Trump’s ghastly border policies make asylum-seekers more desperate

If the president and Republicans were serious about finding a solution, they’d join the effort. But Trump needs a crisis to ramp up fear

SHARE Trump’s ghastly border policies make asylum-seekers more desperate
People line up to cross the border into the U.S. on the International Bridge 1, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on July 16, 2019.

People line up to cross the border into the U.S. on the International Bridge 1, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, on July 16, 2019.

AP Photos

President Donald Trump created a crisis at the southern border. Now he will use it to try to get re-elected next year.

It’s classic Trump: Make a bigger mess of our immigration system to prey on some Americans’ nativist fears. Trump is the closest thing to a savior for middle-class and poor whites who resent immigrants. And he’s an expert at sowing division.

His messaging works, too. If people support overhauling immigration and running a legitimate asylum process, then they support open borders. That, at least, is the picture painted by Trump and his many allies in Congress.

Columnists bug

Columnists

In-depth political coverage, sports analysis, entertainment reviews and cultural commentary.

By and large, elected Democrats do not support open borders. They never have. Same with Republicans who supported modernizing our immigration system in the past but now are silent under Trump.

“Demagoguery can be effective,” a congressional aide remarked to me this week.

Trump repeatedly has made ghastly moves that have resulted in chaos at the border. When he threatened to close the border, he gave a boost to human traffickers who could use his words to persuade desperate Central Americans to act quickly to make the trek to America before the anticipated closure. Making matters worse, the Department of Homeland Security under Trump has shifted resources from human trafficking cases to carrying out Trump’s poorly planned “zero tolerance” policies.

When Trump says he will pull aid from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, it spreads fear in those countries. People living in poverty can only assume their plight will worsen. That’s more incentive to flee their homelands.

In late 2017, Trump canceled the Central American Minors refugee program that allowed some children from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to apply for resettlement from their home countries. It was put in place by the Obama administration to prevent children from heading on foot to the U.S. to make their claims.

Again, Trump gave people — kids — a reason to make the dangerous trip to the border.

Trump paralyzed immigration courts by shutting down the government last winter. Some pending cases that could not be heard during the shutdown ended up being delayed for years. He succeeded in further crippling a backlogged court system.

His latest attack on the asylum process, making migrants who pass through another country ineligible for asylum in the U.S., could result in even more people crossing the treacherous Rio Grande or Arizona desert and dodging asylum altogether. That means they won’t be vetted.

“The reality is that President Trump’s cruel and ineffective policies on immigration have made our southern border much less secure than when he took office,” Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this week.

Durbin has led efforts to overhaul the immigration system and has long advocated for protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

In his speech, Durbin emphasized that the U.S. can have a secure border and meet international obligations to protect refugees fleeing persecution “as we have done on a bipartisan basis for decades.”

Last fall Durbin and other Democrats proposed a bill to address the humanitarian crisis in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Its goal is to push for reforms in those countries and try to stem migration to the U.S. To go anywhere, the bill needs active support from both parties.

If Trump and Republicans were serious about finding a solution, they’d join the effort. But it doesn’t suit them. Trump needs a crisis to ramp up fear and proclaim he has the answers.

Beware of false prophets.

Marlen Garcia is a member of the Sun-Times Editorial Board.

The Latest
State Sen. Darren Bailey had been seeking Trump’s endorsement for months. The downstate farmer met with Trump last year and attended a fundraiser in April in which he snapped a photo with the former president.
Offense has scored three runs in its last three losses to the Orioles, who entered Saturday’s game with a 4.10 ERA - 12th in the AL
“The risk to residents of suburban Cook County remains low, but we want individuals to be aware of the signs and symptoms of monkeypox so that they seek medical care if they develop,” said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, CCDPH chief operating officer.
Hoerner has set career highs in RBI and home runs already this season.
The players are Andrew Vaughn, Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, AJ Pollock and Luis Robert