KGW-TV - Inside the central processing facility at McAllen Border Patrol in Texas. KGW-TV - Inside the central processing facility at McAllen Border Patrol in Texas. KGW-Tv - Photo: US Customs and Border Protection

Nazi pogrom – Trump’s version Featured

LAST week, my two grandchildren visited us in Davao for a few days at the start of their school summer break. Sylvie just turned 4 and Oliver is 21 months. I think of them in light of what’s happening in the land of their birth, America. They are of the same age as those South American children, from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, who were forcibly separated from their parents at the Mexican border and “locked up in cages for processing before they are sequestered to at least three ‘tender age’ shelters” (Associated Press/, June 21, 2018).

Trump last April proclaimed his “zero tolerance” policy against illegal immigrants, chiefly from South American countries. Since the first week of May, close to 2,300 children, some as young as eight months, were taken into US government custody. As children are separated from their families, law enforcement agents reclassify them as “unaccompanied alien children.” Videoclips showing images of children in cages inside US Border Patrol processing stations, and of crying kids looking for their parents, barely able to talk much less speak English went viral in social media. I can’t separate the images of Sylvie and Oliver in the shoes of those young South American waifs. And I cringe at the cruelty of it all.

Trump promulgated an executive order interpreted by the US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the US government would criminally prosecute migrants crossing the US-Mexican border illegally. But the separation and detention of their children, dispersing them to 13 states is unprecedented; causing the breakup of families, traumatizing the children is downright inhumane.

What is inconceivable is that Trump’s decree was precipitate. His bureaucracy was unprepared for the influx of migrants with children and the three centers holding the children were repurposed hastily. “The shelters aren’t the problem; it’s taking kids from their parents that’s the problem,” said Dr. Marsha Griffin, a South Texas pediatrician who has visited many. To add to this tragedy, US officials from the Border Patrol and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) “at a press briefing were repeatedly asked by reporters for an age breakdown of the children who have been taken. Officials from both law enforcement said they didn’t know how many children were under age 5, under age 2, or even so little they’re non-verbal” (Associated Press). In short, these inept and incompetent bureaucrats don’t have working data on which separated child belongs to which illegal immigrant.

This inhuman and insane policy, which Trump has instituted, has the whole world in uproar. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the American Association of Pediatrics has called it a cruel practice of “government-sanctioned child abuse” which may cause “irreparable harm” with “lifelong consequences.” (The Island/Asia News Network, June 21, 2018.)

What the American President did was not far off from Nazi Germany’s abomination during World War 2 where countless numbers of Jews were packed into cattle cars and transported to Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Dachau, etc. Parents with children did not know where they were being taken. Similarly, at the processing center, the kids were cruelly separated from their parents and were led to the gas chambers for “showers and cleaning.” It was at the processing centers were parents saw their kids for the last time.

Trump may not have ordered the South American children to be separated from their families for “showers and cleaning” but there is a real possibility that these distressed kids – especially those babies and toddlers who can barely speak and are now interned in the “tender age shelter,” a euphemism for a children’s internment camp – will not see their parents soon, if at all.

It is bad enough that Trump has brought America to a new nadir by instituting such a policy but he had to lie to the American people that “he can’t do anything about it, as this is the fault of the Democrats and needs US Congress reversal, not an EO.” (Last June 21, Trump amid mounting world pressure, issued another EO reversing himself.)

Apparently, he was holding these children hostage merely for political reasons: to force Congress, especially the Democrats, to fund his Mexican wall as part of a deal to fulfill his election promise to his “electoral base.” What is even more unconscionable was the depraved and incompetent handling of the situation by those responsible on the ground, Kirstjen Nielsen of Homeland Security and especially Alex Azar head of the HHS who are actually clueless on the magnitude of this crisis.

This shameless act by an American president was in total contrast with cherished American values and the obvious fact that America is a land of migrants. America’s greatness and true genius lie in its diversity, glorified by a famous 1883 sonnet by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

Despite Trump’s late executive order to reverse himself (six weeks after), this crisis of his own making is far from over, and a great harm has been inflicted on the reputation of America. But the bigger damage is to the Latin-American children cruelly wrenched from parents.

In retrospect and looking at the current Philippine situation, DU30’s pivoting the country away from the US may have been a serendipitous move. Trump’s imprimatur on this immigration fiasco, his comportment on the world stage, unilateral retraction of agreements and whimsical withdrawal from international partnerships and boorish demeanor has marked him as an ugly American gone rogue.

True, the Deegong and the Donald have some unnerving similarities conferred solely upon political leaders of their caliber. Both possess oversized egos and are beguiled by world autocrats, possessing dictatorial tendencies themselves. They have the same proclivity and appetite for women and do not countenance being upstaged by subalterns. They come unprepared for important public addresses, preferring to wing it. Both elicit utter blind loyalty from their base – the DDS and fist pumpers for the Deegong, and the red necks at the fringes for the Donald. Both apply unorthodox communications and message delivery mode, the Donald through his tweets and the Deegong through his spasmodic TV addresses. The similarities end here.

The Donald tells lies; it is second nature to him. And when caught in a lie, will lie some more. His threats are implausible and he is tentative in sacking people; he lets others do the firing for him.

The Deegong is too transparent to lie. He will shame personally a miscreant underling while firing him. He rarely threatens; but if the same is not taken seriously, he will kill. Or so he claims!000
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