US Representative Elijah Cummings is furious about Donald Trump’s immigration policy that is separating young kids from their families
We’re locked into a familiar pattern now: Trump announces or does something outrageous, we all pull our hair out and, horrified, think “He’s really done it this time… this is the last straw.” But then, inevitably, we move onto the next scandal. Perhaps we just need to accept that for the next few years at least, things are going to be really, properly bad.
And the latest issue rocking the States is the Trump administration’s heinous treatment of immigrant children at the US border. Effectively, every adult trying to cross the border is now being prosecuted by authorities and their kids are being taken and, in many cases, kept in cages.
The news site ProPublica got their hands on this audio of children screaming in terror as they’re held in captivity away from their parents.
Be warned, though, it makes for very upsetting listening.
And the US Congress is now weighing in and demanding the White House reverse course with their policy. On Tuesday, US Representative Elijah Cummings launched an emotional attack on the policy.
“Even if you believe immigration should be halted entirely, we all should be able to agree that in the United States of America, we will not intentionally separate children from their parents, we will not do that. We are better than that. We are so much better. We should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely and hidden away from public view. What country is that?” Cummings said sternly.
“We should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely and hidden away from public view. What country is that? This is the United States of America.”
And he wasn’t the only person to be emotionally moved by the situation immigrant children find themselves in.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow broke down on her show yesterday when discussing the news that babies and infants are being held in so-called ‘tender age’ shelters in Texas:
Maddow later apologised on Twitter for breaking down and explained why she wasn’t able to read the update:
Ugh, I'm sorry.— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 20, 2018
If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I'm on TV.
What I was trying to do -- when I suddenly couldn't say/do anything -- was read this lede:
"Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas...— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 20, 2018
"Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the "tender age" shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis...— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 20, 2018
"Decades after the nation’s child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents...— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 20, 2018
“The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, “Toddlers are being detained.”— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) June 20, 2018
In a final stomach-turning development, Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski has provoked outrage after mocking a disabled child who was separated from her family at the US border.
During an appearance on Fox News yesterday, Lewandowski responded “womp, womp” when fellow panelist Zac Petkanas shared the account of a 10-year-old girl with Down’s syndrome:
The New York Times has reported that nervous Republicans in Congress are trying to defuse this brewing crisis by passing legislation that would keep detained migrant families together but are so far struggling to agree on how to do this.
But, of course, Donald Trump has the legal authority to stop the separation of families right now if he wanted to.
“The president can end this crisis with the flick of his pen, and he needs to do so now,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
All this raises disturbing questions about why the Trump administration is pursuing this policy. Some have suggested it could be a deliberately racist political strategy in the lead up to the midterm elections.
The Slate’s Jamelle Bouie has written: “It was always clear Trump would lean on racism to try to win the midterms. What’s now apparent is the shape and scope of that appeal.”
This explicit reliance on racism to win elections would be a return to form for the Republican party who, in the 20th century, exploited racism against African Americans to increase political support among white voters in the south in a programme known as the Southern strategy. In 2005, Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman formally admitted and apologised for this scheme.
Is the GOP returning to these dark, racist days? With Trump in the White House, it sure looks like it.