The most ridiculous thing about Donald Trump’s xenophobic, demagogic assault on Central American amnesty seekers is that his frantic demand to build a $5 billion border wall to deny them entry to the U.S. is not his most ridiculous ploy.
Even more ridiculous is his panicky political assertion that the caravans coming north through Mexico are gangs of rapists, murderers and assorted terrorists out to slaughter and conquer us! Never mind that the migrants he demonizes are overwhelmingly women, children and peaceful families who, in fact, are fleeing the terrifying gangs, extortionists and corrupt officials who’ve turned their lives in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras into hell. But rather than greet these refugees with a policy of common compassion and long-term solutions, Trump and his fellow Republican screechers have militarized the border to shut them out, separate them from their children, incarcerate them and turn them into political pawns for Trump’s reelection campaign.
But wait — it gets more ridiculous. Crying that the three countries should simply stop these desperate families from fleeing the horrors of home, Trump has peevishly, crudely — and stupidly — cut off U.S. aid intended to battle the gang violence driving so many thousands of Central Americans from their homes. OK, Trump is entirely lacking in empathy and has no skill in the art of subtlety, but come on. How smart do you have to be to see that if you have no strategy to help mitigate the nightmarish conditions, constant fears and economic desperation of neighbors just to the south of us, you’ll have to cope with the fallout on your own doorstep?
Most ridiculous of all, though, is that we have a president with a moral compass that points only to him, directing all policies to serve his ego and political needs. Trump doesn’t really want any border solution at all, not even a wall. He wants a “crisis,” a bugaboo to foment his own political advancement no matter how many families suffer. He’s a pathetic weakling of a president, ridiculously masquerading as a “strong man.”
Let us now contemplate the morality tale of the Good Samaritan. Not the one described in the Old Testament, but the one out in the high desert region around Marfa, Texas, just 60 miles from the Mexican border.
It’s the story of Teresa Todd, who serves as city attorney in Marfa. On Feb. 27, she was driving to her home outside of town after a city hall meeting when suddenly, from out of the dark, three young Central American migrants on the side of the road desperately flagged her down. She could’ve just sped on, but the bedraggled migrants — two brothers and their sister — looked about the same age as Todd’s own teenage boys, so she instinctively turned around and went back. As she later told a New York Times reporter, “I can’t leave a kid on the side of the road.”
Forced from their home by gang threats, the three refugees had become lost in the Texas desert, had run out of food and water, and the sister had fallen deathly ill. Putting them in her car, Todd was frantically contacting friends and authorities to get medical help when — luckily — a sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind them with lights flashing. Ah, rescue!
But — unluckily — the deputy was not there to help. He called the Border Patrol and turned the young refugees over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The officers confiscated Todd’s purse, arrested her for suspicion of “transporting illegal aliens,” hauled her to a holding cell and later got a search warrant to seize her phone, which they held for nearly two months. “It was totally surreal,” she said. It still is. Even though she’s not been formally charged, federal officials say the incident remains “an active case,” and they’re still contemplating criminal charges against her.
“This is all about trying to chill the willingness of people to help others,” Todd says. “I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help.” During her ordeal, she says she kept thinking: “What country am I in? This is not the United States.”
No, indeed, it’s Donald Trump’s un-American, disunited state of autocracy. We need to build a wall around him.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.
IMAGE: A U.S. Border Patrol agent (C) looks on as people separated by immigration wait to see their relatives at an open gate on the fence along the Mexico and U.S border, as photographed from Tijuana, Mexico February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes