The young suf­fer most as Trump’s bor­der de­ba­cle con­tin­ues

The Saline Courier - - OPINION - ••• Don­ald Lam­bro has been cov­er­ing Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics for more than 50 years as a re­porter, edi­tor and com­men­ta­tor.

Pres­i­dent Trump was elected in 2016 on a prom­ise to clamp down on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion across our south­ern bor­der with Mex­ico.

But more than 2 1/2 years into his pres­i­dency, many more mi­grants are ar­riv­ing at our bor­der and liv­ing in de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties or else­where, await­ing im­mi­gra­tion court ac­tion on their refugee ap­pli­ca­tions.

In­stead of cur­tail­ing the flow at the bor­der dur­ing his pres­i­dency, there have been record num­bers of refugees from Cen­tral Amer­i­can coun­tries, in­clud­ing many chil­dren, seek­ing en­try into the U.S.

U.S. bor­der of­fi­cials said they de­tained over 144,000 mi­grants at the bor­der just last month, the high­est num­ber since 2006. Lately, how­ever, their num­bers have de­clined, as oth­ers have been turned back by the Mex­i­can mil­i­tary.

But Trump is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an­other prob­lem in his ef­forts to keep his cam­paign prom­ise on im­mi­gra­tion: a chaotic mess among the bu­reau­cra­cies re­spon­si­ble for bor­der en­force­ment.

One week after he an­nounced his in­tent to seek a sec­ond term, and promised to con­duct a se­ries of mass de­por­ta­tions, he re­placed his in­terim bor­der of­fi­cial with some­one The Wash­ing­ton Post de­scribed as “a ca­ble news pun­dit.”

Mark Mor­gan, a for­mer 20-year vet­eran of the FBI, and the first out­sider to lead the Bor­der Pa­trol Agency, was cho­sen by Trump to be­come the act­ing di­rec­tor of the U.S. Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment in early June.

Trump tapped him this week to be act­ing com­mis­sioner of Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, re­plac­ing John San­ders, in a con­tin­u­ing shakeup of the gov­ern­ment’s im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der se­cu­rity bu­reau­cracy.

“Since April, the pres­i­dent has purged nearly all of the top of­fi­cials re­main­ing at [the Depart­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity] from the be­gin­ning of his term, leav­ing ev­ery im­mi­gra­tion-re­lated U.S. agency with an in­terim leader,” the Post re­ported Wed­nes­day.

Mor­gan’s views on im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy ap­pear to be in lock­step with the pres­i­dent’s views. In Novem­ber 2016, he tes­ti­fied be­fore the

Se­nate Home­land Se­cu­rity and Govern­men­tal Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, say­ing, ‘I think (com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form) is def­i­nitely needed and we fully sup­port that.”

Later, clar­i­fy­ing his po­si­tion,

he is­sued a state­ment say­ing, “I want to be clear what my po­si­tion is re­gard­ing im­mi­gra­tion re­form. I do not, as some have sug­gested, sup­port what is of­ten re­ferred to as ‘blan­ket amnesty.’ This as­ser­tion could not be fur­ther from my po­si­tion.”

His re­marks trig­gered a re­buke, at the time, from the ex­ec­u­tive board of the Na­tional Bor­der Pa­trol Coun­cil for the web­site Bre­it­bart, say­ing Mor­gan was a “dis­grace” for ad­vo­cat­ing some sort of im­mi­gra­tion re­form.

Mean­time, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has yet an­other child abuse scan­dal on its hands, as hun­dreds of mi­grant chil­dren were be­ing held in filthy con­crete cells near the bor­der, ac­cord­ing to lawyers who vis­ited the fa­cil­i­ties.

Lawyers for the mi­grant chil­dren “de­scribed scenes of sick and dirty chil­dren with­out their par­ents and in­con­solable tod­dlers in the care of other chil­dren,” ac­cord­ing to a front-page story in Wed­nes­day’s Post.

“The al­leged con­di­tions raised the specter that masses of mi­grant chil­dren -- some still in in­fancy -- who had ar­rived un­ac­com­pa­nied or been separated from their rel­a­tives after cross­ing the bor­der are be­ing ex­posed to ad­di­tional trauma as they spend days or weeks in ille­quipped Bor­der Pa­trol sta­tions,” the lawyers told the Post.

“Of­fi­cials from U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion, which first takes the mi­grants into cus­tody, and from the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, which runs the mi­grant chil­dren’s shel­ters, char­ac­ter­ized the sit­u­a­tion as a dire hu­man­i­tar­ian cri­sis,” the news­pa­per re­ported.

This is the sec­ond time in more than a year that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been sharply crit­i­cized for the way its has failed to take proper care of young mi­grant chil­dren.

The first time this kind of story broke on the front pages of the na­tion’s news­pa­pers and in the nightly news, it was all part of the White House’s “zero tol­er­ance” re­sponse to fam­i­lies who fled hor­ri­ble con­di­tions in Cen­tral Amer­ica.

The House passed a $4.5 bil­lion emer­gency bor­der aid bill Wed­nes­day, and the Se­nate is ex­pected to do like­wise.

This is a time when Amer­ica steps for­ward to help those in des­per­ate need. The ad­min­is­tra­tion, it seems, doesn’t un­der­stand the mean­ing of the word “hu­man­i­tar­ian.”

DON­ALD LAM­BRO

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