Author Archive | Partisan

The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Do U Care?

By Lena Felton

-Written by Lena Felton (@lenakfelton) and Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • First lady Melania Trump made an unexpected visit to McAllen, Texas, to “see what’s real” on the U.S.-Mexico border, according to her spokeswoman. But it wasn’t just her surprise travel plans that generated buzz—photographers also captured her boarding the plane wearing a jacket that read, in white letters, “I don’t really care. Do U?”

  • The Washington Post reported that the U.S. Border Patrol will no longer refer immigrant parents who enter the United States illegally with children for prosecution. The Justice Department, which decides whether or not to prosecute, said its “zero tolerance” policy remains in effect.

  • Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the House will postpone a vote on its so-called “compromise” immigration bill until Friday. Shortly after, the House rejected a conservative immigration bill authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte.

  • The House narrowly passed its farm bill, which imposes stricter work requirements on millions of food-stamp recipients, in a 213–211 vote.

  • The Supreme Court ruled that states can collect taxes from online retailers that aren’t physically located in the states themselves.

Today on The Atlantic


How Some Immigrant Families Are Avoiding Separation

By Russell Berman

MCALLEN, Tex.—Angel Bonilla spent eight days in an immigrant-detention facility with his five-month-old daughter, Selene Alanis, after trekking for nearly a month through Mexico from his home in Honduras. Like so many others, he was caught by the Border Patrol crossing the Rio Grande in a raft. Right now, they’re in McAllen. Soon, they’ll be on their way to Dallas, where Bonilla will stay with friends while awaiting a court hearing that could result in his deportation back to Honduras.

In McAllen these days, Bonilla counts as a lucky one. He was not separated from his infant daughter, nor did the federal government charge him with the crime of illegal entry into the United States. When he shows up at court next month, he may receive asylum and be allowed to stay.

Bonilla, 43, was one of several dozen immigrants who arrived at the Catholic Charities Humanitarian Respite Center on Wednesday afternoon. The shelter is a way station of sorts for the roughly 75 to 100 undocumented immigrants who manage to slip through the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy on a daily basis. After releasing them from the cavernous Border Patrol Processing Center in McAllen, ICE deposits these immigrants at the nearby bus station, where Catholic Charities volunteers escort them in vans to the respite center.

They are nearly all families who have been allowed to stay in the U.S. at least temporarily and proceed to points north to await deportation hearings. They arrive at the shelter usually tired and hungry, carrying plastic bags with their belongings and tan folders that contain their paperwork. Unlike Bonilla and his daughter, many of the families at the respite center were separated during their detention before being reunited upon their release. That they make it out of detention at all is evidence that, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump’s Katrina Moment

By Mallika Rao

Some years ago, I met via fellowship a group of journalists from countries where the fates of citizens hinge on choices out of Washington: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. The idea was to get to know one another and our worlds, and so one afternoon we heard from an expert on federalism. “Americans,” he told us, looking mostly at the foreigners, “don’t care about foreign policy. They care about domestic policy.” This idea seemed to jolt my peers, one of whom, from Kabul, asked me to explain. I found myself talking about the link between distance and imagination—how when you are far from something, a person, place, feeling, drone in the sky, bloodied body or crying child—you can feel okay about failing to do the basic work of imagining the reality of the people affected.

Imaginative power also explains the intensity of Americans’ reaction to what is happening on the border of their country right now. The thousand-plus children cut from the touch and presence of their parents since May of this year join a line of kids changed by American policy, under so many presidents. Only this tragedy has gears shifting: an op-ed by former First Lady Laura Bush and petitions from Christian leaders, mental-health experts, and Republican operatives. The current president may excel at getting away with murder, but even he seems stumped at how to distract us from the goings-on at the border (his freshly signed executive order, vague as it is, feels more a gesture toward distraction than a solution).

“I thought about that myself,” said the scholar Douglas Brinkley, a few days ago, when I reached him by phone. I’d put to him a thought that the border crisis seems poised to leave a mark out of a long line of stains that haven’t quite set, just as George …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Radio Atlantic: The View from the Border

By Kevin Townsend

Social media is awash with images of undocumented migrants held in cages, sounds of children crying for their parents, and viral videos of a callous administration response. On Wednesday, President Trump caved to immense political pressure and signed an executive order meant to end family separation at the border. But what effect will it actually have?

Video producer Jeremy Raff has been in McAllen, Texas, attending ‘mass trials’ of immigrants — many of whom have been separated from their children with no certainty on when, or if, they will be reunited. Raff shares what’s happening along the border, then staff writer Priscilla Alvarez joins to discuss what the news in Washington means for separated families.


