Adam Serwer explained back in 2018 that when it comes to the Trump administration, The Cruelty Is the Point:
Trump’s only true skill is the con; his only fundamental belief is that the United States is the birthright of straight, white, Christian men, and his only real, authentic pleasure is in cruelty. It is that cruelty, and the delight it brings them, that binds his most ardent supporters to him, in shared scorn for those they hate and fear: immigrants, black voters, feminists, and treasonous white men who empathize with any of those who would steal their birthright. The president’s ability to execute that cruelty through word and deed makes them euphoric. It makes them feel good, it makes them feel proud, it makes them feel happy, it makes them feel united. And as long as he makes them feel that way, they will let him get away with anything, no matter what it costs them.
In a similar vein, the Washington Post editorializes today, The Trump administration’s cruel treatment of migrant families was intentional and calculated:
A report by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General has confirmed what was broadly obvious at the time of [the“zero tolerance”] family separation policy, as well as before and since — that the administration’s cruel treatment of migrants has been intentional, calculated and surgically effective in dispensing pain and suffering.
[Then-Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, who was explicitly carrying out the president’s own wishes, was crystal clear when he addressed federal prosecutors along the southwest border who were hesitant to carry out the policy that insisted on charging migrants criminally rather than allowing them to seek asylum in civil cases. “We need to take children away,” he told them, according to the report. His No. 2, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, was no less callous, instructing prosecutors not to worry themselves even if prosecuting parents meant preschoolers would be removed from their families and sent Mr. Sessions-knew-not-where. “Age of child doesn’t matter,” said Mr. Rosenstein, according to notes from an individual at the meeting obtained by the New York Times.
The administration’s indifference to the misery of toddlers, tweens and teens was as callous as it was premeditated. It arose from Mr. Trump’s agitation at media reports of caravans of desperate migrants making their way north from Central America.
At the direction of the White House, the operation was executed, deliberately and with forethought, as a means of deterrence — to frighten migrants so badly that they would not dare cross the border without papers.
So what if the operation’s planning took no account of providing for a bureaucratic means of tracking the children, once removed from their families, so they could be reunited eventually with their parents? Why would an administration gripped by the president’s angry exasperation trouble itself with such technical nuisances as formulating computer codes so parents and children might ascertain one another’s whereabouts? The integrity of families was beside the point; Mr. Trump’s fury was all that mattered.
Even today, more than 500 children remain separated from their families as a result of the administration’s efforts, extending back to 2017. That’s about a tenth of those taken from their parents, most of whom were deported to Central America. The number on the page is a dry statistic; it obscures immeasurable suffering. And that suffering, of course, was precisely the point.
It’s now a new day and time to turn the page.
The Washington Post reports, “President Joe Biden will roll out a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws on the day he is inaugurated, including an eight-year pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal status and an expansion of refugee admissions, along with an enforcement plan that deploys technology to patrol the border.” Biden to propose overhaul of immigration laws on first day in office:
Biden’s legislative proposal, which will be sent to Congress on Wednesday, also includes a heavy focus on addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, a key part of Biden’s foreign policy portfolio when he served as vice president.
The centerpiece of the plan from Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris is the eight-year pathway, which would put millions of qualifying immigrants in a temporary status for five years and then grant them a green card once they meet certain requirements such as a background check and payment of taxes. They would be able to apply for citizenship three years later.
To qualify, immigrants must have been in the United States as of Jan. 1, a move meant to blunt any rush to the border.
Beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) — which granted key protections for “dreamers” — and the temporary protected status program for migrants from disaster-ravaged nations could apply for a green card immediately. The details were described by transition officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The president-elect’s plan has been met with praise from pro-immigration advocates and Democratic lawmakers who have toiled to overhaul the immigration system for decades.
Republicans who have previously voted in support of immigration reform bills in the past must now choose: will they stay loyal to traitor Trump, a white nationalist insurrectionist who demonized immigrants as “others” to motivate his white racist and xenophobic base, or will Republicans cast aside this toxic traitor and do what is necessary to reform our immigration laws to maintain the United States’ reputation as a beacon of freedom to immigrants in order to attract the best and brightest to our shores as the land of opportunity?
