Thursday, July 17, 2014

People Are Not Illegal

 Here's a snippet from Tuesday's regular White House briefing, in which press flack Josh Earnest was confronted about the gut-churning televised spectacle of a planeload of mothers and children being deported from the US and dumped into the most dangerous city on the planet.
MR. EARNEST:  Well, Jeff, the flight that you’re referring to was a flight that was operated by the Department of Homeland Security in their capacity as a law enforcement agency, that they were enforcing the law.  So that is a decision that was made by that law enforcement agency.
I would point out, though, that that is a reflection of the effort that this administration has made to increase the resources that are used to deal with this surge that we’ve seen in recent days.  That flight was composed of -- the people who were on that flight were individuals who had attempted to enter this country without documentation and were traveling with a minor, so these were so-called family units.  And they had been apprehended at the border. 
They had been detained at the Artesia facility in New Mexico that we opened up a just a few weeks ago.  And it is a reflection in part of this administration’s commitment to prioritize the cases of recent border crossers, and that should be a clear signal, again, to individuals who are contemplating making the dangerous journey, or putting their children in the hands of a criminal to make the dangerous journey from Central America to the United States, that if apprehended at the border, they will be -- they're entitled to due process, but they will not be welcomed to this country with open arms.
Q    So you’ve made clear that it was DHS.  But is the White House or the President involved at all in authorizing that flight and/or future flights like it?
MR. EARNEST:  Well, the President is responsible for setting out sort of the topline policy for -- adding additional resources within his capacity as the head of the executive branch to address some of these problems.  And he’s certainly been working closely with the Secretary of Homeland Security to surge those resources to open these facilities.  He directed the FEMA Director to step in and play a role in coordinating among DHS, DOD and HHS, who are the agencies involved in this broader effort.  So there is a role for the President to play in terms of making decisions about where to devote our resources and how those resources should be deployed to address this specific problem.  But when it comes specifically to enforcing the law, that's the responsibility of law enforcement officials, and that flight reflects their commitment to carrying out their duties.
As USA Today reports,
 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said they are among nearly 82,000 migrants from Central America who have been returned this fiscal year.
"As President Obama, the vice president and (Homeland Security) Secretary (Jeh) Johnson have said, our border is not open to illegal migration, and we will send recent illegal migrants back," she said.
Even some Democratic politicians who can usually be counted upon to stay herded in the Obama veal pen are rediscovering their lost moral compasses in the face of this blatant inhumanity. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, to her credit, is finally saying no to The One. Maybe it's out of concern for her own political hide and the Hispanic vote, and maybe it's out of true compassion for the child refugees. But whatever the reason, her public repudiation of Obama's heartlessness is a refreshing breath of fresh air. I'd actually been waiting for her to urge her caucus to "embrace the suck" as she has done so often before, when it came to caving on the president's austerity budget, social security cuts and punting on unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless.

That Obama is actually trying to placate the growing throngs of gun-toting xenophobes hurling epithets at distressed refugee families is a new low -- even for him. His equation of children with invading hordes that require a military "counter-surge" ranks right down there with his drone assassination crusade against other brown-skinned "foreigners" in other parts of the world. It also helps explain how his administration can defend Israel on what is increasingly looking like a genocide against Palestinians.

It's more than sociopathy. It's pure evil, institutionalized and sanitized. It's weaponry labeled as humanitarianism:

Hear us then: we know.
You are our enemy. This is why we shall
Now put you in front of a wall. But in consideration
of your merits and good qualities
We shall put you in front of a good wall and shoot you
With a good bullet from a good gun and bury you
With a good shovel in the good earth.-- Slavoj Zizek

My New York Times comment in response to Charles Blow's column (heartfelt and true, except for the fact that he places all of the blame for the current outbreak of bigotry on Republicans and none on Obama):
 It's good to see more Democratic leaders taking a compassionate stand on behalf of the refugee children. Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday publicly rebuked the White House's initial call for mass deportation of the children and willingness to negotiate with the xenophobes. The displaced people who fled for their lives are no different than the Katrina victims.
But witness the nauseating haste with which the mother-child family units are being deported. The moms are being punished for sharing the hazardous journey north with their kids, rather than sending them on alone. It speaks volumes about pols who pontificate about the sanctity of the intact family!
The refugees are just the latest scapegoats in this richest country on earth with the most extreme wealth disparity on earth. The have-littles are demonizing the have-nothings, and the have-everythings are just egging them on. It's the same old divide and conquer technique rulers always use to pit various oppressed groups against one another.
In Murrieta, the population skyrocked by 200% during the burst bubble of a first decade of this century. Among its top 10 employers are such low wage hell-holes as Walmart, Sam's Club, Lowe's, Home Depot and Target. When the mayor complained his town is getting a black eye, he boasted that Murrieta is home to 700 (!) charities and a Bible center. Desperation and old-time religion make for a perfect xenophobic storm.
It's not an immigration crisis. And human beings cannot be illegal.
I was paraphrasing another Nobel Peace Prize recipient:

 No Human Being is Illegal


Denis Neville said...

Karen is spot on about it being “the same old divide and conquer technique rulers always use to pit various oppressed groups against one another.”

Shame on Obama for his appeasement of the xenophobes and his despicable justifications for violence worldwide.

Millions of people worldwide are being forced from their homes by war, human rights abuses, large-scale development projects, climate change induced famines, and natural disasters. Many also have to leave because their circumstances make it impossible to remain. This is why international conventions recognize that "refugees include those who flee poverty and wretched conditions associated with marginalization and prejudice".

When women and children are fleeing the staggering crime and violence and extreme poverty in those Central American countries, how can we think “protecting” ourselves is more important than helping these people?

Have they no memory of the tragedy of S.S. St. Louis? The passengers, almost all were Jews fleeing from the Third Reich, had hoped for freedom in the United States so as to escape sure death upon their return to Germany. The State Department and the White House decided not to let the refugees enter the United States. The passengers had "await their turns on the waiting list and qualify for and obtain immigration visas before they may be admissible into the United States." The St. Louis sailed back to Europe. Of the 620 passengers, who returned to continent, only 87 managed to emigrate before the German invasion of Western Europe. 532 were trapped when Germany and just over half survived the Holocaust.

Such is our neo-liberal global order. The free movement of capital that brings untold misery and suffering to workers worldwide is guaranteed, while at the same time keeping the doors of the United States firmly closed.

The daughter of a friend has worked in the Jordanian Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugee camps. There are over 600,000 refugees in those camps.

And we whine and declare “they will not be welcomed to this country with open arms.”

Incoming propaganda shit-storm, more scapegoats, as Malaysia airliner is shot down in Ukraine separatist area [blame Russia] and Israel opens its ground assault on Gaza [blame Palestinians "terrorists"].

Glenn Greenwald, “NBC News Pulls Veteran Reporter from Gaza After Witnessing Israeli Attack on Children,”


Pearl said...

Denis: Thank you for such a meaningful comment to Karen's great latest column. Your
access for the article regarding pulling out reporter Mohyeldin by NBC reminds me of the reporters in the U.S. who tried to get their voices heard against the invasion of Iraq and were censored. They came to Canada and were interviewed on CBS instead. And the beat goes on. People's lives are becoming more and more disposable.

Patricia said...

Thank you for this. What I can't square is how all these "right to lifers" and "family values" crap, well, just doesn't add up. We either value children or we don't. The answer is clear. This is so shameful. It disgusts me. The result of our meddling in these countries that these helpless children are fleeing, isn't even mentioned. "Suffer the little children" That's Matthew 19:14. Christian values are only for American children, depending on race, sex, and economics. This will go down as one of the most shameful moments in US history.

Zee said...

“My liberal conscience in a classic dither, I fear.” --Denis Neville (In another context.)

Well, my conservative conscience is in a dither as well.

When I see the innocent faces—and note the tender ages—of many of the children that have come across the Rio Grande to claim asylum here, my heart goes out to them. When I learn the circumstances at home that caused them—and their mothers—to make their hugely dangerous journeys from Central America, across Mexico, to reach the United States, I become even more sympathetic to them.

It is, after all, our bottomless thirst for illegal drugs and appetite for young sex objects that has created criminal anarchy for Central Americans at home, and causes them to flee to the United States to attain some measure of safety. We could destroy the gangs that have ruined their Central American countries at a single stroke, by legalizing all manner of drugs, and securing the border to eliminate human trafficking. But our do-nothing Congress and “retired-in-place” President will do neither. But that's a topic for an entire guest post of its own.

