It was clear from the start that the policy was cruel, heartless, and unnecessary. Although there has been a spike in the number of asylum seekers in recent months, the over-all number of undocumented immigrants coming into the United States from Mexico and other Latin American countries is significantly lower than it was a decade ago. There is no “crisis” at the southern border, except the humanitarian one of Trump’s own making. Trump’s picture of the United States being swamped—or, in his words, “infested”—by Latino migrants is a fantasy that he concocted to whip up the racial fears and antipathies of his core supporters.
.. Clearly, Trump didn’t make this U-turn because he had grown tired of fear-mongering and racial incitement, or because he had experienced a crisis of conscience.
.. He reversed course because he had no choice politically. Although he often adopts the rhetoric and body language of an authoritarian strongman, he’s an elected politician. And in the face of mass outrage, bipartisan opposition, and condemnation from church groups and other civil-society institutions, the child-separation policy was no longer sustainable.
.. If Trump gets his way, families stopped at the border will now be detained indefinitely under the custody of ice.
.. the Department of Health & Human Services .. won’t make any special efforts to reunite the families that have already been split up, and that the separated children will be dealt with under the same processes that have been in effect since May.
.. At most, this was a very partial U-turn.
.. Trump only went this far because he was facing a public-relations disaster and a rebellion from Republicans fearful of losing control of Congress in the midterms.
.. Mitch McConnell, until now Trump’s faithful enabler on Capitol Hill, stated publicly that he and his fellow Republican Senators were in agreement that the child-separation policy “needs to be fixed.” On Wednesday morning, Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, said that on Thursday the lower chamber would “vote on legislation to keep families together.”
.. In the past year and a half, congressional Republicans have demonstrated that there is little they won’t do to abase themselves before Trump, if it means getting the policy results they desire. But even usually gutless pro-Trump Republicans weren’t willing to enter a campaign season defending a policy of tearing infants from their parents and keeping them detained in tents and metal cages.
.. white, non-college-educated white women, a key voting group for the G.O.P., were opposed to the policy by the whopping margin of fifty-six per cent to thirty per cent.
.. we still have to maintain toughness, or our country will be overrun by people, by crime, by all of the things that we don’t stand for, that we don’t want.”.. indicated that he intends to stick with his campaign theme of targeting undocumented immigrants, and depicting them as base creatures who could “infest” the United States.
President Trump, in concert with several European leaders, including those of Hungary, Poland, Austria and Italy, is intent on dehumanizing immigrants and refugees. The aim is to equate them with terrorists and criminals ready to “infest” — Trump’s word — American and European civilization, defined as a threatened white Judeo-Christian preserve.
It’s a consistent policy buttressed by insinuation and lies about the supposed threat, and designed to manipulate fear and nationalism as election-winning emotions in a time of rapid technological change, large migrant flows and uncertainty. Vermin infest, not humans.
Every utterance of Trump on immigration is meant to conflate immigration with danger. This is a direct repudiation of America’s distinguishing essence — its constant reinvention through immigrant churn.
The immigrant brings violence. The immigrant brings terror. The immigrant’s humanity is lesser or nonexistent. These are tropes about “the other” whose capacity to galvanize mobs, and wreak havoc, was proved in the first half of the 20th century. Trump does not hesitate to use them.
.. Viktor Orban, the right-wing Hungarian leader, who has said that “every single migrant poses a public security and terror risk.”
.. The Hungarian parliament has just passed legislation that would throw people in jail for providing assistance to asylum seekers and migrants.
.. Matteo Salvini, the rightist Italian interior minister
.. Before taking office, he said Italy was packed with “drug dealers, rapists, burglars,” whom he wants to send home.
.. the destabilizing impact of globalization on Western democracies; stagnant middle-income wages; growing inequality; fear of an automated future
.. the ease of mob mobilization through fear-mongering and scapegoating on social media.
.. Trump is strong because of a global nationalist lurch; that his feral instincts make him dangerous; and that he may well win a second term, just as Orban has now won four terms.
