Category Archives: Immigration and Refugees

Solutions not Stunts

 

President Joe Biden, early in his presidency, presented a comprehensive plan for immigration reform.  When he did that, he acknowledged the current system is broken. Everyone agrees it is broken, but how to fix?  Not so easy.

I think that is the right approach. But it must be bi-partisan. I don’t know if it is or not. But it is such a big problem both sides of the House must work together to fix it. Solutions must be real.  Not just stunts like sending asylum seekers to “Sanctuary Cities” in the north. Democrats should stop declaring them. They are unhelpful. And the entire country must pay the costs, not merely states on the border or states where all the asylum seekers and immigrants want to go. States and cities can’t afford to pay the costs. The federal government should pay the real cost.

Republicans claim Democrats want open borders. I don’t think that is true.  Obama was known as the Deporter-in-Chief. He just did not brag about it like Trump. But he deported a lot of people.

Frankly, I think most politicians, on both sides, don’t really want to deal with the problems. They prefer stunts, because they are much easier than the hard work of real reform and real solutions. It is much easier to get sound bites for stunts. Stunts and harangues seem attractive to the voters, so they get the politicians they deserve.

 

Better Thinking Needed on the Border

 

Around the breakfast table in our hotel in Salina Kansas, we watched the ubiquitous Fox News channel since it seemed to be permanently selected at every hotel in the American Midwest. We have found from our friends that winter in Arizona, this is the land of Trump. Trump believers are everywhere. As a result, we learned that there was massive illegal migration at the border. 300,000 people from around the world were trying to get into the US across the Mexican border. By no means were these only Mexicans. Particularly at the Rio Grande, where the US was unable to build a wall,” hordes of people,” according to Fox were trying to cross illegally. Fox does not acknowledge that some of these people have the legitimate right to make asylum claims.

We also learned from Fox that many of the illegals were using false ID papers to pose as minors so they could stay with their families. Fox always emphasizes that the “Illegal immigrants,” as they call them all, cannot be trusted and should be feared. Every time I watch Fox, they are filling Americans with fear about the “hordes” at the border. This is very effective at stoking the fears of Americas. In fact, every side in the immigration disputes arouses fear about the others. Every side in the debate—and there are many—pitches an implicit ideology. For example, that migrants are scary or that people who think borders should be controlled are racist bigots. Life is more complicated than that.

Fox also claimed that 700,000 illegal immigrants get full medical benefits to which ordinary American working people are not entitled. I have heard versions of this story many times.  Immigrants, illegal or not, immediately get more rights than Americans. I have also heard on CNN that this is not true. Where is the truth? Sometimes truth seems very illusive, particularly in heated debates. What is not in doubt however, is that such news fuels hate against immigrants.

This does not mean that we should reject all media. We need good journalism and there is lots of it out there, though, of course, there is also much fake news. That does not make everything fake news as Trump and his Trumpsters often suggest. It does mean that each of us must use our skills of critical thinking and judgment to weigh the evidence in favor of or opposed to these narratives. Fox also claimed that in many states immigrants, even illegal immigrants, get ‘instate tuition’ rates unlike most non-residents? Is that true? I don’t know.

Both Republican and Democrat administrations are to blame for the problems on the border, though, of course, each side blames the other. The Republicans have not wanted to spend any money to solve the problem. They don’t want to “waste” money on paying to adjudicate asylum claims at the border so they drag on interminably. The result is that asylum seekers often wait a decade to have their cases heard while they live in the US as undocumented visitors. During this time, they often create families, making immigration issues even more complicated.  At times, the Democrats would not pay any serious heed to controlling the border. Sometimes it seems ike they even welcome the true illegal immigrants at the border. Though Barack Obama, of all people, was known as the “Deporter-in-Chief, the position Trump longed for. Underfunding of border facilities has made it impossible to deal with the large numbers that have been appearing and help to present images that scare people in America.

