by Morris Meyer
Yesterday, I had a co-worker who is Russian come to my desk and sit down on the floor. In hushed tones, he told me that in his life in the Soviet bloc countries, he had never heard of taking kids away from their parents. During Stalin perhaps, but not after Stalin. He was quite concerned, and I set him up locally to fight in the resistance (Fairfax County Democratic Committee). He was really shaken by what is happening at the U.S.-Mexico border and was asking me in the process of re-evaluating living in America for his family (two young kids).
I also talked with my Trump-voting friend tonight. He asked me about this situation, and I told him about looking up the US code and finding that there was no law taking kids away from parents. He then picked up his phone and asked if that was the policy. Was forwarded to the snopes.com website that debunked the Trump admin’s claims. It said that this was a specific policy of the admin put into place by Attorney General Jeff Sessions during April and May. After reading all of that he said – “conservative radio was wrong today.”
Words I never thought I’d hear.
Somehow I managed to quietly ask: “what do you mean?”. He said that Limbaugh and some other guy were claiming that this is currently the law and that Congress had to fix it (the Trump line). We then spoke about having to read into what is happening and have ones wits while all this is going on.
Tonight we got word from the AP that babies and toddlers are being incarcerated in three to four facilities in Texas. We also got word that our two Senators sent a letter through proper channels about this policy, like we are living in the 1960s and we have a government that is not lurching toward an authoritarian nightmare.
It would behoove both of our Senators to read Madeleine Albright’s “Fascism”, Amy Siskind’s “The List”, and Livitsky and Ziblatt’s “How Democracies Die” and reflect on whether a letter through channels is an appropriate response to a shame worse than Japanese internment. We did not separate families during the Japanese internment. Even worse, the administration has no plan to reunite the families that they separate. The administration is lying top to bottom that there is a law to separate families and even folks that voted for Trump can understand that. They are plainly using this policy to extort political pressure for funding for the wall.
The Democrats in the Senate coming to agreement on a bill to end this administration policy are pre-negotiating with hostage takers. The legislative branch in our country is made to check the executive, and adopting the administration’s false frame that this is a Democratic law and somehow Democrats must be made to do something about it is accepting the President’s framing without putting up a fight.
In the mold of Truman speaking the truth, it is important to match our truth to the actions of the day.
The administration has chosen to enact a policy that is terrorizing a population fleeing violence, and has stated that it has taken this course to achieve its political ends. The United States does not negotiate with terrorists, and the Democratic Party should not negotiate with an administration that is using political terrorism as a tactic.
As soon as this administration policy is rescinded and families are verifiably reunited with their children, the Democratic Party should stand ready to address any and all immigration issues that are important to the American people. But first, President Trump needs to cease this humanitarian crisis, end the continual lies, stop dehumanizing refugees, and take his job of preserving and protecting America’s constitution seriously.