Updated: Jan 6, 2021
January 14, 2019
Donnie loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow; black and white. They are precious in his sight.
By Adam Cohen
Early in his presidency, some had hope. Donald Trump was incensed that Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on his people, violating international law and killing civilians. “[E]ven beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,” the president lamented.
In the wake of his disastrous Muslim ban, Trump took this moment to avenge the killing of Syrian children by ordering an airstrike on combined Syrian and Russian forces. At the time, some wondered whether this was a turning point for the blustering billionaire. Could it be that the president was beginning to understand his role as the leader of the free world, and with it the responsibility to hold those who commit atrocities accountable for their heinous actions? Was this finally the moment he would “pivot” from campaigning to governing? Did he really care about the suffering of children?
Omran Daqneesh, 5, after Syrian regime forces struck Aleppo
Unfortunately, much like a perceived oasis in the desert where the bombing occurred, Trump’s newfound respect for human rights turned out to be a mirage. Not only was there no follow through against Assad, the president has now started to withdraw American troops from Syria. As Russia and Iran, not to mention ISIS, look to fill the void left by America’s departure, one cannot help but wonder what will become of Syria’s civilian population. Many are caught between fighting forces comprised of terrorists or dictators. Some escaped to become refugees, unwanted by most countries of the west, where right wing conservative voices spread xenophobic and anti-Muslim stories about them. Others simply perish in the conflict. What, then, will happen to the children of Syria?
It doesn’t seem like Donald Trump has an answer.
Trump also said he had tremendous sympathy for DACA recipients, undocumented children brought to the United States by their parents who are permitted to stay under a policy begun by President Obama. Trump claimed he wanted to treat them with “great heart” because “I love these kids.”
People protest the Trump administration’s plans to cancel the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals march on Trump Tower in Manhattan, Aug. 30, 2017.
Such great heart that he unilaterally ended the program and with it the protections that allowed these DREAMers to stay in the United States. Despite the fact that they have been here over a decade. Despite the fact that they are positively contributing to the US economy and have become a vital part of their communities, just as the American melting pot contemplates. And despite the fact that most Americans favor letting them stay.
Even when offered billions of dollars for his beloved wall in exchange for reinstating DACA, Trump first agreed, then flopped after receiving flak from the right wing. And while DREAMers are safe for the moment because they sued the administration and a federal judge recognized how profoundly unfair it would be to deport people who are American in everything but the most hypertechnical sense, at some point they will face a Trump influenced Supreme Court, with Kavanaugh and Gorsuch.
Red, brown, yellow; black and white….
Trump’s fake empathy reared its head again after the Parkland shooting. These children were gunned down in cold blood, like so many times before. But the survivors wouldn’t let go. They made themselves heard and forced the president to respond to them. He formed committees, involving his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos (who in her confirmation hearing proclaimed guns were needed in schools to protect from the threat of grizzly bears-yes, really) and meeting with some of the affected families. But no serious proposals emerged from the swirl of activity, other than the ludicrous idea of arming teachers. Because having minors in close proximity to firearms has always proven to be a good idea, and marginally trained nonprofessionals bearing pistols is a surefire way to stop a maniac with an AR-15. Or, you know, to get more people killed.
Teenage activists protest the lack of sensible gun reform in the aftermath of Parkland
Finally all pretense that the president cared about children left when he decided to separate migrant children from their families at the border. He returned to the rhetoric of his campaign, calling immigrants “criminals” and comparing them to bugs, saying they were “infesting” America. No, Trump would show no mercy for immigrants coming from Mexico; they were “gang members” carrying drugs; they were bringing “diseases”, they were engaged in human trafficking. They were invaders! Only when people protested all across the country and the ACLU sued did Trump relent, signing an Executive Order to stop a policy that could’ve been halted by a presidential tweet.
