With Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate looming, even his go-to of sticking it to immigrants when he’s having a bad day proves elusive.
Next to trying to benefit his personal fortune and bullying foreign governments into helping him win election, Trump’s biggest obsession is with finding as many ways as possible to abuse immigrants who are also people of color.
During the past three years you just knew that if something went wrong for Donald Trump, he’d take it out on immigrants, be it in the form of rolling out another barbaric policy designed by Stephen Miller or by smearing immigrants with lies as bad as or worse than the ones he tells about Democrats.
Fortunately, Trump’s second biggest obsession was dealt more blows in the courts.
A recent ruling took effect last week and it has the potential to be transformative. Immigration Court took the step of granting immigrants due process. It means the government can no longer hold immigrants in custody for indefinite periods of time. Also, it could open up other rights and protections for immigrants, whether they are in court or in custody.
The Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU, representing immigrants in the class action case, described the ruling by a Boston court.
The ruling holds that class members in New England are entitled to bond hearings at which the government bears the burden of justifying an immigrant’s detention, and at which the immigration court must consider someone’s ability to pay when setting a bond amount.
Even though Trump’s administration wishes to forget the fact that immigrants are human beings, the courts continue to remember they are – as reflected in the due process ruling and in another ruling that struck down Trump’s Executive Order that empowers states to decide if they wish to “allow” refugees to live in their state.
The ruling, in no uncertain terms, reminds the Trump administration of our obligations under the 1967 Refugee Protocol, which is codified in our Refugee Act of 1980.
These are, without question, positive developments. I’m thankful to the courts for ruling within the law and the lawyers who do the work of representing people who truly are forgotten when politics, economics or life in general get challenging. I’m not talking about the poor babies who whine about being forgotten when any government resource goes to someone else, or when policy benefits someone else. I’m talking about people who continue to live in subhuman conditions – every day. I’m talking about children who are traumatized, who get sick because of these subhuman conditions and who too often die while in our custody.
Even with the positive news of the aforementioned rulings and proof positive that 99% of asylum seekers attend their court hearings – thus debunking yet another of Trump’s anti-immigrant lies – life for immigrants remains harsh and sometimes in actual jeopardy.
Asylum seekers who make it to America are sent to Mexico, allegedly to await their proceedings. If that was the real reason, the Trump administration would not deport people who won their cases.
And the fact that this is happening tells us that this never was about upholding the law or about, as Trump expresses histrionically, about having borders. Coupled with the horrendous conditions at detention facilities, it becomes undeniably clear that cruelty is the point. It is more than just a hashtag on Twitter.
A recent article ties illnesses directly to the food immigrants are fed while in custody.
“Doctors treating migrants after their release from Border Patrol custody say that a disproportionate number of their patients feel ill after eating the food the federal agency gives them — namely, a certain packaged burrito.”
Dr. Timothy Dormer said at least one member of every family released by border control is ill as a result of eating “the burrito”. The problem is not with the food as such, but rather with not heating the burritos sufficiently. Burritos are simply distributed while still frozen and must be allowed to thaw out on their own before they can be eaten.
With the frequency of illnesses, as documented by doctors, it’s far from unreasonable to expect food be adequately prepared. And, according to the reporting, the facilities have long been aware of the problem since at least 2015.
When considered with the totality of Miller’s barbaric policies regarding the treatment of asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented immigrants, it’s difficult to ignore the possibility that the absence of food preparation is intentional.
Democrats continue to inquire about the deaths of migrants in our custody and Trump officials continue to dodge and weave. We remember Elijah Cummings chastising Trump officials who tried to justify putting children in cages.
On the fact that the inspector general has taken a year to investigate the deaths of Jakelin Maquin and Felipe Alonzo, Representative Xochitl Torres Small observed:
“Even more concerning, the OIG limited its investigation scope to only determine whether there was malfeasance by personnel and did not consider whether CBP’s policies and procedures are adequate to prevent migrant child deaths,” Torres Small said. “As I’ve said from the beginning, the reason for these investigations is not to punish people, it’s to keep this from happening again. It’s to make sure that we have the protocols in place in case we’re faced with this challenge again.”
It’s possible to have borders without putting kids in cages until they die from the unsanitary conditions. Countries do have borders while honoring rulings that determine an asylum seeker has a legitimate claim on which to remain in the country.
And while we may wish to look away, we mustn’t, because this is wrong. No human should be treated this way. The fact is, history tells us that abuse always starts with immigrants, but tyrants never end their abuse with immigrants.
It has happened all over the world and for decades. And a word to Mr. Miller, this president’s authority will be challenged, especially when it violates the spirit and intent of our laws. Thankfully, the courts know their highest authority is the law – not Donald Trump.
Ms. Woodbury has a graduate degree in political science, with a minor in law. She is a qualified expert on political theory with a specific interest in the nexus between political theories and models and human rights.
Based on her interest in human rights and the threats that authoritarian regimes are to them, Ms. Woodbury’s masters thesis examined the influence of politics on the enforcement of international criminal law was cited in several academic studies.
Published work includes case summaries for the War Crimes Research Office.
She has an extensive background doing legal research in international and domestic law.
Ms. Woodbury’s work for politicusUSA includes articles on voting rights, the right to asylum and other civil/human rights.