Family separation

Had a fun political conversation with a friend hanging out at the pool tonight.  We agreed that, if this were any other president, this family separation policy, would be a defining negative event with lasting, negative political consequences.  Though, in all honesty, it’s so hard to know with Trump.  It really does seem like he could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue– fake news!!– and his base would still support him.  Nice to see, though, that in this case, only 55 % of Republicans support the policy (and only 27% of the public overall).  Disturbing that it’s over half, but still, that’s worse than he fares among Republicans on about anything.

Also, interesting to note, that while this has been happening for weeks, it really seems to have boiled over this weekend.  And judging by twitter, it really blew up even more today.  Why?  Well, images of children in literal cages probably has something to do with it.  And, I think that some prominent Republicans coming out against it, i.e., Laura Bush, Lindsey Graham, gave reporters the sense they could give it the negative coverage it so deserves without feeling guilty of liberal bias.  Given increasing numbers of Republicans recognizing that this is political kryptonte, it will, hopefully, only get worse for Trump.

Here’s what I wrote this morning for my Slovakian audience.  I let loose:

“Controversial” is a nice way of putting it. I hope it is not partisan to say that I, like many, many Americans find this policy simply immoral and unconscionable. How any parent could remotely support this is just beyond me. Even more disgusting is that Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders would use the bible to justify this policy. Forget as a political scientist, as an American, I am honestly saddened and appalled at what my government is doing. One can certainly favor stronger border enforcement without literally ripping families apart. My sense is that opposition to this policy is only growing and that the Trump administration will have to backtrack as increasing number of his own party speak out against it.

Some excellent summary points in Brian Beutler’s newsletter today [all formatting in original]:

The Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents who’ve been apprehended crossing the U.S. border has finally broken through into public consciousness the way only the most serious scandals and screw ups ever do.

Journalism was central to that change. Reporters have described children held in cages, published photos to contradict administration denials, and detailed the government’s plan to create prison camps for the children. ProPublicareleased audio of children screaming. High-profile figures, including Republicans like Laura Bush and Bill O’Reilly (!!!), publicly condemned the policy…

In recent days, Trump officials have at turns described child separation as:

From Brian: What Nielsen made clear today is that the Trump administration views the imprisoned children as sources of leverage. In response, all 49 Senate Democrats have signed on to legislation that would prohibit family separation, but no Senate Republicans have joined them. In the House, Republicans are using the leverage Trump has offered to push forward restrictionist immigration proposals.

There are three ways this policy can end: Trump’s surrender; the passage of legislation banning child separation as either a stand-alone bill or as part of a larger immigration bill; or by voting all of the people enabling the policy out of office. What’s also clear: If Democrats pay the ransom, Trump will be emboldened to take more hostages, and in this case, the hostages are literally children.

A few other points I’m not sure I’ve mentioned yet in the blog…

The idea of defending this with the bible is so gross.  Of course it’s the same verse used to defend slavery back in the day.  Colbert is onto this, too.  As is John Oliver.

Just a reminder of how wantonly cruel this is.  And, worth noting, the government doesn’t actually have any plans to reunite families.  And, “‘Prison-like’ migrant youth shelter is understaffed, unequipped for Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, insider says.”

And, finally, this cruel policy was 100% intentional by some truly callous individuals to serve as a deterrent to immigration.  And, a friendly reminder, just because something serves as a deterrent, doesn’t make it right.  It would be a deterrent to give life sentences for shoplifting, but we don’t do that because it’s stupid and immoral.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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