Wednesday brought good tidings to those whose conception of an ideal society doesn’t include refugee children locked in cages.
President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order that ends the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border.
“We’re going to have strong, very strong borders but we are going to keep the families together,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
The order said that officials will continue to criminally prosecute everyone who crosses the border illegally, but will seek to find or build facilities that can hold families — parents and children together — instead of separating them while their legal cases are considered by the courts.
Mr. Trump’s executive order directed the government’s lawyers to ask for a modification of an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that currently prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days.
While I’ve been disheartened about the state of resistance to Trump’s more monstrous policies in recent months, I find a modicum of reassurance that most citizens still draw the line at sending minors to concentration camps. Grassroots activism, specifically raising a ruckus at Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities, appears to have been the spark that finally set widespread public outrage ablaze.
But what did we win, exactly? It’d be nice to think we achieved a lasting victory against The Bad Men. Available evidence leads us to a different conclusion. If Trump’s new executive order manages to circumvent the Flores settlement, these children will still be imprisoned. Indefinitely. To put it more crudely: the family that’s caged together, stays together.
Nor are there immediate plans to reunite many of the families.
[A] Health and Human Services official said that more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s “zero tolerance” policy will not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings.
“There will not be a grandfathering of existing cases,” said Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the Administration for Children and Families, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Wolfe said the decision about the children was made by the White House, but he added, “I can tell you definitively that is going to be policy.”
This is not a victory for democracy. It’s not just that ICE executed unconscionable orders from the West Wing. ICE, in tactics and in function, is antithetical to a free and open society. They were heinous under Bush and Obama, and under the new regime they’ve been retooled to be even more heinous. The words of ICE director Thomas Homan – who’s just one vowel off from being human – give us a fuller understanding of his organization’s mindset.
The acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Monday that comparing ICE agents to Nazis is unfair, because “they’re simply enforcing laws enacted by Congress”.
Thomas Homan employed the “Nuremberg defense” – used by German Nazi officials in an attempt to escape accountability with the claim they were merely following orders.
Congress didn’t enact a law legitimizing “family segregation”; Jeff Sessions enacted the “zero-tolerance policy” in April at the behest of Donald Trump. From his first days in office, Trump and his most unhinged advisers have signaled that they intend to revanche white political and cultural domination through every mechanism at their disposal. The travel ban, Trump’s Charlottesville prevarication and family segregation are the best known efforts to advance the agenda, but also the clumsiest. And though it was (almost) shocking that the president was willing to use kidnapped children as a bargaining chip for his wall, his administration has taken equally insidious but more occluded steps in this direction. One recent example: the administration is scanning naturalized citizens’ old fingerprints to find any excuse they can to denaturalize them. The people who our government may render stateless number in the thousands. If past is prologue, Trump’s government will continue to transgress human rights and fundamental decency, each time testing the public for signs of complacency.
ICE serves as the shock troops for a colder, darker America.
How are you celebrating Loyalty Day?
This longstanding holiday (first established AM 5777 on the Hebrew Calendar or 1438 AH by the Islamic Calendar’s reckoning) is second only to the Fourth of July in terms of days so goddamn patriotic that they make red-blooded American eagles cry tears of pride.
I, for one, will honor the selfless sacrifices of TROOPS by re-swearing my loyalty oath to America’s strongest, smartest, handsomest, most winningiest leader in this or any other year, Donald J. Trump.
Next, I’ll gather up all the neighborhood children whose parents haven’t taken out restraining orders against me and let them shoot my semi-automatic rifles. The best marksmen will be awarded Junior NRA badges.
The kiddos will swear loyalty oaths to God Emperor Trump with the promise of cookies to follow.
No Loyalty Day is complete without a brief but spirited confrontation with the un-American black-clad scum that celebrates May Day. My preferred method is go downtown, thwack commies in the head with a flag pole and hoof it before I can be arrested.
Finally, my friends and I will gather at the traditional alter in my backyard to recite the pledge of allegiance to pictures of Benevolent Leader Donald, Papa Joe McCarthy and Supreme Gunsmith Wayne LaPierre.
We’ll spend the rest of the evening barbecueing, guzzling domestic beers and singing songs of freedom. It’s days like this that fill me with a sense of accomplishment for being born within the borders of the U.S. of A.
Do you celebrate Loyalty Day in a slightly different but still indescribably patriotic way? Let us know! Share your Loyalty Day tips and recipes in the comments!
It’s nearly impossible to hold onto perspective.
Donald Trump — the painfully sub-sub-par, hate-filled, resentful cretin who has the uncanny ability to make one month feel like a thousand days — has coated perspective in a obscenely thick layer of Crisco. The harder we try to grasp it, the more likely it is to jet out of our hands.
Our institutions have failed us, and we in turn have failed ourselves.
One supposes that the full trappings of power can make a thing sound reasonable, that if something unpalatable is rolled out in stages, the citizenry takes that time to accept the revised status quo. And if one supposes that, they suppose right.
Let’s not lionize ourselves here – we’ve allowed it to happen. We’ve accepted revisions the status quo, told ourselves that’s how things are now.
The prevailing narrative about resistance has been so much wind. Non-violent protest, bereft of the menace of force, is reliant on symbolism to do its heavy lifting. Here we are, it says. Here is a mass of our bodies, united in purpose. We who deviate are not alone. But what happens when the immediacy of the shock fades, when the threatened uprising fails to substantially materialize?
By degrees, we adjust to the new reality. We don’t like it, but we object to it the same way we object to payroll taxes and traffic. The window of possibility contracts, and we turn our focus from the heart of the problem to its outer edges. We strategize on how to make an unpleasant situation more bearable.
The resistance has become the acceptance.
For most of Barack Obama’s second term, referencing the “government shutdown” would present no difficulties of listener comprehension. It was a one-time closure of the everyday functioning of the federal government triggered by intransigent Republicans for spurious philosophical reasons. It was, in fact, The Shutdown, deserving of its definite article.
Shutdowns in the Trump era are destined to be multitudinous. They are in their brevity less like a full power outage and more like a brownout. A light flickers as Rand Paul takes a “principled moral stand” before service resumes, then our shambolic government lurches forward.
As Whiteside put it, we’re just glad Rand’s found a hobby.
If Timothy Snyder’s contention that we had a year to stem the tide of authoritarianism is true, that opportunity has lapsed. What’s important to remember, though, is that however well-informed a history professor who specializes in tyrants and totalitarianism is, like all of us he can only guess at what the future holds. His guess just happens to be educated.
Ineluctably, we have entered Year One of a disorienting epoch. Our faith in institutions has eroded, as they have been made to erode. Once-hidden prejudices are voiced with impugnity. From bad to worse to what the fuck, we can’t predict the future, but we too can hazard a guess at where things are headed.
It’s going to be another long year.