The Point Is Always Cruelty – Part 27
For Trump and the GOP, the point is always cruelty. It’s now readily apparent the Trump administration’s plan from the beginning in order to deal with the influx of families at the border was to kidnap those children and permanently separate them from their families, while prosecuting the parents for illegal entry. The intent was to create enough fear among families that were considering coming to the southern border to deter them from actually doing so. A draft memo openly stated that the policy was intended to “traumatize children and intentionally create a humanitarian crisis at the border”. The policy of breaking up individual families was also intended to scare off potential US sponsors for those families.
In April, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen lied to Congress when she categorically stated on multiple occasions that there was no policy in place to separate children from their families. In fact, the policy was clearly in place when she made those statements and involved thousands more children than the original estimate the administration later provided under duress. An inspector general’s report found there were thousands more separated children than the administration’s original number of 2,737 that had been provided to the courts.
In a recent court filing, the administration basically admitted there were thousands more separated children but claimed it doesn’t have the resources to find out exactly how many children are involved and where they are. In addition, the administration also claimed that it could not legally reunite these kidnapped children with their families because “doing so would be so disruptive and harmful to the child”. This claim is laughable in that US courts are loathe to keep children separated from their families without substantial cause. As the lead lawyer for the ACLU declared, “[t]he Trump administration’s response is a shocking concession that it can’t easily find thousands of children it ripped from parents, and doesn’t even think it’s worth the time to locate each of them”.
If that isn’t bad enough, immigration detainees are now being tortured by ICE. Ten detainees at an ICE facility are on a hunger strike, protesting “rampant verbal abuse and threats of deportation from guards”. Nine of them have been on the hunger strike long enough to for ICE to begin force-feeding them under orders from a judge. One detainee described the procedure, stating “They tie us on the force-feeding bed, and then they put a lot of liquid into the tubes, and the pressure is immense so we end up vomiting it out. We can’t talk properly, and we can’t breathe properly. The pipe is not an easy process, but they try to push it down our noses and throats”. Force-feeding detainees is generally agreed by most human rights groups to be “cruel, inhuman, and degrading”. The World Medical Association considers force-feeding programs to be unethical and advises physicians to never be involved in that process in order to break a hunger strike.
In New York City, during the coldest days of the this year’s winter, detainees at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center prison were left without heat or hot water and minimal electricity. In typical fashion for the Trump administration, the Bureau of Prisons initially blatantly lied about the situation, saying “[h]eat and hot water has not been impacted” and falsely blamed the problem on Con Edison. In one of the warmer sections of the prison, the temperature reached a frigid 34 degrees and the cells themselves were reportedly even colder. After finally admitting there was a problem, the administration lied again, saying they had distributed blankets when they had no such thing. The electrical problem threatened some inmates ability to receive the drugs they required. This incident is reminiscent of South Carolina’s decision not to evacuate inmates in its prisons even as it ordered mandatory evacuations for people in the same counties predicted to be hit by Hurricane Florence. And it highlights the general abuse of prisoners which, along with their use as slave labor, actually triggered a barely covered nationwide “strike” by inmates.
For Republican and especially Trump, it is the cruelty toward minorities and others less powerful, such as women, LGBTQ, the poor, and especially prisoners, that is the entire point as it provides an illustration of the privilege of white nationalism. And the claims about the FBI’s overkill in the arrest and detention of Manafort and Stone only make that privilege even clearer.