Just like we must look critically at the miracle cures for a legion of ailments that are offered by Fox advertisers, we must look critically at claims they make about immigration, one of their favourite issues. Are there really that many miracle cures out there? Is it true that everyone who appears at the border is untrustworthy? All sides in important public issues such as immigration, must use critical thinking to weigh the evidence and arguments. As well we must not do what Trump says he does—i.e. trust his gut. The gut really doesn’t do much effective thinking. Neither do hunches, feelings, or guesses.

Better thinking is what we need to tackle all important social issues, and too often, that seems in very short supply.

Immigration: A Bloody Mess

As we drove towards the southern USA, Christiane and I frequently  listened to National Public Radio (NPR). One day weI listened to an interesting discussion on immigration. This is always a hot subject in American politics. It energizes a lot of people both on the left and the right.  Americans love to complain about what the other side is doing or failing to do on this issue. It is considered a major problem for the country but no one tries to fix it. Everyone wants to complain instead. That is much more fun. Added to that, both sides want to score political points by blaming the other side for the problem when really both sides are to blame. As a result, of course, nothing does get done. And the complaints continue to pile up. That makes for a wicked problem that seems impossible to solve.

Meanwhile asylum seekers in the US are told on arrival to the U.S. to contact the Department of Homeland Security. When they follow those instructions, they are told the Department will respond to them and they should wait. They should wait patiently. The asylum seekers typically have to wait between 4 and 5 years, for a response to their request for asylum. Only after that is an adjudication hearing held. Then, if the asylum claim is denied, the seeker can appeal the decision and this will likely result in another 5 years of delay. Meanwhile the asylum seekers have a decade to live in the country and become what Israeli’s call a fact on the ground. They are there. There is no denying this. Meanwhile those asylum seekers may hold jobs and have children while in the U.S. The children might become American citizens and can’t be separated from their parents.

Meanwhile how can the United States think of itself as a civilized country when it seems to be operating without honour?

What is the result? A bloody mess.

 

Moral Panics are seldom Useful

 

Jonathan Haidt is quick to admit that new forms of technology often spur quick reactions from adults that amount to moral panics about what awful things kids “these days” are doing.  In my youth it was television. Moral panics are seldom helpful. As Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times said,

“Adults have fretted about the damaging impacts of radio, comic books, television and even the music of Prince. That’s a reason to approach the evidence linking social media to mental health disorders with caution. But it’s not a reason to discount it. After all, unlike hysteria over rock music, concern about the psychological effects of social media is something many young people share. “Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said internal Facebook research leaked by the whistle-blower Frances Haugen in 2021. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.

 

As well, many liberals are quick to blame evil corporations for their children’s woes as conservatives are quick to blame perverted liberals grooming of kids, but this time there is convincing data that social media giants are to blame for the steep rise in serious mental illness among America’s youth.

What we really need to do is look at the evidence dispassionately. Follow the evidence.  Jonathan Haidt says he does that. Let’s look at some more.

 

The Mennonite Pharisee and the Polish Samaritan

 

Refugee crises are invariably wicked problems. Every country wants to control its own borders. No country just wants to open the gates completely wide. After all, what good would it do to let countries be completely swamped?  No one benefits when anarchy is spread everywhere.

On the other hand, most countries want to help, particularly their neighbours. But that is not always easy to do.

What we need is calm and compassionate consideration and temperate with rationality. That is not an easy task.

Turning our backs on the refugees is not the answer for most of us. Most of us don’t want to be Pharisees. We don’t want to turn our back on the poor soul mired in the mud or lying on the ground. But how can we help? Destroying our lives and those of our loved ones is also not the answer. What is the answer? The first thing that is sure, is the answer is not simple. Miriam Toews was right. Kindness is complicated.   As a result we will make mistakes.

 

Melissa Martin in her Winnipeg Free Press  article said she did not believe that the  way we deal with difficult refugee problems is inevitable. we must make choices. Yet Poland has shown to us what is possible if we work together. Big problems can be solved. Only with teamwork would it be possible for a small country to do what Poland has done in accepting 2.5 million refugees.