With some 11-12 million people in this country who have already entered and/or remained illegally—and yes, I think that “illegally” is the proper word, for it, political correctness notwithstanding—my response to an additional 50,000 or more refugees is “Meh?” I've already conceded in past posts that it's ridiculous to ever imagine apprehending, “processing” and deporting this many people, so we need to settle on a way to legitimize/normalize their presence here and treat them as permanent residents or people on their way to citizenship, henceforth. So what's another 50,000—or even 500,000—people that we need to integrate into our society? We have the wherewithal to do it, if we choose to find it. The $3.7B that President Peace Prize (Tip of the hat to annenigma for coining that terrific appelation!) has claimed that he needs to resolve the “border crisis” is nothing in the big [money printing] scheme of things that we're already in.

But—to my mind—here's the rub to this issue of conscience: How many other mothers and children are there around the globe who also live in dangerous situations or who might otherwise be classified as “refugees” according to “international standards” mentioned by Denis, “includ[ing] those who flee poverty and wretched conditions associated with marginalization and prejudice...” who would just love to cross the Rio Grande and claim asylum, medical care, a cot and three meals a day for themselves and their children?

Is it another 500,000? Or, more likely, is it 5,000,000, 500,000,000, or a round 1,000,000,000? Maybe even more?

How many “refugees” can this country absorb? What's the “magic number” wherein we decide enough is enough and start turning people away as Australia, for example, has already done several times in recent history?

(To be continued...)

Zee said...

Immigration (cont'd)--

And what turn of logic makes that number the “magic” number for the United States? At what point do we decide as a people —because that is how we are going to have to do it, as a people, not according to the dictates of some single Progressive or Conservative tyrant unless a revolution occurs—that we won't accept any further decline in our standard of living to accommodate the needs of the rest of the world? Because that is what will certainly happen if we decide that unlimited immigration or unlimited acceptance of asylum requests is what we wish to do as a nation.

Until that question gets answered, I remain uneasy.

Being a Conservative, I like to be honest with myself and others, even when I have to confess to selfishness. (Which some Progressives would describe as the defining trait of Convservatives.) You know, I like where I am today. It seems to be “enough” to get me through to the end of my one life to live. I know that we can absorb yet more immigrants/refugees without seriously affecting my economic status today. But how many more...well...I'm not sure.

How many more of the world's tired, poor and huddled masses are you willing to accept on our shores, and at what cost to your standard of living? Or does that question not even factor in to Progressive calculations?

My conscience, at least, is in a dither.

Pearl said...

Zee: I applaud your heartfelt concern for the lost children trying to get into the United States. Then when you ask when do we draw the limits to all this you should have added that regardless of the fact that we can no longer absorb everyone, to ask how did so many of these refugees from south of our border end up in such dire straits? Just read about the history of U.S. involvement in those countries, supporting the worst kinds of leaders and getting rid of the others by violence. We are reaping what we have sowed and regardless of who is actually physically responsible for the destruction of the Malaysian airliner just blown up over the Ukraine by missiles for example, the West has done its share of creating hatred and animosity there and almost everywhere else.
Somehow, one hopes that the horrors happening have become so unacceptable, that things must be turned around rapidly as it is destroying everyone. The people who died in this calamity over the Ukraine are representative of what and whom we are truly destroying among us. Surely there is an important message here. To change the purpose of the United States as to the direction of the Ship of State is the only way to cut back the number of desperate people resulting. That way your conscience can be in less of a dither.
Yes Pogo we have met the enemy and he is us.

annenigma said...

Well excuse me, but Palestinians seem to be illegal just by still being alive, judging by the repeated killing sprees by Israel over the decades.

We're now seeing a clear case of Bleeding Heart Liberal Syndrome. BHLs care about refugees on our southern border who are voluntarily making the risky journey to get here, while remaining quiet about Palestinians who are trapped in Gaza. If they could escape, like most refugees they'd take shelter in the nearest country. They wouldn't keep going another thousand miles. (If Mexico is so unsafe, we should welcome the whole of Mexico too). Most of these Palestinians can't escape except by death, they've lost homes and livelihood too. They live in one big concentration camp.

How about demanding America rescue them by ship and bring them to our shores to escape near certain death by Israel, now or during Israel's next now predictable and regularly scheduled slaughter. Just because those people can't walk to our border, they don't count? Oh, I forget, Israel would never allow us to do that. They seem to run too much of our government behind the scenes.

The Obama regime claims that Israel has a right to defend itself, from children evidently, and Israel picks them off faithfully every couple years, like shooting fish in a barrel.