“Purgatory at the Border” (Jeremy Raff, June 19, 2018)
“‘So What? Maybe It Is a Concentration Camp'” (Jeremy Raff, February 23, 2018)
“Extinguishing the Beacon of America” (Alex Wagner, June 15, 2018)
“Trump Says He Will End the Family Separations He Imposed” (David A. Graham, June 20, 2018)

…read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="Radio Atlantic: The View from the Border” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Melania Trump Plays the Role of Medieval Queen

By Sonja Drimmer

On June 17, First Lady Melania Trump issued a rare statement on current policy through her spokesperson. That statement lamented the separation of refugee children from their parents by the Department of Homeland Security and declared that America should be “a country that governs with heart.” And when, on Wednesday, her husband reversed his policy, White House aides rushed to credit her intervention. “From the start Mrs. Trump has been encouraging the president to do all he can to keep families together,” one official told The Washington Post.

For Melania to emerge from her customary position on the sidelines to play a critical role in reversing a major policy initiative might seem a perplexing event. But for a historian of the Middle Ages, it is part of an instantly recognizable pattern.

A near-constant in late medieval kingship was the use of the queen as intercessor. Women were conventionally ascribed softer hearts, and subjects were encouraged to appeal to the queen for mercy. The template for this role was the Virgin Mary—the paragon of intercession among medieval Christians—who was believed to sit, enthroned in heaven, at the side of her son Christ, able and willing to make appeals to him on behalf of suffering or desperate devotees. Medieval art and medieval texts customarily liken queens to the Virgin Mary, especially in the role of intercessor.

The queen was called upon to play this role habitually during times of political crisis. For example, in 1450, after a popular revolt known as Cade’s Rebellion, King Henry VI sought to end a disastrous event in his reign initially by extending a pardon to its participants. But the pardons might have made him look weak. So, in the preamble to the text of the pardon, he claimed to have been moved to this gesture of clemency …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How Will Detained Children Find Their Parents?

By Priscilla Alvarez

More than 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border in the five weeks since the Trump administration announced it was implementing a “zero tolerance” immigration policy—and it’s still not clear how, or when, those children might be reunited with their parents.

On Wednesday, amid mounting pressure to end the policy, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that he said would keep families together, but it’s unclear what will become of the thousands of young people the U.S. government has detained since last month.

Federal officials have few answers.

“We’re still working through the experience of reunifying kids with their parents after adjudication,” said Steve Wagner, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services, in a press call Tuesday. He pointed out that the policy was still “relatively new,” and acknowledged that despite the agency’s preference for reuniting detained children with their parents, officials were also working on “identifying alternative sponsors” if reunification isn’t possible.

John Sandweg, a former acting director of ICE, told me it’s entirely possible that children and parents will remain permanently separated. Not only could a parent and a child be deported at different times—sometimes years apart—but the passage of time and complexity of geographic distance make it difficult for parents outside of the United States to locate their children. For families who do eventually find one another, reunification will likely take time. “In a significant number of the cases, the child ends up in foster care,” Sandweg said. “Frankly, it can take weeks for HHS to locate a family member as well. The younger the kid is, the harder that is.”

The bureaucratic and political chaos of this moment stems from a federal policy, announced last month by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to criminally prosecute anyone …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The GOP’s Immigration Gamble

By Ronald Brownstein

With his policy of systematically separating children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, Donald Trump finally extended his racially infused economic nationalism to a point that a critical mass of elected Republicans could not follow.

But the fact that many Republicans drew the line only at a policy that experts have likened to child abuse is a powerful measure of how far Trump has already bent the party toward his “America First” vision, particularly on immigration. Even after Trump tried to alleviate the backlash over the policy on Wednesday, the larger question is whether the opposition he provoked represents just a solitary speed bump in his reconfiguration of the GOP around nationalist themes, or the beginning of a broader pushback.

Today, the smart money would bet on speed bump.

In office, Trump has offered a straightforward trade to the Republican Party that preexisted his rise. He has advanced, to a greater degree than many expected, the traditional Republican goals of cutting taxes and spending, retrenching regulation, and appointing conservative judges. In return, he has demanded acquiescence for his turn toward nativism on immigration, protectionism on trade, and unilateralism and isolationism in America’s international relations. But in doing so, Republicans risk narrowing the party’s appeal to the younger and more educated elements of the electorate.

With several polls this week showing that roughly two-thirds of Americans oppose Trump’s family separation policy and images of distraught children dominating television, many congressional Republicans were openly seeking a way out. But, by any reasonable standard, Capitol Hill Republicans marched themselves into this quagmire by either actively endorsing, or failing to effectively resist, almost every earlier step Trump has taken to redefine the party around his insular nationalism.  