People on all sides tend to oversimplify problems and their solutions. As she said,

 

“News, often, has an unfortunate way of flattening places and events into a narrow focus without nuance, without texture. In one such narrative, Poland becomes all good; in another, its treatment of largely Muslim asylum-seekers caught on the border, it’s all bad.

 

The reality is, of course, is that it’s neither. Yes, it’s in Poland where a border dispute has forced people to suffer in limbo, but it’s also in Poland where activists and aid groups risk everything to get food and warm clothes to the people huddled at the Belarusian border. Some have been caught by police and taken before a judge; still, their brave and ferociously loving work continues.”

 

Poland has shown us clouds from both sides. They have shown us the best of people, but have also shown a dark side. I remember when my own Member of Parliament—presumably a good Mennonite—showed us what the Pharisees were like. When people from Central and South America were trying to enter Canada because they feared what Trump and his cronies would do to them, and fled here across a frozen Red River, he told us to fear these refugees and complained that our Prime Minister was opening the borders wide.  That was very different from the Poles that Martin described in her article. People living near the border sneaked into the woods to hang bundles of aid in the trees even though they were threatened by the police.  One of them told the New York Times, “no one will die in my forest.” There was the Good Samaritan—the good neighbour. My pious member of Parliament looked down on the hapless people freezing in the cold, and urged us to do the same.  on the other hand, Martin described how volunteers in Emerson in the winter of 2017 when there was an unprecedented wave of people walking across the border north into Canada from the US  tried to make sure no one froze to death. More good neighbours.

 

As Melissa Martin said,

“The bad in the world, and in people, speaks in cruelty and destruction. But if you want to see the good in people, you will find it in the same place, and from there you can see the foundations of bridges that are waiting to be built. The lesson of Poland’s refugee crisis — not two, but one — is that the good is ever-present, waiting for an invitation to happen.”

Each of us can choose to be a Pharisee or a Samaritan.  And we may have the chance to make that choice more than once. One time we can be a Samaritan and the next a Pharisee. It’s  all up to us.

 

The “Other” Refugee Crisis in Poland

 

The people of Poland have allowed 2,500,000 people from Ukraine to claim asylum or refugee status in the last couple of months. That is an astonishing moral achievement. But Poles are not perfect. Who among us is perfect?

We all know that in recent years waves of refugees have been crossing European borders from troubled lands. Poles were not always so generous with these refugee claimants. With them they were not so generous. Why was that?

First, the pressure is always greatest on the nearby countries.  For example, for Syrian refugees the greatest numbers have fled not to Germany, which  rightly who got a lot of credit for their heroic efforts. Lebanon and Turkey accepted the most refugees because they were close. This was not just out of humanitarian spirit, but that was not absent. The same goes for Poland. neighbours often have little choice. If they don’t help the neighbouring country, they will have a humanitarian crisis on its hands.

As Melissa Martin acknowledged in her insightful article for the Winnipeg Free Press:

“Still, there’s no question Ukrainian refugees have received a markedly warmer and less fraught embrace in Europe and North America than refugees from, for instance, Syria. Countries, including Canada, rushed to simplify entry requirements and open their doors to Ukrainians in ways many were reluctant, if not outright hostile, to do for others seeking safety.”

 

The refugee crisis from predominantly Muslim countries like Syria was treated very differently. The Muslims, unlike the Ukrainians were treated with suspicion. In fact, even worse, they were treated as “ammunition in political wars” as Martin called it. Starting in 2021 when Muslim refugees started surging across European borders to seek asylum in Europe, including from Belarus to Poland, Belarus used the people as hostages in their dispute with Europe.  As Martin reported:

“In May 2021, in response to proposed European Union sanctions on the country, Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko warned the EU that his nation would cease stopping “drugs and migrants” and allow the EU to “eat them and catch them yourselves.” Within months, Belarus state tourism had begun advertising in countries including Iraq.