In a significant contrast with the Obama administration — which was heavily criticized by the Latino community for not tackling immigration when Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the White House early in President Barack Obama’s tenure — Biden has made immigration his chief legislative priority behind the immediate health and economic relief stemming from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“Having leadership makes a big difference,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said in an interview Monday. “You cannot achieve immigration reform without presidential leadership, and from what I see, the seriousness of their purpose to start off with gives me a real good feeling that the president-elect is actually going to use capital to try to make this happen.”
The Biden effort would mark the most substantial attempt at a comprehensive immigration overhaul since the Senate passed legislation in 2013, only to have it collapse in the House, then controlled by Republicans, the following year.
After that collapse, pressure from Democratic lawmakers and immigration advocates pushed Obama to issue a wide-reaching effort aimed at protecting parents of U.S. citizen children and green-card holders in the country illegally, but that action promptly was blocked in the courts.
Under Trump, the GOP-controlled Senate tried to pass various revisions to U.S. immigration laws, prompted by the outgoing president’s unilateral attempt to cancel the temporary protections for the young immigrants. Trump ultimately was rebuffed by the Supreme Court on his push to end DACA.
Biden’s bill will have three overarching pillars, the transition officials said: provisions to address the causes of migration, border management and a path to citizenship.
The focus on Central America reflects the message that Biden has relayed to senior officials in the region: that he will advocate for policy changes aimed at what drives scores of migrants there to come to the United States illegally to seek safe harbor.
“Ultimately, you cannot solve problems of migration unless you attack the root causes of what causes that migration,” one official said, pointing to the various reasons — from economic to safety — that drive migrants to flee their home countries. “He knows that in particular is the case in Central America.”
Transition officials are aware of recent reports of the increased numbers of migrants at or heading to the border in anticipation of the end of Trump’s presidency, and urged them to stay in their home countries. They emphasized that newly arriving immigrants would not qualify for the legalization program that Biden proposes. [Incoming Biden administration to migrant caravan: Don’t come, you won’t get in immediately.]
Biden wants to move the refugee and asylum systems “back to a more humane and orderly process,” the official said. But “it’s also been made clear that that isn’t a switch you flip overnight from the 19th to the 20th, especially when you’re working with agencies and processes that have been so gutted by the previous administration.”
Biden hopes to reinstate a program granting minors from Central America temporary legal residence in the United States. The Trump administration terminated the program in August 2017, officials said. The administration also wants to set up a reunification program for Central American relatives of U.S. citizens that would allow those who have been already approved for U.S. residency to be admitted into the country, rather than waiting at home for an opening. The program would be similar to ones that existed for Cubans and Haitians but also were ended by the Trump administration.
The Biden proposal also would put in place a refugee admissions program at multiple processing centers abroad that would better help identify and screen those who would qualify to be admitted as refugees into the United States.
As for border enforcement, the plan calls on the Department of Homeland Security to develop a proposal that uses technology and other similar infrastructure to implement new security measures along the border, both at and between ports of entry. Biden has long vowed not to expand the border wall Trump has marginally extended.
“This is not a wall; this is not taking money from [the Department of Defense],” a transition official said, referring to how Trump helped to finance his wall after pledging Mexico would pay for it. “It’s a very different approach.”
The legislation from the Biden White House also will contain several revisions to the legal immigration process, according to transition officials.
It bolsters the number of key employment- and family-based visas available by recapturing unused visas from previous years and exempting spouses and children of green-card holders from quotas that restrict immigrants from varying countries from immediately entering the United States.
It also grants work permits for spouses and children of temporary worker visa holders, although the number of available H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers and H2-B visas for lower-skilled non-agriculture workers won’t be expanded, officials said.
Doctoral graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields also are exempted from visa limits that critics say have led to talented immigrants moving elsewhere around the globe, depriving the United States of their ingenuity.
