A collection of opinionated commentaries on culture, politics and religion compiled predominantly from an American viewpoint but tempered by a global vision. My Armwood Opinion Youtube Channel @ YouTube I have a Jazz Blog @ Jazz
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"Immigration reform is long overdue, but it must be based on inclusion and humanity, not on cruel posturing.
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
A surge of migrants from Central America has overwhelmed the border management system. Nearly a million are expected to cross the southwestern border by the end of year. Most hope to apply for asylum, adding to a backlog already stretching back years.
From the earliest days of the Trump administration, the president has been clear that he intends to move forward with his long-promised wall in answer to the emergency at the border. On Friday, President Trump scored a victory when the Supreme Court allowed him to transfer $2.5 billion in government funds toward that effort, despite ongoing litigation to block it. The White House has remained committed to the wall even as the idea has lost public favor, driven the government’s longest partial shutdown and proven an ineffective deterrent to larger and larger waves of migrants coming to the United States.
Yet it should be in the DNA of the American people, the overwhelming majority of whom are themselves descendants of immigrants who found refuge, opportunity and happiness in the United States, to approach this crisis with humanity. There must be a way to house the migrants, accelerate the hearings and protect the border with respect for the dignity and rights of these desperate people.
And it should be a source of shame for all Americans that their president has attacked the problem with cruelty and disdain for law and human rights, attempting tactics that, one after another, have been blocked by legislators or courts, and all the while trumpeting lies to his followers that the migrants are gangsters, drug smugglers and job stealers.
Outrageous consequences of this approach appear with dismal regularity. The latest was the arrest and 23-day detention of an American-born United States citizen because officers at one of many checkpoints in South Texas didn’t believe that the documents he showed were real. Francisco Erwin Galicia, 18, said he had lost 26 pounds at the overcrowded immigrant detention center, where men slept on the floor and were not allowed showers. Mr. Galicia was released only after The Dallas Morning News learned and told his story.
There are valid reasons Customs and Border Protection agents might have wanted to take a closer look at Mr. Galicia’s documents. His brother and another passenger in the car in which he was stopped were undocumented immigrants, as is his mother, who used a false name on his birth certificate. These are the sad realities of the lives of people who lack legal status in the United States.
But his detention was hardly an isolated mistake — hundreds of American citizens have now been detained on suspicion that they are living illegally in the United States, including a man held in custody for 1,273 days. Mr. Galicia had sufficient proof of American citizenship to rate a far speedier investigation.
The entire system of checkpoints, detention centers and immigration agents hunting for Hispanics — along with all the horror of children penned in disgusting conditions and a cascade of immigration policies that violate fundamental rights — perverts American values and traditions. It is a victory for the xenophobic and racist vision promoted by President Trump’s far-right adviser Stephen Miller and exploited by Mr. Trump from the day he announced his candidacy.
Among their latest sallies was a rule announced this month that would deny asylum to anyone who had failed to apply for — and be denied — protections in at least one country they passed through on their way north. That means Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for asylum in Guatemala or Mexico before they could apply in the United States. Mexico has refused to go along with the scheme, but the White House said on Friday that Guatemala had agreed to a “safe third country” agreement, under which it would require migrants heading north to seek asylum there. Guatemala had balked at going along with the scheme until Mr. Trump threatened the country with tariffs, remittance fees and an unspecified “ban.”
The rule and arrangement could have effectively denied asylum to anyone coming to the United States by land other than Mexicans, who rarely seek it. The rule was temporarily blocked on Wednesday by a federal judge in San Francisco, who described it as “arbitrary and capricious.”
Another new measure, announced this week, would speed the deportation of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they’ve been in the United States for more than two years. The rule enables federal agents to arrest far more people without a hearing before a judge. The American Civil Liberties Union promptly said it would seek to block the rule in court.
And so it goes, a relentless assault on the right to asylum enshrined in international law — “ridiculous” and “insane,” says Mr. Trump — and elemental decency. In the administration’s view, most recently displayed by Mr. Miller in an appearance with Chris Wallace on Fox News, anyone who opposes the Trump policy on immigration exhibits a “deep-seated hatred of the nation as it exists” and doesn’t care “if American citizens lose their jobs, lose their homes, lose their livelihoods, lose their health coverage and lose their very lives.”
That accusation is not only false and offensive. It also omits any hint of sympathy for the people who undertake the perilous and uncertain trek north, usually to escape poverty and violence in Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. And it omits any optimism about the contribution that such determined immigrants are likely to make to the United States. Such people have always been essential to creating and sustaining America’s standing as a shining city upon a hill. A comprehensive immigration law is long overdue. It must be based on American tolerance and humanity and animated by an American vision of a better future.