People came, and they headed to the border. But once there, the asylum-seekers and migrants found themselves caught in a nightmare. Poland pushed them back, but Belarus wouldn’t let them stay, either. Humanitarian aid was denied, and asylum-seekers reported being beaten by Belarusian police. Poland and other countries accused Belarus of “hybrid warfare.”

Whatever the truth of this, Poland’s government was quick to go along with treating people like weapons, and then hid them from view. It enforced a three-kilometre exclusion zone against the border, into which journalists, doctors and humanitarian aid workers were forbidden to enter. It’s now building a border wall with Belarus, as is Lithuania.”

 

Some of the refugees found themselves living in the forest of Poland or Belarus in winter. That is about as much fun as spending the winter in Manitoba, living outdoors.

Even Melissa Martin, that bleeding heart liberal, admitted that the different response to Ukrainian refugees compared to Muslim refugees had at least a partly darker basis, namely, racism. As she said,

“There is no way to look at the responses and ignore the Islamophobia and racism that has animated the difference; we must name that to have any meaningful discussion about these issues.”

 

Hatred, just like kindness, is complicated. No, the Poles were not unmixed saints. No one is.

Some commentators have referred to this as Poland’s “other” refugee crisis. Martin preferred to say it is was all part of the same crisis and that is a world crisis. Both have their dark sides too. As she said,

“Refugees from Ukraine flee a war launched by Russia, an unprovoked invasion that has caused unimaginable destruction. At the border with Belarus, people come from Iraq, which was destabilized by the unprovoked 2003 American invasion and the ensuing civil war; and from Afghanistan, brutalized and toyed with for decades by more powerful nations.

They come from Yemen, where Canadian weapons sold to Saudi Arabia are among those wielded in a war that has killed more than 200,000 civilians and triggered mass starvation. And they come from Syria, where… well, we don’t have space to untangle all the forces that have combined to prosecute the sheer human trauma inflicted in that conflict.

In all of these events, the story in the broadest strokes is fundamentally the same: powerful forces unleash hell on a civilian population to shore up their own geopolitical aims. In all of these events, the wealthy stand to gain, and they convince their people to either support it or, at the very least, ignore their complicity in it. Those who suffer most have no say.

This is why the wildly divergent experiences of refugees in Poland must be seen together, and one shouldn’t be told without the other, because they form a coherent story about how human beings must exist in a world battered by the use and misuse of power, and also offer a crystal-clear contrast study in how such crises of humanity can be handled.”

 

Russia is to blame, but so is the United States, Canada, UK, Turkey and pretty near every powerful country in the world. I don’t have enough time in my life to search for the innocent country. We must all take a share of the responsibility to solve this crisis.

Everyone knows it will be difficult for the refugees in Poland. It is always difficult for refugees wherever they go. The refugees have a rough road ahead of them, yet most of them are very grateful for what they have received from countries like Poland and to a lesser, but significant extent, Canada.

Most of the refugees are women with children or old people. Refugees are invariably the most vulnerable people and often people try to take advantage of them. Refugees invariably want to go home as soon as possible, but some have to admit that is not likely to happen soon or at all, so they permanent asylum somewhere.

Notwithstanding that, Martin described what happened this way:

“But for now, at least, the breadth and depth and spirit of the Polish response will stand as one of the most remarkable our generation has witnessed. It was at times chaotic, sprouting in countless small efforts that grew into a messy sort of safety net; but it worked, and it saved lives, and it’s one of the most immediately beautiful things I have ever witnessed.”

It’s one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard of. Humans at their best. But not simple. It’s a complicated kindness.

 

Poles help with their Whole Hearts

 

As I mentioned yesterday , remarkable things are happening in Poland and Ukraine besides the devastation of war and few people seem to realize it. Ukrainians have been fleeing across the border to Poland who has been opening up their homes and hearts to their stricken brothers.

Frankly, it is one of the most incredible things ever! 2.5 million refugees have been allowed into the country.

