Trump stands firm on immigration policy, sees it as a winner
By CATHERINE LUCEY, JONATHAN LEMIRE and JILL COLVIN
Wednesday, June 20
WASHINGTON (AP) — Calling the shots as his West Wing clears out, President Donald Trump sees his hard-line immigration stance as a winning issue heading into a midterm election he views as a referendum on his protectionist policies.
“You have to stand for something,” Trump declared Tuesday, as he defended his administration’s immigration policy amid mounting criticism over the forced separation of children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The chorus of condemnation includes Democrats, as well as Republicans, who are increasingly worried that reports about bereft children taken from their parents could damage the GOP’s chances in November.
Still, Trump believes that his immigration pledges helped win him the presidency and that his most loyal supporters want him to follow through. He made a rare trip to Capitol Hill late Tuesday to meet with GOP legislators and endorse a pair of bills that would keep detained families together, among other changes, but he remains confident that projecting toughness on immigration is the right call, said five White House officials and outside advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
“It’s amazing how people are surprised that he’s keeping the promises he made on the campaign trail now,” said Trump political adviser Bill Stepien.
While the White House signaled Trump may be open to a narrow fix to deal with the problem, the president spent the day stressing immigration policies that he has championed throughout his surprise political career. He has resisted calls to reverse the separation policy, saying any change must come through Congress.
In a speech to a business group earlier Tuesday, Trump said he wanted to see legislation deal with family separation, which, he said, “We don’t want.” He also emphasized border security and again made the false argument that Democrats are to blame for the family separation problem. Said Trump: “Politically correct or not, we have a country that needs security, that needs safety, that has to be protected.”
Several White House aides, led by adviser Stephen Miller, have encouraged the president to make immigration a defining issue for the midterms. And Trump has told advisers he believes he looks strong on the matter, suggesting that it could be a winning culture war issue much like his attacks on NFL players who take a knee for the national anthem.
Former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon said the president is emphasizing the policies that brought him to the White House.
“I think this is one of his best moments. I think this is a profile in courage. This is why America elected him,” Bannon said. “This is not doubling down, it is tripling down.”
Still, Trump, a voracious watcher of cable news who is especially attuned to the power of images, appeared to acknowledge later Tuesday that the optics could be doing damage.
During his closed-door meeting with lawmakers on the Hill, Trump said his daughter Ivanka had encouraged him to find a way to end the practice, and he said separating families at the border “looked bad,” according to several attendees.
“He said, ‘Politically, this is bad,’” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “It’s not about the politics. This is the right thing to do.”
Trump’s immigration standoff comes as he escalates his nationalist trade moves, imposing new tariffs on imports and threating more. With few powerful opposing voices remaining in the West Wing, Trump is increasingly making these decisions solo. Some key advisers have left, and chief of staff John Kelly appears sidelined.
Republicans, particularly those in more moderate districts, are worried they will be damaged by the searing images of children held in cages at border facilities, as well as by audio recordings of young children crying for their parents. The House Republicans’ national campaign chairman, Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, said Monday that he’s asking “the administration to stop needlessly separating children from their parents.”
Other conservatives also raised concerns, but many called for Congress to make changes instead of asking Trump to directly intervene. Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom coalition of evangelical voters, added to the drumbeat to end the child separation policy Tuesday, calling on Congress to pass legislation that would end the process as part of a broader immigration overhaul.
But asked if the border policy was bad for Trump politically, Reed suggested core supporters remain on the president’s side. He said the group’s members are “more than willing to give the president and his administration the benefit of the doubt that this is being driven by a spike in people crossing the border, a combination of existing law and court decisions require this separation, and the fact that the Democrats refused to work with the administration to increase judges so that this can be dealt with more expeditiously.” Trump on Tuesday mocked the idea of hiring thousands of new judges, asking, “Can you imagine the graft that must take place?”
Worried that the lack of progress on his signature border wall will make him look “soft,” according to one adviser, Trump has unleashed a series of tweets playing up the dangers posed by members of the MS-13 gang — which make up a minuscule percentage of those who cross the border. He used the loaded term “infest” to reference the influx of immigrants entering the country illegally.
As the immigration story becomes a national flashpoint, Trump has been watching the TV coverage with increasing anger, telling confidants he believes media outlets are deliberately highlighting the worst images — the cages and screaming toddlers — to make him look bad.
The president has long complained about his treatment by the media, but his frustrations reached a boiling point after he returned from his Singapore summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to face news reports questioning his negotiating skills. He complained to one adviser that the media had not given him enough credit after the summit and was continuing to undermine him on immigration, according to a person familiar with the conversation but not authorized to speak publicly.
On Tuesday, Trump argued that sticking by his policies was a winning political strategy as he took a fresh shot at Democrats.
“They can’t win on their policies, which are horrible,” he said. “They found that out in the last presidential election.”
Associated Press writers Zeke Miller and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.
Happy Fathers Day?
by Wim Laven
The hypocrisy of American Values was front and center for Fathers Day in 2018. The U.S. government has taken at least 2,000 children from their parents since Donald Trump’s administration implemented policy changes about six weeks ago. Trump has incorrectly claimed that this is the fault of Democrats, but it is a clear result of his “no tolerance” policy. But it isn’t clear what they are refusing to tolerate; many of those being victimized have gone through completely legal requests for asylum. The U.S. has a history of breaking up families; during slavery children would be sold with no regard for family units and the Indian Child Welfare Act was used to destroy Native American populations for more than 100 years by removing children from their families.
