Nel's New Day

June 22, 2018

Immigration Executive Order No Panacea

Almost two years ago, Republicans cheered after they took over the executive branch, the Congress, and most of the Supreme Court in the 2016 election. Yet they keep failing. Yesterday, a bill proposed by hard-line conservatives failed by 231-193 votes; a second bill negotiated by conservatives and moderates didn’t get to the floor. The GOP refused to involve any Democrats. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said that he’d sign either bill but later discouraging some GOP voters with a defeatist tweet that the Senate could reject any House bill. Last year, Democrats made a deal with DDT that included funding for a wall, but he backed off of the agreement. (The House did pass a farm bill by 213-211 with restrictive work requirements for most adult food-stamp recipients although the provisions won’t survive the Senate.)

Clinging to his job as House Speaker until the end of the year, Paul Ryan (R-WI) tried to paint a positive picture of his failures as “the seeds … for an ultimate solution.” If so, the plant is growing very slowly: Congress has failed to pass immigration reform since the unsuccessful Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.

Today, DDT sent a series of angry tweets telling congressional Republicans to quit on the immigration issue until the fall elections when he predicted a “Red Wave” that will pass his wall funding. Yet DHS secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, claims that the government may start separating children again if Congress doesn’t pass a bill that DDT wants—aka build the wall.

Asked what he thinks of people comparing ICE to Nazis, acting director Thomas Homan said that the comparison is unfair because ICE is “simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress,” a lie or misconception. Simply following directions was also the Nuremberg defense used by German’s Nazis for their crimes. Then asked if his ICE protocol was “humane,” Homan froze, stumbled, thought, and then said, “I think—I think it is the law.” Homan plans to retire.

The U.S. Border Patrol may have changed its policy to criminally charge parents with children who illegally cross the border. Border agents at McAllen (TX) has suspended prosecution of adults suspended until ICE has places for their incarceration, which leaves families together. Many migrant parents and children may even be released from custody while awaiting court hearings.

The Pentagon is sending 21 military prosecutors to the Mexico border for 179 days to “work full time, assisting in prosecuting reactive border immigration cases, with a focus on misdemeanor improper entry and felony illegal reentry cases.” These lawyers may not be prepared for what they will face. In an essay about ICE court proceedings, Erik Hanshew, Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso (TX), reported the dismaying ignorance demonstrated by the court testimony from a border agent regarding clients separated from their children. She said she didn’t know that the accused had been accompanied by a four-year-old taken from him at the border and knew nothing about where the child might be or how the family could be reunited. The judge slammed his hand on the desk and demanded:

“If someone at the jail takes your wallet, they give you a receipt. They take your kids, and you get nothing? Not even a slip of paper?”

If you read Hanshew’s essay, you might need a box of tissues.

DDT and his administration changed their story (lies?) 14 times in one week. DDT said that “you can’t [end the separation] through an executive order,” that it required congressional action, until he signed an order claiming to end the separation. He could easily have told the DOJ not to criminally prosecute every person who crossed the border and instead release them for a later hearing, but he said that this would make the U.S. seem “weak.” Signing the executive order contradicts DDT’s accusation that President Obama abused his executive authority by issuing an executive order protecting the young immigrant Dreamers. DDT promised that he would rarely use executive orders but signed 77 of them in his first 516 days—twice as many as those signed by President Obama and George W. Bush.

The order does not specify where the families will be detained and whether children will still be separated while facilities for families are built. It also does not return children to their parents, probably impossible because the federal government doesn’t know how to put families back together. Even if a few families can be reunited, migrants have been stripped of all their belongs and left with only the clothing that they wear. A janitor reported that he found not only canned food in the garbage but also such personal items as Bibles and rosaries and wedding rings—even children’s toys that could have been comforting to them.

DDT is so afraid of information coming from his Trumpvilles, he has forbidden everyone—including members of Congress—to tour a facility without permission two weeks earlier and to talk with the children. He has good reason because children might talk about their beatings, isolation cells, and lack of clothing and blankets in cold cells for months and years of incarceration. Children who could be released within six months after through vetting and FBI background check cannot leave these prisons until DDT’s director of the Office of Refugee Resettlements, Scott Lloyd, who is allowed to not sign off on releases after DDT’s new policy. These children may be left in the prisons for years with hopes that they will age out at 18 and then be deported. Lloyd became better known after he became known as anti-contraception and fought giving immigrant teenage girls their rights to have an abortion after being raped. Although all unaccompanied immigrant children, the term used for migrant children separated from their parents, are transferred to ORR custody after detention at the border, Lloyd plans stricter standards for acceptance into ORR custody.

The presidents of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued a statement to stop separating migrant children from parents, citing research about physical and mental damage to all parties. These people have also suffered great trauma by giving up any stability in their lives and then journey up to 2,000 miles by walking, catching rides in the backs of trucks, and riding freight trains. They suffer sleep deprivation, weather extremes, and possibly violence and kidnapping. When they seek asylum, they face disorientation in huge cold windowless warehouses with cages and lights that stay on day and night. Children’s development regresses, and they become clingy or aggressive. The hormone dysfunctions cause brain changes such as serious learning, developmental, and health programs. The longer the stress and trauma, the longer the outcome. Parents go into depression and suicidal ideation.

American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners all oppose the separation of these children. Conservatives who don’t care about the damage to children from the separation might be concerned about the financial costs of these separations. Just one year of child maltreatment costs $124 billion per child over one person’s lifetime. This study that produced this conclusion was based on physical, sexual, and verbal abuse that is a percentage of how border agents are terrorizing migrant children. Keeping children in the new tent cities costs $775 per night compared to the expenditure of $298 per night if they stay with their parents in a detention center. That’s an extra $174,000 a year–per child.

Young children, toddlers, and infants who cannot be touched by their so-called caregivers are now being drugged by the private contractors hired for their care. Powerful drugs cause them to be unable to walk, afraid of people, and falling after being drugged because they have been forcibly separated from parents by men with guns. One child was thrown against a door by a shelter worker after the child tried to open a window before she was choked until she fainted. Children at Shiloh Treatment Center, run by private contractors, are told that they won’t be released or see their parents unless they took psychotropic drugs that the caregivers called vitamins. Lawyers report that they have seen this use of psychotropic drugs in all facilities with unaccompanied migrant children. Medications have severe side effect—falling, serious weight gain, etc.

Melania Trump visited children in a Lutheran shelter, not a private contractor prison. Getting on and off the plane, she wore a jacket that read, “I really don’t care, do U?” Told that the average stay at the facility was 42-45 days, she said, “That’s great.” To the children, she said, “Be kind and nice to others, OK?” and then “Good luck” to children who may never see their parents again.

DDT thought that the destruction of thousands of families would be a victory like the cultural war surrounding NFL players kneeling for the national anthem. Furious about way that his latest debacle overshadowed what he saw as his success in North Korea, he gathered families of people killed by undocumented immigrants and delivered his lies about the dangers of immigration. If DDT plans to stop separating children from parents, why did he order the Pentagon to build facilities for 20,000 children in isolated military bases—after he signed the order? The stock market rose today after falling for the rest of the week as shares in private prison operators CoreCivic Inc and Geo Group went up from the hope of additional detention for immigrants.

Immigration is good: that’s what 75 percent of people in the U.S. believe. Even 65 percent of Republicans agree with this statement. Only 29 percent believe that immigration should be decreased. And DDT’s poll numbers are going back down.

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