 

This is how Winnipeg Free Press columnist, Melissa Martin, described what was happening in Poland as Polish refugees streamed across the border as if it did not exist:

 

“In Poland, Ukrainians have found an unparalleled welcome, one that sprung from the grassroots of the country with far less government intervention than one would expect. Every Ukrainian we meet speaks about this; each one tells a story about a Pole they met who offered them a place to stay, or bought their meal or, at least in one case, even paid for their contact lenses.”

 

 

Ukrainians have been showing the world what it means to be a Good Samaritan when it might be much easier and much safer to be a Pharisee. As Martin said, “Hostels, hotels, shopping malls, new apartments, old apartments, even ordinary citizens’ spare bedrooms became homes for Ukrainians to stay.”

 

One of the Ukrainian immigrants who was one his way to Pinawa Manitoba, of all places, told Martin this: “Polish people “help with their whole heart.”

 

Martin said she interviewed someone and asked if all this help had been managed or engineered by the Polish government. This is what she found:

 I wondered if any of this was self-conscious. Was there a sense that, with the war, Poland’s response was in the spotlight?

“I don’t think anyone thought about the world watching,” he said. “In a way, Poles were feeling proud of themselves, and proud of their country. It wasn’t a political issue. It didn’t matter who you supported. Everyone just understood ‘now we help.’ “In a weird way, there was almost a unification: ‘We agree on something. We help now.’ 

 

My favourite expression for that is fellow feeling. Or empathy.

Yet everyone must admit there is another refugee crisis that is far from over.  It involved different people and a different reaction, by other Europeans and by Poles as well. We must get the whole story. The rest of the story is not as attractive.  That is not to be expected, people are rarely saints. I will fill out the picture in my next post. Nobody is perfect; not even Poles.

We can choose to be Pharisees or Samaritans

 

I have just learned about a remarkable thing that has been happening in Poland. It is one of the most incredible stories I have ever of and it is happening at what I would have thought was a very unlikely place—Poland. After all, Poland is the place that recently did not earn must credit for its seesaw battle over getting rid of migrants in its fight with Belarus.  It has proven the truth of what Charles Dickens said  more than 200 years ago in the opening sentence of his marvelous book A Tale of Two Cities:

 

“It was the best of time, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

 

In other words, as Dickens and Miriam Toews both understood so well, kindness is complicated.

 

I have been obsessing about Putin and Ukraine. I admit it. I think it is one of the most important things that have happened in the 20th and 21st centuries.  I really believe we need to pay attention. One of the reasons is the rise of authoritarianism and fascism. In the last couple of years some criticized me because I obsessed about Trump.   The reason I focused so much attention on Trump and then Putin is because I believe the same contaminated sea has thrown up those two monsters.  We must pay attention or we may pay an awful price.

Yet, something remarkable has happened in Ukraine that few people are paying attention to and it is something wonderful.  That is not just the incredible courage of the Ukrainian people and their inspiring comedian of a leader. That other thing has happened in Poland.

Poland frankly has been flooded with Ukrainians. And I mean a deluge of Ukrainians.  More than a week ago Melissa Martin wrote an amazing article after the Winnipeg Free Press sent her to Ukraine and Poland.  This is what she wrote:

“Poland’s incredible embrace of its Ukrainian neighbours has shown the world a beautiful, generous heart; the mostly hidden, inhumane treatment of refugees at the border with Belarus reveals something very different.”

 

When she arrived in Poland, she intended to photograph everything she could see that reflected Poland’s solidarity with their Ukrainian neighbours.  She soon gave up. There was too much to photograph!

When Martin arrived she saw blue and white everywhere together with the following statement: jestesmy z wami” — we are with you.

And Poland really means it. Canada talks a lot and we do some good things.  We would do more if more politicians were like the Good Samaritan and less were like our own Ted Falk. Ted Falk, when he sees Canada is asked to help, quickly points to the dangers that he sees. I remember how he spread fear about those dangerous illegal immigrants on our southern border, some of whom froze trying to get  here.  Many of those dangers are absurd, but that is what Pharisees do. They look for reasons to do nothing to help and such reasons are always at hand.

