Yesterday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released a Policy Memorandum offering guidance for border officers in dealing with asylum cases, in accordance with Jeff Sessions’ ruling that domestic violence and gang violence will no longer constitute credible fears for asylum applications. The memo can be read here, the ruling here, and some news coverage here.
A couple of weeks ago, Sessions recounted some of the ugly crimes committed by MS-13 members while defending the family separation not-exactly-policy-but-definitely-not-law. Trump invokes them nearly every day to stoke the fires of his base and create straw-men for politicians and journalists. The problem with this tactic is that it shines a spotlight on the administration’s (a) lack of logical consistency and/or (b) blatant race-based hypocrisy. Trump and Sessions want to revel in the heinousness of the crimes in order to demonize the very people seeking asylum to escape those crimes.
Is the gang violence bad? Yes? Then asylum is a legitimate claim. Is asylum from gang violence legitimate? No? Then the violence must not be that bad. In case he is a more visual learner, I have created this helpful flowchart that Sessions might want to consult in order to understand that he cannot have it both ways.
By denying asylum to those fleeing gang violence, Sessions is telling us that Central American parents should just accept the fact that their children will either likely be recruited to commit such crimes or be killed in a manner he deems unacceptable – at least for (non-Central) Americans.
Frankly, the only framework in which Sessions’ argument is coherent is one that sees Central Americans as a virus to be subjected to quarantine until it dies out and children from these countries as less deserving of the protections we seek for kids in the United States; in other words, a racist framework. (Laura Bush wrote an op-ed comparing family separation and detention to FDR’s Japanese American internment camps during WWII.)
In other news:
- CLINIC and ASAP released a study on In Absentia removal of asylum seekers.
- Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, stated that the facilities for kids who have been taken from their parents by the government are "one of the great acts of American generosity and charity.”
- Paula White, Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” said:
“I think so many people have taken Biblical Scriptures out of context on this, to say stuff like, ‘Well, Jesus was a refugee.’ Yes, he did live in Egypt for three-and-a-half years. But it was not illegal. If he had broken the law, then he would have been sinful and he would not have been our Messiah.”
Setting aside the significant historical and theological problems with her statement, we are still left to ask: Is she suggesting that babies can be criminals? And is this part of her “spiritual advice” to Trump?
- And finally, ICYMI, Sessions doesn't mind joking about family separation:
Here's Attorney General Jeff Sessions making a joke today about separating families (to laughter and applause) pic.twitter.com/j38Oyhd313