https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/19/opin ... pe=ArticleOpinion
Donald Trump’s Small Hostages
By Frank Bruni
Why don’t we call the terrified children whose incarceration is riveting the country what they are at this point?
Not migrants. Not detainees. Not pawns, although that comes closest to the mark.
President Trump is using them as flesh-and-blood bargaining chips, hoping that their ordeal and reasonable Americans’ disgust with it will get him what he wants. This isn’t some theory that I’m basing on the whisperings of unnamed administration officials whose candor the president can dismiss as fake news put out by a maleficent media. It’s the only conclusion reachable from his and his lieutenants’ own words.
Falsely claiming that they are bound by law to separate families who cross the border illegally, they say that they could and would gladly abandon the approach — if only Democrats joined them in supporting a package of new immigration legislation.
At a miserable White House news conference on Monday, Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, slithered around and away from reporters’ questions about the children’s suffering by saying, “What the president is trying to do is find a long-term fix.”
Translation: He can live, in the meantime, with this short-term horror. Can everybody else?
On Twitter, Trump himself expectorated that all of this is “the Democrats fault for being weak and ineffective with Boarder Security and Crime.” He equates random capital letters with virility. They’re typographical ****. In another spasm of super-potency, he tweeted, “CHANGE THE LAWS!”
Translation: Give him his border wall and he’ll give the country relief from the sight of caged children and the sound of their sobs. Deny him and his government will stay its heartless course, no matter how much trauma is inflicted on these kids, no matter how much shame is heaped on America, no matter how profound the betrayal of its promise, no matter how deep the interment of its soul. He’ll blame the nightmare on his opponents and he’ll be persuasive, because he’s a better liar. He has had more practice at it.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/p ... pe=ArticleHow Anti-Immigration Passion Was Inflamed From the Fringe
By Michael D. Shear and Katie Benner June 18, 2018
WASHINGTON — Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller spent years on the political fringe in the nation’s capital as high-decibel immigration hard-liners, always warning about the dangers of open borders but rarely in a position to affect law or policy.
Now, Mr. Sessions, the attorney general and former senator from Alabama, and Mr. Miller, the president’s top policy adviser and former Senate aide to Mr. Sessions, have moved from the edges of the immigration debate to its red-hot center. Powerful like never before, the two are the driving force behind President Trump’s policy that has led thousands of children to be separated from their parents at the nation’s southern border.
It was Mr. Sessions who ordered prosecutors to take a new “zero tolerance” attitude toward families crossing into the United States, part of his plans to reshape the country’s law enforcement priorities to limit immigration. It is Mr. Miller who has championed the idea inside the White House, selling Mr. Trump on the benefits of a policy that his adversaries have called “evil,” “inhumane” and equivalent to child abuse or the internment of the Japanese during World War II.
“The U.S. government has a sacred, solemn, inviolable obligation to enforce the laws of the United States to stop illegal immigration and to secure and protect the borders,” Mr. Miller said in a recent interview. Asked if the images of children being taken from their parents would eventually make the president back down, Mr. Miller was adamant.
“There is no straying from that mission,” he said. On Monday, as an audio recording became public of children crying for their parents after being separated at the border, Mr. Sessions vigorously defended his zero-tolerance policy. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws,” Mr. Sessions declared in a speech to law enforcement officers.
The partnership between Mr. Sessions and Mr. Miller began in 2009, when Mr. Miller, a conservative rabble rouser and contrarian who emerged from the left-leaning Santa Monica, became a spokesman for the senator. He sported sideburns and skinny ties as he often delivered long and passionate lectures to reporters, and anyone else who would listen, about the dangers of granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. Mr. Sessions, 71, had strong views shaped by his experience as a young politician in rural Alabama, where he saw immigrants take jobs at a poultry plant away from poor, unskilled Americans. During more than a decade as a federal prosecutor and state attorney general, and 20 years in the Senate, Mr. Sessions came to believe that immigrants, whether here legally or illegally, posed a direct threat to the country by depressing wages, committing crimes and competing for welfare benefits. He was deeply influenced by the work of George Borjas, a Harvard economist who has said that immigrants have an adverse impact on the economy.