Martin also described how on a road near Warsaw she saw a giant billboard that read in censored Ukrainian: “Putin, Go F—k Yourself.” That was what the brave Ukrainians on that little island said to the Russian Warship that demanded they surrender. These aren’t official efforts; some motivated citizen spent the money to erect them. The signs in Poland to that effect are unofficial. Not paid by any government. People just did it. That’s what Poles do—they just to it.

But all of this is a brief introduction to what Poles are just doing. Here is how Martin described it:

“So this is the visual backdrop to what is, on the ground, a staggering achievement in humanitarian assistance. By early April, more than four million Ukrainians had fled; most of them came through Poland, and 2.5 million stayed. In one of his speeches, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was as if there was no border between them.”

 

I am not a complete Pollyanna here. I know that is a lot of people for one country especially a country that is not among Europe’s richest. There will be problems with that many refugees. We know that. But imagine how Poland just did it. When Germany courageously under the leadership of Angela Merkel said Germany would take in 1,000,000 people many people rose up in fury. They were like the Pharisee not the Samaritan.  It is much easier to be a Pharisee than a Samaritan.

 But no matter how you look at it 2.5 million refugees is a lot of people. Poland is magnificent. Poland is a neighbour.

The Ungrateful Refugee

 

 

 

I listened to an interesting interview with Dina Nayeri the author of the book The Ungrateful Refugee. I have not read her book.  I hope to. She is a refugee from Iran who came to the United States at the age of 10 with her mother and a sister. Her father stayed behind and her mother supported the two girls on her own as  he rarely sent money to help.

She asked an important question: Just because she is a refugee who became a naturalized American citizen does that mean she has to give up the right to criticize her country? Other Americans are allowed to do that? Why not her?

Recently Donald Trump criticized 4 American Congress women of colour all of whom are  American citizens. In fact 3 of them were born in the US.  After he made comments suggesting that they go back to where they came from, he said what he really meant was that if they did not like it here they should go back. “If you re not happy here you can leave,” he said.  I suspect that many people agree with that. But are they right?

As Nayeri said, by such actions, Trump, and those who agree with him, are trying to separate immigrants from US born citizens. Lets call them native citizens. He is really saying these citizens who criticize their adopted country are second-class citizens. No one denies that native citizens have the right to criticize their country. Free speech is fundamental to being an American (or Canadian) citizen. Why not citizens who were born elsewhere?

We have to remember as well that the old refrain, “Go back to where you came,” is a common racist trope used since time immemorial as a way to tamp  down the immigrants, or refugees, or anyone who is “other,” or anyone who is unlike us. Particularly this has been used against people of a different color. It is a racist trope. Do we really want to endorse such?

When Nayeri escaped Iran with her mother and sister they fled first of all to Dubai, then to Italy, from where they became asylum seekers in the United States. Eventually they were allowed to get asylum in the United States and in time became American citizens. She was grateful for the help she got.

However, Nayeri was signaled as a very young child that she was different. She was an outsider. She did not belong there. Other kids called her mean names.

She reacted by trying to be the perfect immigrant. She had to be “the best refugee possible.”  She felt she had to over achieve in order to belong. As Nayeri said in an article in the Guardian, “We were never comfortable. We kept squirming inside our own skin, trying to find a way to be ourselves while satisfying all the people who wanted us to transform instantly into them.”

She responded to these pressures  by getting tough. She became a “kick ass” martial arts athlete.  It was hard. She had to put up with a lot. As she said, “I loved winning at a male sport. I was still angry about so many things – hijab, the Islamic Republic, the fat old church men who made high-school football players feel like gods while they shamed women who dared to want too much. I survived on egg whites and water-packed tuna doused in vinegar and mustard, salted baked potatoes and watery fruit.” In time she got straight A’s in school and became a national Tae Kwon Do competitor all in an effort to get accepted into Harvard University. She did not quite make it. But she got into another Ivy League school—Princeton. Not a bad second choice.