On trade, that became clear when traditionally free-trading congressional Republicans meekly acquiesced to Trump’s abandonment …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How America Treats Its Own Children

By Annie Lowrey

How could the United States do this? How could it separate 2,000 children from their parents, perhaps never to be reunited? How could it lose track of thousands more? How could it keep children in cages, in tents, in camps? This is a country that has assimilated wave after wave of immigrants and refugees, so that children might have a better life than their parents. This is the wealthiest civilization that the world has ever known, one with a bipartisan commitment to equality of opportunity for all—especially kids. This is a country that spends more on education, health care, and defense than any other.

And yet.

This is a country that professes to care about children at their youngest and most fragile. But here, 28 women out of every 100,000 live births die in childbirth or shortly thereafter, compared with 11 in Canada. This ratio has more than doubled since 1990, despite the medical advances made in those decades, where it has gone down in other high-income countries. Black women are three times as likely to die giving birth or shortly after birth as white women. Black women in the United States die having a child at roughly the same rate as women in Mongolia.

It is a country that professes to care for babies. But in the United States, the infant death rate is twice as high as in in similarly wealthy countries. Premature birth and low birth-weight are common ailments, with life-long and even intergenerational effects.

This is a country that attempts to support low-income mothers with tax benefits, food stamps, health insurance, and the Women, Infants, and Children program. Still, it spends less of its gross domestic product on family benefits than all other OECD countries, save for Mexico and Turkey, which are far, …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: A Sign of the Times

By Lena Felton

-Written by Lena Felton (@lenakfelton) and Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump signed an executive order he said would end his administration’s policy of separating families at the border, but it could face court challenges over portions that direct the Department of Homeland Security to hold families indefinitely.

  • Republican lawmakers still plan to vote on two immigration bills tomorrow.

  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, resigned from his post as deputy finance chair of the Republican National Committee’s Finance Committee, citing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation.

  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly approved a plan to spend $80 million to boost Democratic candidates in the 2018 midterm elections.

  • Trump will hold a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, starting at 7:30 p.m. ET to support Republican congressional candidate Pete Stauber, who is running in a highly contested district.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Trumpism, Realized: Trump’s policy of separating families at the border “has roused the ghosts that haunt America”—and it will go down in history alongside them as one of the most shameful episodes in the country’s history. (Adam Serwer)

  • Enforce the Border, Humanely: David Frum argues that while Trump’s policies and rhetoric are brutish, his opponents’ reactionary extremism is also standing in the way of rational, lawful immigration control.

  • An Exceptional Cruelty: Many staffers at immigrant shelters are prohibited or prevented from hugging or touching the children there. Here’s why those rules could be harmful. (Ashley Fetters)


President Trump speaks in a Cabinet meeting at the White House on immigration policy. Evan Vucci / AP

What We’re Reading

Have Questions About the Family-Separation Policy?: Here are some answers. (Seung Min Kim, The Washington Post)

The Think Tank Stocking the Trump Administration: Back in 2014, the Heritage Foundation created a database of more than 3,000 conservatives …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: A Sign of the Times” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Trump Says He Will End the Family Separations He Imposed

By David A. Graham

Seeking to quell one of the most volatile political tempests of his stormy presidency, Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will sign an executive order intended to end the separation of children from parents arrested illegally entering the United States by directing that youths be held with adults.

“We have to be very strong on the border but at the same time we want to be very compassionate,” he said at the White House.

The administration has not yet released the text, nor has Trump signed it, and the president is known for mercurial changes of heart. But the outlines of the executive order as they have been described to reporters raise a passel of new questions, including why the president has been adamant that only Congress could fix the problem. It appears likely that the order would violate a 1997 government agreement not to hold immigrant children, meaning that in the name of enforcing the law the White House could be breaking it. The directive might also paralyze efforts in Congress to end separations.

The current drama began in May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that under a new policy, all adults caught crossing the border would be held for criminal prosecution. Under a 1997 court settlement called the Flores agreement, however, children must be kept in the least-restrictive setting possible, effectively barring incarceration of children alongside their parents. As a result, the Trump administration has separated families. The change was an example of prosecutorial discretion: Previous administrations for the most part declined to criminally prosecute first-time border crossers; the Trump administration made the opposite decision, which was legal but, it turned out, politically perilous.

The order is Trump’s latest move in a zig-zag of often contradictory messages. Initially, and for some time afterward, he falsely claimed that …read more

Via:: The Atlantic