The incoming administration has said Biden will issue a flurry of executive orders on his first day, including one that would repeal the ban on citizens of some majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States. In another potential executive action, the Biden administration plans to review temporarily protected status programs “across the board” to see which programs ended by the Trump White House — including benefits for immigrants who fled El Salvador, Nicaragua and Haiti — could be reinstated.
Transition officials declined to rule out other immigration executive actions should attempts at legislating fail, but emphasized that only Congress can implement certain changes, such as a path to citizenship.
“The president supports resources that are there, and his secretary of homeland security will use them in a smart and humane way,” another official said. “But we really need Congress to step up.”
To win passage, the administration would have to retain all Democratic votes as well as persuade at least 10 Republican senators to cross the aisle. Some proponents of the 2013 effort — such as Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — remain in the Senate, although many others have since left.
* * *
Sen. Menendez, a veteran of the 2013 immigration effort, said he believed the proposal from the incoming Biden administration was “definitely” more liberal than the compromise he helped negotiate as part of the “Gang of Eight,” which ultimately included a surge of border security resources that immigration advocates said was too draconian.
“The Biden-Harris administration is going to be strong partners in helping undo a lot of the Trump administration’s cruel and divisive immigration policy over the last four years,” he said.
In a significant departure from many previous immigration bills passed under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the proposed legislation would not contain any provisions directly linking an expansion of immigration with stepped-up enforcement and security measures, said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center and its Immigrant Justice Fund, who has been consulted on the proposal by Biden staffers.
[T]he Times has confirmed the bold opening salvo that the new administration plans in its first days doesn’t include the “security first” political concessions of past efforts.
Hincapié, who was co-chair of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force on Immigration — part of Biden’s outreach to his top primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and his progressive base — said that Biden’s decision to not prioritize additional enforcement measures was probably a result of lessons learned from the Obama administration’s failed attempt to appease Republicans by backing tighter immigration enforcement in hopes of gaining their support for immigration relief.
“This notion concerning immigration enforcement and giving Republicans everything they kept asking for … was flawed from the beginning,” she said.
* * *
Biden’s proposal lays out what would be the most sweeping and comprehensive immigration package since President Reagan’s Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted legal status to 3 million people who were in the country without documentation.
* * *
Several immigration activists who spoke with The Times praised the reported scope and scale of the bill and expressed surprise at its ambition. A number of legislators and analysts had predicted that the new administration, at least in its first months in power, would be likely to pursue immigration measures that would stir the least controversy and could be achieved by executive actions rather than legislation.
“I think this bill is going to lay an important marker in our country’s history,” said Lorella Praeli, an immigrant and longtime activist who has been talking with Biden’s staff, noting that the measure “will not seek to trade immigration relief for enforcement, and that’s huge.”
Praeli, president of Community Change Action, a progressive group based in Washington that advocates for immigrants, said “If there is a silver lining to the Trump era, it’s that it should now be clear to everyone that our system needs a massive overhaul and we can no longer lead with detention and deportation.”
* * *
Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said in an interview with The Times that he anticipates the Biden administration will present a combination of executive orders, stand-alone bills and a comprehensive immigration reform package — the building blocks of which are contained in bills already passed by the House. Among them are the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, the Homeland Security Improvement Act, the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act, the American Dream and Promise Act and the Venezuela TPS Act.
Ruiz said that now is the time to act on comprehensive immigration reform, and that a “constant barrage” of dehumanizing rhetoric against immigrants led to a rise in white supremacist backlash under the Trump administration.
“I believe that our nation has been traumatized,” Ruiz said. “We need to be able to change the narrative to heal from that, to build trust amongst communities and to tone down the hateful rhetoric from the Trump administration. And to really show — not only ourselves but the world — that America still at its core is good and will uphold our humanitarian values.”
* * *
Hincapié said Biden’s team would be able to bypass legislation to quickly make a number of administrative changes.