In my opinion any citizen should be free to criticize her country. After all that is the only way countries get better. They are never perfect. Even if we love them and love the way things are now, we should be able to criticize them and hope to improve them. No country is perfect. Every country should welcome criticism. Every country should welcome refugees and that means giving them the right to speak up.

Not an Immigration Crisis

 

Because it is well known that border stations are so filthy and unsanitary, children are not supposed to stay in them for more than 72 hours.  That is official American government policy. Yet, despite that, many children are staying there for a month or more.

Many of those crossing the border without permission do so with accompanying relatives  and then report to the border officials. They are then turned over to family detention centres. After that they are often separate from their kin, merely to put pressure on them to leave.  Many of these facilities are now run by private companies who do so, of course, to make a profit. Many of them are making huge profits. In some cases even non-profits companies are making huge profits. That is what happens wherever privatization happens.

It must also be remembered that 86% of these family claimants seeking asylum have families in the US that could take care of them. Yet many young children are nonetheless detained in these detention centres that some lawyers have called “worse than prisons.”        Many of the families cross the border with relatives and then promptly report to border officials as they are supposed to do.  Many of those border officials respond by separating the children from their relatives. Then they are effectively abandoned in border facilities that are not designed for children in the first place. Border patrol people know they are not set up to take these children.

All of this is the direct result of Trump administration policies designed to separate children from their families in order to put pressure on them to go back “home.’–a home that is often overrun by dangerous gangs encouraged by American policies of the past and present.

Customs and Border Patrol (‘CBP’) recently made a statement: “We completely agree with some of the reporting that has gone out in that unaccompanied young children should not be held in our custody. Our facilities are not designed for that.”

Things are so bad that local people have become embarrassed. Some of the locals have dropped off diapers, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, toys, and other things to help out the asylum seekers and restore a little of the reputation of America. These people are acting in the best spirit of America. They are the generous Americans that Marilynne Robinson believed were out there. Sadly, that generous spirit is not displayed by the President. For some reason some of the local people who wanted to help were turned away by CBP.

All of this is really mad. Many of the children of asylum seekers have homes to go to, but CBP does not let them go there. Instead they are poorly housed at the expense of American taxpayers many of whom seem to think this makes sense because they mistakenly believe they are keeping out illegal immigrants. People are wrongly conflating children in care with immigration. These people are seeking refuge/asylum. Many want to go home when it is safe to do so. Many will never seek to immigrate. They are not eligible to immigrate when they come. One would have thought Democrats and Republicans would get over the bickering and just help these desperate people out. These children should not be the responsibility of the government and the American taxpayers at all! Warren Binford an American civil rights lawyer and Professor of Law put it succinctly: “All we need to do is for the people to stop politicizing the children.” This is a child welfare issue and should not be part of the immigration debate at all. This is folly on steroids.

Really it is worse than that.  I think this points to the moral bankruptcy of the United States and the sterile polarization of American politics. And I don’t just mean the President. Everyone knows he is morally empty. But what about the American people? Millions of people continue to support him. Often these policies are fuelled by unacknowledged  racism.

Most of the very young children in family detention centres were with child mothers. Such mothers need support to care for their children. They don’t need harassment.  Yet sometimes those child mothers get sick and were quarantined and then given to other children as young as 7 or 8 years old. The BCP is unable to take care of all the infants in their custody so they asked 7 and 8 year old children to do it! Of course very few 7 or 8 year old children know much about taking care of infants. These children should be with their parents, not arbitrarily and irrationally separated from them in order to pressure their parents.

People around the world are seeing that moral emptiness in American and they are amazed and disgusted. This is not the America they admired.

Here are some comments from journalists who have been held as political prisoners around the world:

David Rhode of the New York Timeswho was held prisoner by the Taliban: “The Taliban gave me toothpaste and soap!”

James Regalan “I was given toothpaste and allowed to shower every couple of days.”

On the Christian Amanpour show,  Warren Binford reminded that “currently 1,000 children are in the these facilities in the US” This is a crisis she said and “its not an immigration crisis!”