America Drew a Line Trump Could Not Keep Crossing

Greenville        After eighteen months in office there are many of us who wondered if America was ever going to finally draw a line that told President Trump that he had gone too far.  Was there going to finally be a point where America forced President Trump to look past his own nose and self-interest and learn something about fundamental national values?  Was he finally going to have to learn that hard problems require hard work to solve rather than boasting and bullying, fussing and fuming?  Well, we may not like the answer to these questions, but we seem to have found them in his total capitulation over the issue of family separation and child incarceration of immigrants on the border.  The heartbreak and trauma of families being torn apart and children weeping created a firewall that stopped Trump and his heavy breathers from Attorney General Session on down to the rest of the gang.  We all need to take note and remember this lesson, just as Trump is being forced to do.  It could be important on many other issues around health and housing for example.

The Trump beatdown was total.  After weeks of claiming an executive order wouldn’t solve this crisis, even though his orders had initiated the crisis, he issued an executive order.  After weeks of falsely blaming the Democrats and saying only Congress could take action, he had to eat his words. backdown and face reality.  He and his people were swamped by a tsunami of popular, institutional, corporate, and political opposition.

Members of his own party rebelled.  Evangelicals and other religious denominations from the Pope down to the storefront churches rebelled, hurling back the hundreds of Bible verses protecting families to the few that Sessions and the head of ICE used to defend Cesar’s renderings in law.  Houston said it didn’t want a children’s detention center built in its city.  New York State said it didn’t want separated children sent to the state.  All four living first ladies condemned the policy.  There was conflict within the Fox family over its slanted news on the border.  Microsoft workers protested contracts with ICE.  The United Nations correctly claimed Trump’s actions were a human rights violation.  Mr. Trump meet America drawing a line.

Is this over?  Can anyone claim victory?  No, not yet.

No one in the administration knows the status of reunifying the 2300 children now in custody, and some in the administration are trying to argue they will be kept in detention, which will increase the political heat.  The federal judge’s order limits children being held to a maximum of twenty days, while Trump’s order wants to hold families in detention indefinitely.  Few believe the judge will budge.  No one has a clue where or how families will be detained.  There is seemingly no consensus in Congress.  A Senate bill would end family separation, while there are competing bills in the House that both lack the votes to pass.

This is a hot potato that no one wants to touch, and the fight – and damage to Trump and his party – is going to continue until there are real solutions, none of which seem to be anywhere near the hardline policy the president and his people want.

America may be teaching Trump exactly what a hard line really is, and we’re drawing it now.

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Fear of Immigrants and Others is a Global Political Monkeywrench

Riots police separate pro and anti immigration demonstrators as a man waves a flag reading "Islamists Not Welcome" during a Pegida demonstration in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Feb. 6, 2016.
Riots police separate pro and anti immigration demonstrators as a man waves a flag reading “Islamists Not Welcome” during a Pegida demonstration in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Feb. 6, 2016. VOAnews.com

Hamburg   Meeting with people in the Netherlands and Germany, conversation quickly comes to the Clinton-Trump race. People want to be reassured that Trump really can’t win. They don’t want to hear that the vote will be close, even though Clinton will win in the Electoral College. Interestingly with all the brouhaha that Trump has stirred up over closing borders, building walls, blocking entry to Muslims, and deporting millions, no one asks about the issue, mainly because these are issues too worrisomely close to home for them as well.

In Holland, a xenophobic, anti-immigrant leader has risen and created a “party of one” largely on this platform. Though he may not have much of a party, he clearly has a base. Political experts believe that he is taking votes way from the Social Democrats, long the dominate party of unions and some of the left. The Social Democrats are in a free fall for many reasons including the compromises they have made on healthcare and other issues as part of the ruling coalition government, but a piece of the problem, similar to the challenge for the Democrats in the United States is anger and desertion of some older, working class voting segments reacting to the anti-immigrant campaigning.

In Germany where Chancellor Angela Merkel a year ago during a humanitarian crisis opened Germany’s borders to one-million migrants largely from the war-torn Middle East and Syria, there has clearly been a political backlash over whether or not German standards of living and services are being compromised by these migrants. An upcoming election in Merkel’s home state is being watched closely to see whether her center-right governing party has been able to re-position itself with voters by implementing agreements to hold more of the immigrants in Turkey. Merkel is not retreating from her conviction that Germans “can do this,” but she is equally clear in recently reported interviews that she cannot lead along this path for another year, as she has for the last year. Her party in the state elections is busily echoing rightwing themes of homeland and security as it scurries about trying to hold onto its base. A new anti-immigrant party is expected to take votes away from Merkel’s Christian Democrats as well as the more progressive Social Democrats.

And, what in the world is this urkini thing about in France? Courts there have overruled local municipalities over their burkini banning, but reports are indicating that the activity, right down to having police stop Muslim women on the beach and make them disassemble their outfits, were very popular with the general French public. The rightwing, anti-immigrant party there did not fare as well as they had hoped in recent elections, but continues to be a serious force nationally.

Country to country immigration, migrants, and refugees are divisive political issues. Muslim women in particular are reporting worldwide that they are being viewed differently and worse than in the past. Discrimination in large and small ways is increasing.

Today there are no hard questions for an American traveler on immigration, because embarrassingly, too many progressives and others are fearing that politically we may be more united by hate that any other national value. Everyone is living in glass houses now, so no one is throwing stones, and fewer and fewer are leaving their doors open.

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