Trump critics argued on Monday that the debate over President Donald Trump's policy of prosecuting asylum seekers and separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border should be centered on the driving force behind the practice—the racism and xenophobia of top Trump officials and those who constitute his political base.
Opinion: #Trump may blame Dems & spin the outcry over family separations as bleeding-heart liberal drivel. But the cruel policy is rooted in the racism so prevalent among his base, for whom the US is white & Christian. Those who “don’t look like us” aren’t welcome. #migrants
— Douglas Herbert (@dougf24) June 18, 2018
On Sunday, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon appeared on ABC's "This Week," telling guest host Jonathan Karl that he "couldn't be prouder" of the president—while in Texas, lawmakers and immigrant rights advocates rallied at a processing center for refugee-seeking families who are being separated by Trump's "zero tolerance" policy.
Bannon dismissed the widespread concern over the thousands of children being kept in detention centers as one held by "elites."
"The morality is the law. They're—they're criminals when they come across. Okay? Illegally. And that's why they're getting separated," Bannon said of the immigrants who have traveled from Central American countries, often escaping political unrest and violence. "...Donald Trump is put in a terrible situation...because the permanent political class in this city has not wanted to address this."
"President Trump and his policy makers, having risen to power on the back of Trump’s xenophobic campaign rhetoric, employ a darker and more morally flexible pragmatism. Implementing the border separation policy has always been part of their plan, it just took a little longer than people like Stephen Miller had hoped." —Chas Danner, New York
Meanwhile, Trump's senior policy adviser Stephen Miller spoke to the New York Times about the policy—one that he has fought to implement since the president was inaugurated.
"It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry, period," he told the Times.
Miller was also a chief architect of Trump's original ban on travelers from several majority-Muslim countries, calling it a necessary step aimed at "protecting the country."
In March, Dennis Carter at Rewire News urged the media to confront the truth about Miller's white supremacist beliefs masked as policies aimed at protecting Trump's base and those who fit the administration's definition of "real Americans":
Miller's influence—and extremism—is seen in Trump administration officials' flippant use of the term "globalist," a racist dog whistle term used to smear Jewish people as disloyal to a nation. ...Miller has long dismissed the idea that the United States should embrace membership of a global community, preferring instead who he calls the "real flesh-and-blood citizens who together create this body politic, this nation, this home, represented by that flag."
Just read this. Everyone. Read it. My blood is boiling. How about yours? What’s it going to take for real Americans to stand up and say, “Enough?” Miller, a proud racist is setting immigration policy and using children as poker chips. Bannon is gloating on TV! What the holy fuck? https://t.co/i5XukgQK2C
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— Leo Axler (@axler_leo) June 18, 2018
This is a list of demands from a hostage taker with a gun pointed at the heads of 2,000 detained children. https://t.co/x84bhAiSLg
— Ray (@SirEviscerate) June 15, 2018
Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday defended the administration's decision to enforce its "zero tolerance" policy for immigrants it claims are breaking the law—despite the fact that seeking asylum is a legal right. She claimed the children who are taken to detention centers across Texas are "very well taken care of"—hours after altogether denying that her agency has a policy of separating families.
Currently, the Trump administration is arguing that its family-separation policy:
- is a deterrent
- is biblically compliant
- is the Democrats' fault
- does not exist.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) June 18, 2018
But as the president and his Cabinet respond to protests over the policy, top officials have yet to admit that the separation of families is deliberate.
"President Trump and his policy makers, having risen to power on the back of Trump's xenophobic campaign rhetoric, employ a darker and more morally flexible pragmatism," wrote Chas Danner at New York magazine on Saturday. "Implementing the border separation policy has always been part of their plan, it just took a little longer than people like Stephen Miller had hoped. ...Zero tolerance, especially toward immigrants, isn't just a policy proposal to this president and his allies—it is the ideology that animates the entire Trump phenomenon, and a defining characteristic of the world as they want it to be."