America is better than Trump's cruel immigration policies

America is better than Trump’s cruel immigration policies


Originally published by The Hill

The Trump administration’s new immigration policy of forcibly separating children from their parents when they show up at the border without documents is not only inhumane and un-American, but it also betrays President Trump’s complete ignorance of current immigration laws, the immigration issue and the naked political motive behind such a draconian and unprecedented move.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the country the administration would start systematically separating children from their parents at the border, no matter if they came seeking asylum from certain death in their home countries.

Sessions, however, erroneously couches the new policy in terms of it being a deterrent for those who seek to smuggle their children over the border. He said, “If you don’t like that then don’t smuggle children over our border.”


What Sessions is not telling the American people is that he is now arresting and separating every child and parent that appears at the border, even those who come legally by turning themselves in to the authorities, seeking asylum.

These families are not “smuggling” their children over the border. They are availing themselves of an incredibly humanitarian American value — being able to seek protection from violence and persecution in another country.

Make no mistake: This new policy is vicious, brutal and is nothing less than Trump administration-endorsed, U.S. government-sanctioned child abuse.

Yet, those who are pushing it seem cold-hearted and callous as to its effects on the families and the children. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly nonchalantly said that this policy is not cruel because the children “will be put into foster care or whatever.””

As a mother, an immigrant and a naturalized American citizen who knows firsthand the hardships that exist in many of the countries these families are fleeing from, I am appalled, enraged and ashamed.

I am appalled that this is what we have come to in this great country — ripping children away from their mothers as they seek asylum, in the hopes they will have a chance to offer their children a life without violence and death-threats.

I am enraged at the thought of a mother having to endure her child being forcibly taken from her and not knowing when and if she will see her child again, not knowing who is taking care of them, nor what will become of them.

I am also ashamed at what this dreadful policy says about what this great country is becoming under the misguided, nationalistic, anti-immigrant leadership of Donald Trump.

We are no longer the "shining city upon a hill" heralded by Republican President Ronald Reagan. We have become a pseudo-police state that is endorsing the criminalization of a mother’s instinct to protect her children in the face of unrelenting danger.

President Trump’s tweet referencing his own horrid new policy threatens to normalize his lies and misstatements and seeks to shroud his tragic misunderstanding of immigration writ-large. Contrary to the president’s untruthful tweet, the Democrats had nothing to do with this new policy.

We all know the reality is not to only “deter” the smuggling of children. The hope is to minimize immigration to this country — both illegal and legal — especially from countries toward which we already know how Trump feels.

It is definitely not a long-term solution. Though the effect has been catastrophic for the families involved — almost 658 children have been taken from their parents since the policy went into effect on May 7 — it will not keep mothers and fathers from trying to seek a better, safer life for their children.

This is what Trump and this administration do not understand about immigration. A draconian policy, a sky-high wall or any other “solution” that does not account for the roots of the problem will not solve it. Show me a 30-foot wall, I will show you a 35-foot ladder.

We need to face the complicated issue of immigration with sobriety, a keen understanding of current laws, history, economics, labor flows, supply and demand, demographics and what has actually made America great — its immigrant roots and its welcoming philosophy.

Trump will never solve this problem if he only sees it as a mechanism to rile up his anti-immigrant base as we head into the midterm elections, where he knows Republicans and his legacy are in trouble.

Trump will never solve this problem if he only sees it as click bait for his 50 million-plus Twitter followers. He will never solve this problem, because he doesn’t understand it and doesn’t really care to solve it.

My guess is that voters will start to solve this problem at the ballot box in November as well as in 2020. Republicans are already anxious about an immigration backlash because of Trump’s anti-immigrant approach.

That is why you are seeing GOP members in Congress committing the ultimate transgression and going around their Republican leadership to force a vote on DACA that would pass with majority Democratic votes.

America is better than Trump’s cruel immigration policies. And Americans want a president that understands, cares about and reflects true American values through issues as important as immigration. That is not what we currently have in the Oval Office.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

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