Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 | 2 a.m.
President Donald Trump may have signed an order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border, but news from the White House in recent weeks shows there’s been no letup in his administration’s war on immigrants and other xenophobic actions.
Among the revelations:
• The administration proposed new rules that would allow authorities to detain immigrant children past the current 20-day limit. The proposal would do away with a 1997 court ruling that established the time limit along with standards for facilities in which children are detained. The new rules are subject to a 60-day public comment period and an additional 45-day period in which legal challenges can be filed. If adopted, however, they would allow children to be detained for the duration of their families’ immigration proceedings — indefinitely, in other words. The American Psychological Association reacted by noting that migrant children’s mental and physical health would be placed at risk by longer detention periods. “Holding children — even with their parents — in these federal facilities for longer than the 20 days allowed by current law is unacceptable ... Furthermore, the longer the detention period, the greater the risk of depression and other mental health symptoms,” APA president Jessica Henderson Daniel said in a statement.
• The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that the department falsely claimed there was a central database it was using to keep track of separated children to help reunite them with their parents. The inspector general, John Kelly, also found Customs and Border Patrol detained hundreds of children in short-term facilities for longer than permitted and provided false information to parents. “DHS was not fully prepared to implement the administration’s zero-tolerance policy or to deal with some of its after-effects,” Kelly wrote.
• The administration has begun denying visas to the same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats and United Nations employees. The U.S. had been granting visas to those individuals since 2009, but visas will now be offered only to partners in married couples. Further, the new policy requires that partners of foreign diplomats and U.N. officials posted in the U.S. must show proof of marriage by Dec. 31 or must leave the country. It’s worth noting that the 2009 policy applied only to same-sex partners and did not allow heterosexual domestic partners to obtain visas, and the new rule applies to all partners. However, it presents a danger to couples from nations where same-sex marriage and homosexuality is illegal, as those couples could be exposed to prosecution in their home countries by getting married in the U.S. — and thereby establishing a public record of their relationship. In a tweet describing the new policy as “needlessly cruel and bigoted,” a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, noted that only 12 percent of U.N. member states allow same-sex marriage.
• The Financial Times reported that Trump’s team nearly persuaded him to issue a ban on all Chinese students from studying in the U.S. The idea reportedly came from extremist adviser Stephen Miller based on concerns over espionage and a belief that the ban would hurt elite U.S. universities that have been hotbeds of criticism aimed at Trump. The Financial Times’ story followed other reports last month that Trump ranted to a group of CEOs in a closed-door meeting that “almost every student that comes over to this country (from China) is a spy.”
Amid the nonstop news coverage of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, items like these may not have found their way onto Americans’ radar screens.
But they’re just as alarming as the situation that played out over Kavanaugh.
This is an administration that continues to erode American values of decency, charity and fellowship by demonstrating hatred toward nonwhite immigrants, refugees and visitors from other nations.
Trump’s actions toward people of color are not only morally reprehensible to those individuals, they’re a threat to the well-being of U.S. citizens and documented residents.
Let’s be clear: Immigrants and foreign visitors are part of our nation’s lifeblood. They bring fresh ideas and perspectives that allow us to continue to innovate in business, science and technology, arts and culture, and many other areas. As much as Trump would have us believe that they pose security risks and are violent, that’s categorically not true for the vast, vast majority.
With the midterm elections less than a month away, all of this is important to remember as voters decide whether to leave Trump with majorities in both chambers of Congress or elect Democrats who can provide a meaningful check to his destructive policies.
Trump won’t slow down in attacking immigrants until he’s forced to.