The new tar­get of Trump’s anti-im­mi­grant cru­elty

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

How long will it be un­til Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump claims Hur­ri­cane Do­rian was ac­tu­ally a plot by crim­i­nals in the Ba­hamas to in­fil­trate the United States? He’s not far from that now, hav­ing sug­gested that “very bad peo­ple” were trav­el­ing to the hur­ri­cane-rav­aged nation as a means to gain­ing en­try into the United States. Se­ri­ously, this is what he said on Mon­day in re­sponse to re­ports that a ferry op­er­a­tor kicked off a group of Ba­hamian refugees who lacked visas to en­ter the U.S.:

“Ev­ery­body needs to­tally proper doc­u­men­ta­tion. Be­cause, look, the Ba­hamas had some tremen­dous prob­lems with peo­ple go­ing to the Ba­hamas that weren’t sup­posed to be there,” he told re­porters. “I don’t want to al­low peo­ple that weren’t sup­posed to be in the Ba­hamas to come into the United States — in­clud­ing some very bad peo­ple and very bad gang mem­bers.”

He said this about Ba­hami­ans who’ve suf­fered tragic losses and as the nation headed into the 18th an­niver­sary of the Sept. 11th at­tacks from some ac­tual “very bad peo­ple” — peo­ple he ear­lier in­vited to meet at Camp David on Sun­day be­fore can­cel­ing the event at the last minute.

Hours be­fore he made his com­ments, Mr. Trump’s own head of Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, Mark Mor­gan, had said that Ba­hami­ans would be al­lowed into the United States whether they had doc­u­ments or not and that they would be processed and vet­ted by his agency as quickly as pos­si­ble. In any other ad­min­is­tra­tion, that would have gone with­out say­ing. We would have rec­og­nized a moral im­per­a­tive to help peo­ple threat­ened by a mas­sive hu­man­i­tar­ian dis­as­ter 50 miles off the Florida coast. Florida’s two Repub­li­can se­na­tors, Marco Ru­bio and Rick Scott, along with many other law­mak­ers from both par­ties, are urg­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion to loosen visa re­stric­tions fur­ther to ad­dress the cri­sis.

But Pres­i­dent Trump’s ha­tred for im­mi­grants is undi­min­ished by any man­ner of suf­fer­ing they may have en­dured in their home coun­tries. To­day, the ad­min­is­tra­tion is sched­uled to meet to dis­cuss fur­ther re­duc­tions in the limit on the num­ber of refugees it al­lows into the United States. For two years, Mr. Trump and his anti-im­mi­grant id, Stephen Miller, have been push­ing the num­ber ever down­ward even as the num­ber of peo­ple world­wide flee­ing war and famine rises to his­toric pro­por­tions. The cur­rent level, 30,000 peo­ple, is down about 70% from what it was un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, and now the de­bate is over whether to cut it by half or more again or per­haps set the limit all the way to zero with the op­tion for the pres­i­dent to al­low some refugees in at his dis­cre­tion.

Not only would such a cut com­pletely ab­di­cate Amer­ica’s role as a protector of the vul­ner­a­ble and leave open the world’s moral lead­er­ship to other na­tions, it would also put our na­tional se­cu­rity at risk. That’s the ar­gu­ment for­mer De­fense Sec­re­tary James Mat­tis made when the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion con­sid­ered such cuts pre­vi­ously. A strong refugee re­set­tle­ment pro­gram is nec­es­sary, he and other cur­rent and for­mer U.S. mil­i­tary lead­ers have ar­gued, to main­tain strong re­la­tions with al­lies and to pro­tect those who put them­selves in harm’s way by help­ing Amer­i­can troops in dan­ger zones like Iraq and Afghanista­n. Two dozen for­mer gen­er­als and ad­mi­rals wrote to the White House this month to ar­gue that cut­ting the refugee pro­gram so dras­ti­cally will only make U.S. mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion abroad more likely.

“When Amer­ica turns its back on refugees, we are chal­lenged to call on our al­lies to ac­cept them, ul­ti­mately risk­ing pre­ma­ture re­turns, like those of Syr­i­ans back to an un­sta­ble Syria, So­ma­lis back to an un­sta­ble So­ma­lia and Afghans back to an un­sta­ble Afghanista­n,” they wrote. “Such pre­ma­ture re­turns not only put refugees in harm’s way, they also fur­ther cy­cles of in­sta­bil­ity and in­se­cu­rity in crit­i­cal re­gions, in­creas­ing pres­sure on mil­i­tary ac­tion.”

But whether it is refugees from war-torn na­tions across the globe, mi­grants seek­ing to es­cape gang vi­o­lence in Cen­tral Amer­ica or Ba­hami­ans whose en­tire com­mu­ni­ties were just wiped out by Do­rian, Pres­i­dent Trump is blind to our na­tional in­ter­est, our his­tor­i­cal com­mit­ments or even our ba­sic hu­man de­cency. All he sees are crim­i­nals and ter­ror­ists among the in­no­cent, and po­ten­tial al­lies among our his­tor­i­cal enemies (see the Tal­iban and Trump bestie, Vladimir Putin). He said it when he launched his cam­paign four years ago with the ac­cu­sa­tion that Mex­ico was “send­ing” crim­i­nals and rapists across our bor­der. He said it when he claimed “un­known Mid­dle East­ern­ers” had in­fil­trated a caravan of mi­grants from Hon­duras headed to­ward the U.S. bor­der. And he said it again this week when he claimed un­known crim­i­nals and gang mem­bers were us­ing the chaos and dev­as­ta­tion in the Ba­hamas to slip into the U.S. His xeno­pho­bia is patho­log­i­cal, and this week, when we should be fo­cused on hon­or­ing those killed on Sept. 11 and im­prov­ing our world re­la­tions, he has re­minded us that it is pro­foundly cruel.

BREN­DAN SMIALOWSKI/GETTY

Refugees of Hur­ri­cane Do­rian ar­rive in Nassau. The fi­nal death toll from Hur­ri­cane Do­rian in the Ba­hamas could be “stag­ger­ing,” a govern­ment min­is­ter has said.

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