'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind'. President Peace Prize wins that prize too - blind as a bat. Unfortunately, he's got lots of company in the darkness.

Pearl said...

annenigma: Jewish Voice for Peace is an extremely active organization of young American Jews who are fighting the current Israeli policies tooth and nail. They have impressive e-mails going out, have demonstrations, support censorship of buying Israel goods, getting the straight information out, etc. There are also several other peace organizations following suit. They know they cannot depend on the Obama regime to do anything and it is inspiring that this has happened finally. It helps.

Denis Neville said...

“The humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected and duly taken in.” – Pope Francis

Eff the Pope! Put them on a plane and send them to the Vatican! The children from Central America have evoked a nativist backlash. Locally, not far from where I live, yesterday was the National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform/Amnesty & Border Surge at a busy intersection. They don't want any of the children sent here.

How do they reconcile this with the Christian values many of them supposedly espouse? I really don't get their selfish "I've got mine, Jack" and to hell with everybody else philosophy. Is that being faithful to the gospel? Are they living as Jesus did in relationship with people at the margins of society? Did Jesus say, "I got mine?"

Sending vulnerable children back raises troubling questions about our moral character. “We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion - suffering with others,” says Pope Francis.

Is this an immigration crisis, or is it a refugee crisis? The UN High Commissioner for Refugees wants to designate many of the Central Americans as refugees. They would be among the first modern migrants considered refugees because they are fleeing violence and extortion at the hands of criminal gangs. The numbers are small when compared to refugee situations worldwide. There are over a million Syrian refugees in Turkey; over 2 million Syrian in Jordan. Those countries are tiny compared to the US. It's our responsibility to manage this. Instead, our myopic Congress and Obama are seeking for ways to deport the children more quickly. What a sad world we live in.

Under both international and US law, many of them have a strong case for asylum in the United States.

Obama shows no concern for international law.

The US also has a moral responsibility in the Central America refugee crisis.

As Pearl righteously asks, “how did so many of these refugees from south of our border end up in such dire straits?” After aiding the military/landowner alliance in El Salvador, where 75,000 people died, the US walked away, leaving the shattered region to rebuild on its own. When the Honduran military overthrew the elected government, the Obama administration accepted the coup over the protests of pro-democracy forces there. Our war on drugs has also raised the overall level of violence. Central America's Northern Triangle of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras has become one of the most violent regions on earth in recent years, with swathes of all three countries under the control of drug traffickers and street gangs.

Our government shows zero concern for Washington’s historic responsibility in Central America.

There is no humanitarian solution. The solution is political and the solution is to solve the conflicts that generate these dramatic levels of displacement.

In the meantime, let “these children be welcomed and protected and duly taken in.”

Anonymous said...

Correction. On an earlier comment on this page I referred to American reporters being interviewed in Canada at CBS.The Canadian station is actually CBC News and a very liberal one it is.
A great difference between the two. Which reminds one of how our news is often changed by the wording on TV and newspaper reports as recent objections to the NYTimes changing the headings for the report of the shelling of the children on the beach in Gaza.

Pearl said...

The above is from Pearl not anonymous. Those boxes are too close to each other.

David said...

I think we make the mistake of framing every issue as a binary issue (right or wrong, left or right) when it might be more useful to consider that the people we disagree with also make a valid point. So if you live in TX or AZ, what's happening at the border looks like a human wave assault. I get that... and they are also right that it is an abuse of our (once) native decency.

This is not to minimize the situation from which they are fleeing, but to acknowledge that there is a problem on this end, too. (And this is not to in any way diminish our disappointment and horror at what this President - and his Presidency - has become. Superior(?) intellect has not prevented him from playing the Bush league game.)

The proposition that we simply admit them is ludicrous. The right has a point. But we can't, as I read on Kos, put them on catapults and send them back either. The left is on solid humanitarian ground.

Where, in this argument, is the ntion that if the Pentagon is itching for a fight, why not have it where it actually affects our national interest - and affects what is happening on our borders? Central America might be the place to test out the next generation of American diplomacy - the kind we deliver from drones.

This is a mess. And no one, not even Sardonicky, has come up with anything like a solution. Because it is a total, complete fustercluck.

falken751 said...

There are 40 million people living in poverty in this US, actually we shouldn't be taking in other countries impoverished people or children.