To ridicule Trump will achieve little absent a compelling social and economic alternative that addresses anxiety. The Democratic Party, for now, is nowhere near that.
.. Trump likes to go for the jugular. He sees opportunity in a Europe that is split down the middle between nations like Hungary and Poland that make no attempt to sugarcoat their anti-immigrant nativism and states like Germany that have not forgotten that the pursuit of racially and religiously homogeneous societies lay at the core of the most heinous crimes of the last century.
.. Orban is the most formidable politician in Europe today. It’s no coincidence that Trump called him last weekend. Their aims overlap.
.. Trump tweeted this week that “Crime in Germany is way up” and that allowing immigrants in “all over Europe” has “strongly and violently changed their culture.”
.. Trump (whose stats on German crime were wrong) backs Orban against Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in the continuing bid to make racism and xenophobia the new normal of Western societies.
.. the greatest danger is within. A two-term Trump presidency would likely corrode American institutions and values to the point at which they could scarcely be resurrected.
“They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13,” he wrote, referencing a violent criminal gang based in Central America.
Critics of Trump’s language argued that it was dehumanizing to use a term traditionally used for pests.
.. “Infest.” Trump’s dehumanizing language continues—as it always does—by lumping nonviolent illegal immigrants in with violent gangs... Using words like”pour into” and “infest’ are dehumanizing tactics repeatedly used in history to smear immigrants & refugees, all in attempts to rob them of their humanity. Language matters... Trump’s statement that immigrants will “infest our Country” probably sounds better in the original German... Just a complete fabrication.
And notice that he continues to use words for animals and rodents like “infest” to describe people.
This word was often used in Rwanda during genocide, comparing people to roaches... “Infest” is language used in Nazi propaganda to describe the “infestation” of Jews in Germany, who were compared to rats. Here’s the President of the United States saying illegal immigrants “infest” our country. Keep telling me those Nazi comparisons are unfair... “Infest”
Yeah, he was taken out of context when he called immigrants “animals.” Excellent take there.
Separate but equal” is a segregation-era term — one that most Americans are trying to put behind them, not delightedly apply to the armed forces.
.. Another Trump administration favorite is “law and order,” a holdover from Richard M. Nixon’s 1968 campaign. Candidate Trump reclaimed it in 2016 and has been repeating the term ever since. It’s not about actual law and order, of course (otherwise, something would have to be done about the array of grifters and criminals parading through the White House and Cabinet), but about creating a perception of growing crisis. The purpose of the term is to spawn nightmares of violence and criminality, controllable only from the top down. And it’s best applied in a racialized manner —
- to “illegals,”
- immigrant “animals” and
- purveyors of inner-city “American carnage.”
.. Which brings us to “America First,” the phrase that rolls off Trump’s tongue — and Twitter feed — with a gleefulness that belies its distasteful history. That particular slogan rose to prominence around 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson used the phrase to defend American neutrality in World War I. Its nativist undertones lent it credibility as a Ku Klux Klan slogan, and, grounded in nationalism and xenophobia, the phrase was again famously deployed by anti-Semite Charles Lindbergh to advocate for keeping America out of World War II.
.. What Trump’s go-to word associations have noticeably in common is that they are all phrases of division, plucked from the uglier chapters of the past century of American history. They are racialized. And they are used to stoke a fear of the other while promoting self-serving — Trump-serving — ways of quashing dissent and asserting authority.
.. Just a day after using “separate but equal,” Trump branched out to using shameful episodes in other countries’ recent histories to supply the vocabulary for his spur-of-the-moment public statements. In a tweet Tuesday morning, he attempted to lay the family separation policy at the feet of Democrats, saying that “they don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13.” An outside population “infesting” a nation, like vermin. Where have we heard that before?
.. Trump’s flights of language are bizarre but not entirely accidental. This Space Force announcement should remind us that even when our administration talks about the future, we should beware attempts to pull us back into the past.