One wouldn’t think it a political issue. Every living First Lady condemns separating immigrant children from their parents. But Congressional Republicans like Barry Loudermilk are happy to do the lying for Trump and try to point the finger in the other direction: “Where was the outrage of the documented abuses at the border during the Obama administration? Looks like the Democrats are being hypocritical here!”Loudermilk cannot point to the Obama administration snatching thousands of children from their parents but he can attempt a misdirect. Pay no attention to the little man behind the curtain!
One also wouldn’t have thought the U.S. would pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, but we did, or that 3,000 lies later his approval ratings of 45 percent would be tied for highest of his presidency, but they are, and time will tell whether or not people accept “tender age shelters” as being anything but cruel and unusual punishment.
It is important to be clear about the roots of the problem, and the issues at hand. Are the children being held hostage in an effort to build the wall that Mexico definitely will not pay for?
In my field of conflict transformation we focus on just, humane, and nonviolent problem-solving. Clearly Trump and his team are extremely limited in this regard. The coercive approach of hostage-taking damages relationships and increases opportunity costs. This cruelty, intended to function as a deterrent, has received broad condemnation from the United Nations to the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Psychological Association. Collaborative, win-win solutions, while more time consuming and harder to negotiate, are the preferred goal of diplomacy because they are more durable, have greater follow through, generate far less blowback, and are the easiest to enforce. Ignoring human rights, on the other hand, is decidedly lose-lose.
Are asylum seekers breaking the law? Not when they properly submit and identify themselves, but have we made that process achievable? Many families make the appropriate steps and are still broken up! We need to call the liars out—all of them. Puppets like Loudermilk are lying: Obama was heavily criticized for family detention centers (1), and what Trump is doing is much different and much worse (2). Hacks in the White House or on Fox News are lying when they say there are laws that require breaking up family units “they’ve been around a long time,” but no such law exists.
We can learn much from the American Psychological Association’s statement:
“The administration’s policy of separating children from their families as they attempt to cross into the United States without documentation is not only needless and cruel, it threatens the mental and physical health of both the children and their caregivers. Psychological research shows that immigrants experience unique stressors related to the conditions that led them to flee their home countries in the first place.”
Cases illustrate this, including the death of Marco Antonio Muñoz. This father crossed the Rio Grande with his wife and 3-year-old son on May 12 near the tiny town of Granjeno, Texas, where they were taken into custody, moved to a processing station in nearby McAllen, and were denied asylum. After being separated from his family Marco died—a “suicide in custody.” Should we treat families seeking asylum differently than families trying to illegally immigrate? What was the Muñoz family fleeing, and does it matter? Do we want to force families to decide between violence at home or potentially being torn apart at the U.S. border?
The more important questions reflect values. On Fathers Day I reflected on the man who taught me love, compassion, charity, and forgiveness. “Build bigger tables not bigger fences” is tidy on a bumper sticker, our Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” and I was taught these values. My father was a doctor, he lived in service to others. I learned by watching him. He treated everyone with respect and dignity. He served just like his father before him. It didn’t matter that father and grandpa were Democrat and Republican, because compassion, love, and charity weren’t political positions. I would take it further. The reason people seek asylum in the U.S., the reason families undergo the tremendous costs and risks with trying to start new lives, is that the U.S. has declared itself a melting pot where diversity is a strength. That proposition used to mean something.
Our communities are really suffering, and it is more than the medical ailments that my father used to treat. He took me to the homeless shelter with him, and I’ve not forgotten the lessons. Being homeless is hard on its own, being sick doesn’t make it any easier. Leaving your home for a better life, as a refugee, seeking asylum, fleeing violence, whatever the reason… I’ve never heard it told as an easy story. The least we can do is keep families together in the process. The hypocrisy has to stop; we say we care about families and values, now we’ve got to protect them. I cannot bear to imagine the consequences of allowing this persist.
Donald Trump manufactured this crisis and he could put a stop to it at any time. We need to be clear about both sets of issues in responding to this disaster. The people on both sides of the aisle need to declare that this is no place for coercive politics; asking for ransom and holding children hostage is unconscionable and will not be tolerated. Give Trump notice: we do not resort to childish bullying and terrorist tactics. We also need to be clear that we take human rights seriously. The ugly support that Trump has received for this unthinkable and entirely unnecessary cruelty is too much. Anyone who claims to care about families or honoring fathers cannot allow fathers to be pushed to heartbroken suicide, the time to speak up was yesterday.
Wim Laven, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a doctoral candidate in International Conflict Management at Kennesaw State University, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Governing Council of the International Peace Research Association.
Maddow breaks down on-air while describing ‘tender age’ migrant shelters
Free The Kids Now – National Walkout
Thursday, June 28 at 2 PM EDT
1) Invite 10 or more of your friends to this event and share it in like minded groups.
2) On June 28th at 2 p.m. Eastern walk out of work, walk out of school, and stop driving, etc. Do this for at least…