships. Statist social engineering projects cause horrific suffering because in the mind of statists, the abstract rule is more important than the human being in front of them. The person must be crushed for the sake of the abstraction.

This is exactly what the Trump immigration policies are doing. Families are ripped apart and children are left weeping by the fences constructed by government officials blindly following a regulation.

This illustrates something crucial about this administration. It is not populated by conservatives. It is populated by anti-liberal trolls. There’s a difference.

People like Stephen Miller are not steeped in conservative thinking and do not operate with a conservative disposition. They were formed by their rebellion against the stifling conformity they found at liberal universities. Their primary orientation is not to conservative governance but to owning the libs. In power they take the worst excesses of statism and flip them for anti-liberal ends.

Here’s how you can detect the anti-liberal trolls in the immigration debate: Watch how they use the word “amnesty.” Immigration is a complex issue. Any serious reform has to grapple with tangled realities, and any real conservative has an appreciation for that complexity. But if you try to account for that complexity before an anti-immigration troll, he or she will shout one word: Amnesty!

Maybe we should find some arrangement for the Dreamers? Amnesty! The so-called moderate House immigration bill? Amnesty! Keeping families together? Amnesty!

This is what George Orwell noticed about the authoritarian brutalists: They don’t use words to illuminate the complexity of reality; they use words to eradicate the complexity of reality.

Look at how the Republican candidates for the G.O.P. Senate nomination in Arizona answered questions about a provision to keep families together at the border. They responded with inhumane abstractions: “I try not to get swayed by what the emotions are or the pressure,” Martha McSally said. “Compromising on the rule of law to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants is the wrong path to take,” Kelli Ward replied.

“Amnesty” has become a club the trolls use in their attempt to stamp a rigid steel boot on the neck of the immigration debate. It’s the sign of a party slowly losing its humanity.

And the thing is that the inhumane group of Republicans are the only demographic group to support Trump’s policy of ripping families apart. AZBlueMeanie at Blog for Arizona documents the divide in Senate Republicans are complicit in Trump’s evil.

Holding children as hostages is evil, and Republicans are complicit in his evil.

Americans are overwhelmingly opposed to this immoral, cruel and inhumane family-separation policy, except for one distinct group of Americans — you guessed it — members of the personality cult of Donald Trump. The GOP backs Trump on separating families at the border — which is all he cares about.

Two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family-separation policy:

A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows that the policy is unpopular among Americans — with one big exception.

GOP supports Trump's policy
Republicans support trump's separation policy,
but no one else does

Two-thirds of the country, 66 percent, oppose Trump’s policy, according to the poll. That includes 6 in 10 men and 7 in 10 women.

As is often the case, though, there’s a wide split by party. A majority of Republicans approve of the policy, while 6 in 10 independents and 9 in 10 Democrats oppose it.

Republicans are the only group broken out in Quinnipiac’s polling to support the policy. But other demographic groups that are central to Trump’s base show stronger support for the move. Whites without college degrees, for example, are 11 points more likely to support it than whites with degrees. White men are 13 points more likely to support it than white women. …

Immigrant advocates have long said that the children, primarily from Central America, are fleeing violence in their home countries and seeking safe harbor in the United States. But the Trump administration has used their plight to justify cracking down on [asylum] policies that allow these migrants to be released and obtain hearings before immigration judges, rather than being deported immediately. Trump warns against admitting unaccompanied migrant children: ‘They’re not innocent’ (April 2018).

“We have the worst immigration laws of any country, anywhere in the world,” Trump said at the roundtable held at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center. “They exploited the loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors.”

Trump added: “They look so innocent. They’re not innocent.”

If Republicans can support such evil against young children, what other atrocities are they willing to accept and support from their Dear Leader?

We have a dangerous element in this country, and it is not immigrants. It is the members of the personality cult of Donald Trump.