Let us not forget, swamped as we are with outrages from four years of Donald Trump as president, the cruelty this nation inflicted on migrant families seeking asylum here. We separated at least 3,000 children from their parents, and Stephen Miller, this dark and racist young man who advises Trump on immigration policy and who has been linked to white supremacist views, wanted to scale up the cruelty. He wanted the United States to separate all immigrant families, even those going through the civil proceedings established in law. That would have separated another 25,000 children from their parents, according to this comprehensive report from NBC News.
Miller thought family separation was a tool to use to deter Central American families from trying to enter the U.S., legally or illegally, and that it should be expanded. And so, in May 2018, 11 of Trump’s senior advisers were called to the White House, where they were asked, by a show-of-hands vote, to decide whether to move forward with Miller’s plan
Here is the key passage:
At the meeting, Miller accused anyone opposing zero tolerance of being a lawbreaker and un-American, according to the two officials present.
“If we don’t enforce this, it is the end of our country as we know it,” Miller said, according to the two officials. It was not unusual for Miller to make claims like that, but this time he was adamant that the policy move forward, regardless of arguments about resources and logistics.
No one in the meeting made the case that separating families would be inhumane or immoral, the officials said. Any moral argument about immigration “fell on deaf ears” inside the White House, one of the officials said.
“Miller was tired of hearing about logistical problems,” one of the officials said. “It was just ‘Let’s move forward and staff will figure this out.'”
Frustrated, Miller accused [DHS Secretary Kirstjen] Nielsen of stalling and demanded a show of hands. Who was in favor of moving forward? he asked.
A sea of hands went up.
Miller’s plan did not happen, but only because the Department of Homeland Security did not have the staffing to pull it off. “At the time,” NBC reported, “no plan was in place to track the children who had been [already] separated or to create a system to reunite thousands of separated families.”
Still, take a minute to imagine two things: Being desperately poor and seeking asylum with your family in the Great USA, only to be detained and have your child taken away from you and placed in a cage. . . .
Imagine a room full of white men and one white woman, seated at a table, raising their hands in support of more of this cruelty.
Spokesmen for the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services denied the show of hands happened. But I will go with NBC because, at this point in the Trump presidency, I will trust journalists before I ever accept statements from people who work for Donald Trump. Agreeing to the level of racist cruelty we have seen in this administration requires an intellectual and moral contortion beyond my comprehension as a mere human being living in what was once the most generous and welcoming country in the world, a nation built by immigrants. What a crock that is, given the vote of millions of Americans to employ Trump and his white nationalism. And given what polls indicate, millions are ready to vote for this again.
I keep hearing the voice of Elijah Cummings: “We are better than this, we really are.” I admired E.C. and understood that phrase to be aspirational. But that’s all I can say about it at this point. I am not convinced we are better than this — not until Americans vote Trump and Miller out of the White House.