In what will likely become known as the Age of Orange, cross-party unity is hard to come by. There was, of course, that short period just after the election when James Comey managed to piss off both Democrats and Republicans, temporarily uniting opposing forces against a shared evil (ahhh, happy days). But within the last few weeks, unity has struck again. Unfortunately, the subject at issue isn’t Comey’s unpopularity. It’s the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy of forcibly separating migrant children from their parents.
In case anyone reading this doesn’t understand why systematically tearing families apart should matter to them, here’s a local tie-in: Many displaced migrant children were moved to a Fort Worth shelter because of Trump’s policy. From toxic gasbag Kellyanne Conway to pretty much every Democrat in Washington, bipartisan furor over the heartless separation policy swept political discourse across the nation. Likely this furor is what led the Salamander in Chief to issue his executive order last week to “keep families together.” Now he’s expecting (and, in some circles, receiving) praise for this move.
Interesting how heroic a president’s actions suddenly become when his policies prove wildly unpopular.
Under Trump’s executive order, families would be detained together until they can be tried for illegally entering the United States. This change would require that the U.S. District Court of California “modify” its Flores v. Sessions ruling that children cannot be detained for more than 20 days.
What’s worse, on Sunday, Trump’s former homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, told ABC the executive order would likely “not survive three weeks” before being overruled in federal court.
Over the weekend, the administration added that the more than 2,000 children currently in government custody will be reunited with their families only after their parents’ deportation proceedings have concluded. Until they can be deported, these families will reportedly remain separated.
In other words, this alternative is not much better. Families coming to the United States will now stay together but will still be forced to live in squalor with no end date in sight. Meanwhile those already separated will be reunited but only to be sent home – even if they are seeking asylum (which is not illegal, even if they are undocumented).
It isn’t brave or heroic for the president to issue an order reversing a policy he’s responsible for. Claiming any presidential righteousness for this executive order is like rewarding a child for completing his stint on the time-out chair.
Trump systematically refuses to take responsibility for his actions, a textbook trait for narcissists. Were he coming from a place of consideration and humility, he wouldn’t have felt the need to defend the practice (and himself) in his executive order. As it is, Trump still used the occasion to act as though he didn’t have anything to do with family detention, saying “Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position” of separating families.
Flip-flopping is not unusual for Trump. There are countless examples of him changing his mind on issues, from foreign policy to his golfing habits. Since his executive order followed his repeated false claims that only Congress could fix the family-separation policy, his order is just another example of his consistent untrustworthiness. No wonder he received that suspiciously worded letter of health from his doctor –– back-pedaling must be really good exercise.
One Democratic representative for California told NBC earlier this month that family separation was Trump’s tool for extorting Congress to pass a bill for constructing a border wall. Traumatizing children for the sake of blackmail is not only staggering. It is symbolic of Trump’s “zero tolerance” presidency. He has proven on several occasions to be a president who does not tolerate opposing opinions and doesn’t care who has to suffer for him to get what he wants.
All we can do now is hope that concerned voters in Texas make their disgust known this November and elect politicians who see the value in human beings – not just the PR.