She expects him to announce several executive actions that would expand DACA, overturn Trump’s 2017 travel ban targeting Muslim-majority countries and rescind Trump’s public charge rule, which allowed authorities to deny green cards to immigrants who use — or whose U.S. citizen children use — food stamps or other public benefits.
[T]here are alternate venues for Democratic leadership to legalize a substantial group of people — specifically the estimated 5 million essential workers now in the country without legal status.
As part of COVID relief, the president-elect and Democratic leadership could decide to include measures offering legal status to essential workers via a process known as budget reconciliation, and that would only need 51 votes to pass the Senate.
“We are talking about potentially 5 million workers who have put their own lives on the line as essential workers,” Praeli said. “You cannot be essential and deportable.”
Now that their “Dear Leader” is in the ash heap of history, the white nationalist Fascist News Network is returning to its racist fear mongering ways. Fox Revives Their Fearmongering Over Migrant Caravans:
All that’s old is new again. Remember when Fox spent every other segment back in the run-up to the midterm elections in 2018 fearmongering over migrant caravans? They’re at it again now that we’ve got an incoming Democratic administration that wants some immigration reform.
Biden has promised to reverse much of the Trump administration’s cruel policies, but many of the agenda items will take time, and “could face an uncertain future in Congress[.]”
[N]aturally, this has been met by the typical fearmongering over on Trump TV, where they’re running segments like the one above every hour or so to distract from the Trump administration’s complete failure on managing the pandemic, and the fact that a bunch of MAGA terrorists just tried to overturn the results of the election through political violence as they stormed the capitol last week.
Here’s Fox & Friends hosts Will Cain, Jedediah Bila and Pete Hegseth after showing footage of a migrant caravan from Honduras making their way to the United States.
CAIN: You simply have to understand the power of incentive. It plays a role in every aspect of our lives in the economy, and you hear it right there. Don’t take it from us, take it from the migrant rights group Pueblo Sin, saying, right there, we recognize the importance of the incoming government’s commitment to migrants. There is a response to that kind of language and we’re seeing it form right now in Central America, Jedediah.
BILA: Yeah. I don’t know if you can blame migrants, potential migrants from seeing it any other way. You have Joe Biden essentially saying, if you try to get here we likely won’t stop you. If you do get here, we’ll likely give you a path to citizenship. It’s incentivizing that that process, no question.
I think also, with significance, with respect to Mexico is important, because he’s talking about ending that MPP program, and that was really important. That kept migrants in Mexico as the hearings played out, and that was key and pivotal during the Trump administration for preventing that catch and release, which became an enormous problem for many, many years.
So when you talk about eliminating that, when you talk about a path for citizenship, not just for dreamers, but for everyone here illegally, you’re sending a very, very clear message, and I don’t think you can blame individuals who are observing for drawing the conclusions that I think any person would draw based on what they’re seeing.
HEGSETH: Yes. You can’t blame them. You can blame our authorities, who are effectively saying our borders are open, come on in.
They’d be content to keep these people working in the shadows forever with no protections and no chance of becoming a United States citizen ever, no matter how many years our country relies on them to keep our economy churning, and for those who were brought here as babies to be deported. They loved Trump’s cruelty as long as it kept the rubes hating the right people and ignoring the ones actually doing real economic damage to their lives.
Fuck those fascists at Fox (and OAN and Newsmax). This country has been trying to reform its immigration laws since 2007 and it is always been these xenophobic and racist white nationalist Republicans yelling “amnesty,” and caravan “Invasions,” and “open borders,” and “border security” who have stood in the way of any progress. Of course, they were perfectly OK with the abject cruelty by the Trump administration.
It has always been Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) who led the obstruction in the past. Now this punk, “Tehran Tom” Cotton (R-AR) wants in on the racist fear mongering.
Let’s be clear: Joe Biden is prioritizing amnesty ahead of the pandemic or getting Americans back to work. We can’t let him get away with it.
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) January 18, 2021
Expect to hear this kind of bullshit from the GOP ad nauseam. Ronald Reagan, from beyond the grave, calls out all of you white nationalist xenophobic and racist Republicans.