Although Trump tried to claim he was no longer separating families, this fall came news that some 15,000 immigrant children have been placed into internment camps. 15,000! Worse, the government refuses to release them, despite an agreement it entered into years ago which states that America cannot detain migrant children more than 20 days. Even if there are qualified adults ready, willing and able to take the kids. Not only is this cruel, it is nonsensical. Why would this administration continue to keep them, when evidence indicates it is harmful to do so and there is a better alternative? Why would Trump spend the hundreds of millions it takes to place them into internment camps, when Americans will care for them, gratis? And why would the United States take on the liability, not to mention the horrible publicity, of imprisoning these children, especially when they cannot adequately care for them?
It was of course inevitable that a little girl, Jakelin Caal Maquin, died while in U.S. custody. And while the circumstances of her death were being debated, a little boy, Felipe Gomez Alonzo, also died. Surely, you might think, this would be a watershed moment which would change everything. Surely Trump would recognize the tragic folly of his hardline tactics and relent.
Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died in U.S. custody after making the dangerous trek from Guatemala
You might think that. But you’d be wrong. Because the so-called “crisis” at the border, wholly manufactured by this President when illegal border crossings have declined steadily for 18 years, hit both a literal and political wall. The President decided that immigration at America’s southern border MUST be resolved through the erection of his wall. This is of such great importance that he has shut down the government over it and threatened to declare a state of emergency wherein he would take money from OTHER programs, such as disaster relief from Puerto Rico and California, therefore adversely impacting OTHER children. Regardless of the fact that experts say a wall such as the President promised would be a waste of billions of dollars. And that it won’t stop illegal immigration, since most undocumented persons first come here legally. And it won’t stop illegal drugs, which mainly come in through legal ports of entry. And it won’t stop terrorism, since surprisingly there aren’t a lot of Islamic jihadists in Guatemala. And people can just climb over, tunnel under or go around a wall. And he repeatedly claimed Mexico would pay for it. And, and, and.
They are precious in his sight…
So while the President argues with Congress children languish in jails, where not only are they dying, they’re also being abused. Yet federal employees who can’t work must go to makeshift food banks to feed THEIR children. The president’s response? To give a speech repeating the same old, tired lies about the border and blame the Democrats, despite the fact that he said on live television that he would accept responsibility.
While Trump has offered a few statements in support of the furloughed employees, he refuses to sign legislation that would put them back to work, even though these bills have nothing to do with his wall and keeping them out of work ALSO compromises America’s security. Worse, he says the government will remain partially shut down until he gets his way, even if it takes months. But hey, at least Trump offered a plan to the federal workforce: do odd jobs in lieu of paying rent. That’s sure to satisfy their landlords, plus put food on their tables and pay their electric bills.
Furloughed federal workers protest the government shutdown in Philadelphia on January 8th, 2019
Yes, Trump has thus told America, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t care who he hurts so long as he gets what he wants. And neither does the GOP. The Senate passed a bill to fund the government before the shutdown. Unanimously. Since there’s a new Congress, the bill had to start all over, so the House passed that exact same bill. It should then be a no-brainer that the Senate would pass it again, right? But Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell seems hell-bent on abdicating his independent authority as a co-equal branch of government to instead secure his place on the Trump Trainwreck, refusing to let the so-called greatest deliberative body in the world even consider this measure. Shamefully, Trump and his GOP lackeys are united in their apathy.
Thankfully, the people of the United States care. They continue to rally in opposition to the internment camps. They send assistance to the families at the border, and speak out on social media. Prominent politicians such as Beto O’Rourke have made frequent visits to the facilities. Organizations such as RAICES, KIND and Lawyers for Good Government have provided legal and humanitarian aid to the families adversely affected by Trump Immigration. You can help by supporting them here:
Lawyers For Good Government
Who knows? Maybe your contribution will help an immigrant in America change the world, like Syrian Muslim Abdulfattah al-Jandali. Otherwise known as the biological father of Steve Jobs. Or maybe they’ll just become a friend, teach you about a different culture and show you a different perspective. Which might at least change a little corner of the world. Or maybe, just maybe, a family member of that refugee family will grow up to become President of the United States, where they can demonstrate how the world’s leading superpower can treat immigrants with dignity and respect.
Donnie loves the little children. All the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight. Donnie loves the little children of the world! The Loyal Opposition