Donald Trump is a modern day boogie man, who rips children from their parents’ arms and locks them up in cages. At the very least the holding facilities for these kids have been compared to the Japanese internment camps of WWII and at the very worst to Nazi concentration camps — and Trump’s favorite newspaper, the Murdoch owned New York Post, is predicting grim tidings in November if the GOP doesn’t do a U-turn:
You can bet that critics will start calling these “Trump’s concentration camps,” and the term will catch on if they’re full of kids.
The polls were starting to suggest that Republicans might not lose big in this November’s midterm elections, but they’ll turn back the other way if this keeps up — and rightly so.
It’s not just that this looks terrible in the eyes of the world. It is terrible: at least 2,000 [actual figure is 11,500] children ripped from their parents’ arms, sometimes literally, in just the first six weeks. […]
We recognize that returning to the policy of two months back creates some perverse incentives: Bring kids along, and you’ll just be deported if you’re caught. But at least switching back avoids having the US government earning comparisons to the Nazis.
If the president doesn’t want to admit defeat, he can just add this to the long list of things he blames on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trying to tough this one out is guaranteed disaster.
While DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson lies through her teeth about the human rights violations taking place, a semantic debate rages on the sidelines about whether “cage” is an accurate description or an inflammatory remark. That started with Breitbart calling out the Associated Press for its “politically-charged word choice” and insisting that “chain link partition” is the correct phrase to use. A rose by any other name…The Atlantic;
Before taking center stage on Sunday, this debate had been slowly building for weeks. Earlier this month, The Washington Post’s fact-checkers scolded Senator Jeff Merkley for saying children were kept in cages, only to earn a counter-rebuke from MSNBC reporter Jacob Soboroff, who tweeted, “I saw myself: there are kids, families and adults in cages, cells, kennels—whatever you call them. No question.”
The increasingly ontological cast of the debate continued Monday morning. Steve Doocy of Fox and Friends, the president’s favorite show, echoed Pollak’s line, saying that children weren’t being held in cages, but that authorities had “built walls out of chain-link fences.” Meanwhile, CBS News’s Gayle King was reporting from the border, where she described “cages.” The Border Patrol, CBS reported, took issue with that description, not because they felt it was inaccurate, but because they were “very uncomfortable” with the implication that the children were being treated like animals.
The obvious counter to this is that being held in a cage with 20 other children and few comforts besides foil blankets is also very uncomfortable. But this is abuse of the language, too. Refusal to call a cage a cage merely because it makes someone uneasy—or, perhaps more importantly, because it is politically toxic—does not transform a cage into a “chain-link partition.”
Donald Trump didn’t dream all this up on his own. Yes, Stephen Miller formulated the draconian, “zero tolerance” policy but Miller learned much of what he knows from working as communications director for Jeff Sessions. The Trump Doctrine is “Fuck Obama” but the immigration policy change implemented in May is the outworking of the Sessions Doctrine. The Atlantic:
…behind the scenes, even as the president has agitated in public about firing his attorney general, Sessions is the true architect of much of what people believe to be Trump’s domestic-policy agenda. As implemented in recent decisions to curtail asylum grants, ramp up immigration enforcement, and dial back criminal-justice reform and voting-rights protections, this agenda is more than just the reversal of policies enacted during the Barack Obama era, which Trump promised during his campaign. Rather, from the Black Belt in Alabama in the 1980s to the farthest reaches of the border fence today, the Sessions Doctrine is the endgame of a long legal tradition of undermining minority civil rights.
The Sessions Doctrine has moved somewhat suddenly to the forefront of the national conversation in the wake of aggressive moves by the Justice Department against immigration. Sessions has recently pushed for changes in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the immigration-court system embedded within the DOJ. He’s considering ways to force judges to process more deportation cases, changes that several experts say will undoubtedly mean that fewer people receive due process or fair hearings.
The attorney general has also moved to firmly limit asylum grants, and last week announced that he could effectively eliminate the ability of immigrants who face domestic or gang violence back home to successfully apply for asylum. That decision risks sending more vulnerable women and targets of gang violence back to dangerous situations.
The GOP is falling right into line with what amounts to egregious human rights violations and a national disgrace playing out on the southern border. A few Republican senators, among them Susan Collins and Ben Sasse, have voiced their concerns but they have not yet signed Dianne Feinstein’s bill which would prevent splitting up families at the border. The New Yorker cites a recent report which states that approximately 11,500 migrant children have been separated from their parents and been incarcerated and by the end of August the figure could rise to 30,000.
The Republicans have no shame, so don’t count on a crisis of conscience to walk back this horrible policy. The Sword of Damocles, if there is one, is fear of November, and as the New York Post pointed out, Trump’s best option is to blame Sessions, which he has no problem doing, and reverse course, because “trying to tough this one out is guaranteed disaster.” We can only hope that is indeed the case. And if those children understood the situation, that is what they would be praying for huddled on mats under their aluminum blankets at night. This has ceased to be a partisan issue, this is about plain right v. wrong.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.