Reflections on the Border
This week on the Sunday cable news talk shows: Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and This Week — the crisis at the border was a headline issue. Since the report was released by the Inspector General detailing the horrible conditions and attempts to cover up aspects of these conditions (such as a lack of hot meals) politicians, administrative officials, and pundits have been responding to what is an objectively shocking lack of humane treatment of children and adults fleeing from civil unrest and government persecution. Meanwhile President Trump has said these detention facilities are “clean, their good, they do a great job.” His stance on the situation is simple, “Tell them not to come — it’s illegal”, but despite this it is not likely that we will see the end of this crisis anytime soon, and the United States would not likely have any qualms about denouncing any other country that was handling what is essentially a refugee crisis in this way.
On Meet the Press, Senator Jeff Merkley has rightly suggested that the administrations philosophy seems to be that, “It’s okay to treat refugees in this fashion […] if we treat them like this it will stop them from coming”, but he is also correct in saying, “No ethical framework or religious tradition allows you to treat children in this fashion.” While President Trump may believe that the ends he desires justifies his means — like our detainment of Japanese immigrants during WWII — it is highly unlikely anyone will look back on this scar across the face of America and see it as anything else.
On Fox News Sunday, Ken Cuccinelli — echoing Trump — described the facilities as, “Very professional given the circumstances” and went on to say, “It was run well — run safely”. If this is the case then our fire marshal system must not be in place to promote safety, because fire marshal regulations are being disregarded across the board at these facilities despite agency regulations stating that they must be followed at all times.
On This Week, Kevin McAleenan who had previously described NY Times reporting on the CPB’s Clint facility as “unsubstantiated” further clarified his position saying, “there is adequate food and water — the facility is cleaned every day”. While this claim is not necessarily an outright lie, to suggest that bologna sandwiches for weeks or months on end is “adequate food” is misleading — as is trying to suggest conditions are sanitary simply because cleaning is accomplished every day. The Inspect General reportfound that little to no spare clothes were available at these facilities, and that they had no laundry capacity.
While it is undoubtable that there is indeed a crisis at our border, this is a manufactured crisis by our President. He has made the choice to treat asylum seekers in this way because he believes that this is a way to shore up his base and apply pressure to advance his border wall agenda. If we continue to allow our national standards to be eroded away in service of this Presidency our country will continue to make mistakes that will leave us forever scarred. Making sure that this is his final term as our President needs to be at the top of everyone’s list.
By Nicholas Detweiler
Chief of Staff of the Pluralism Project
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