September 21, 2022

So Governor Abbott grabs human beings — mothers and children, who have already suffered horrific ordeals fleeing nightmares in places like Venezuela — and puts them on a grueling two-day bus trip from Texas to New York. Governor DeSantis uses Florida taxpayer money to fly ones never even in Florida to an isolated island. Both cynically tormenting unfortunate human beings as political pawns. Both luring them with lies.

Like the Nazis did when putting Jews in cattle cars.

But what fools those Republican governors are, seeking brownie points for cruelty when the standard was set by Trump confiscating children from parents at the border. In comparison, the Abbott and DeSantis atrocities are chickenshit.

They thought they’d “own the libs” and show them up as hypocrites. Instead, blessedly, people in the destination places have stepped up and welcomed the refugees with compassion and help. Acting like human beings, toward fellow human beings.

Unlike Republicans who cheer Abbott and DeSantis. Actually not even most Republicans are that callous. Those governors are playing to the worst of the worst. Sad and sick.

And by the way, their victims are not “illegal immigrants.” Under international law, refugees fleeing peril have a right to cross a border to seek asylum. In fact, they can’t request asylum unless they’ve done that. And we have a legal obligation to receive them.

The New York State Writers Institute’s recent Albany book festival featured an immigration panel. One panelist, Jason Riley, a Black “conservative” from the right-wing Manhattan Institute, had written a book shredding every Trumpist anti-immigration trope. Riley virtually quoted my own past blogging, saying that economic migrants are self-selected for enterprise, grit, and gumption: “I want them here.”

The point was driven home by another panelist, Susan Hartman, who studied Utica. A classic rustbelt town, hollowing out, dying. Until Utica made a decision to go big for refugees. And that influx of refugees gave Utica rebirth.

Another panelist was Rosayra Pablo Cruz, whose husband was murdered in Guatemala. With her two children, she fled north and made it to America in 2018 — where her kids were taken away by Trump’s policy. A months-long effort, with activist help, managed to reunite them. Rosy is now a contributing member of American society. Even served as head of her local PTA! And wrote an acclaimed book about it all.

I want Rosy here too.

The right keeps saying they’re all for legal immigration, while bashing the Biden administration for border chaos. The border mess really goes back to Trump — whose policy of deliberate cruelty simply did not work, to keep people away. It’s true the current administration has not got to grips with this; the issue’s political fraughtness, with Republicans screeching “open borders” at them, makes Democrats squeamish. We desperately need Congressional legislation, with no chance of getting it, to sort out this mess.

It’s all well and good to intone about legal immigration, getting in line, doing it the right way, etc. But the reality, as Jason Riley pointed out, is that our legal immigration system pretty much now exists only on paper. With the bureaucracy bogged down, and encrusted with Trump-added restrictions and monkey-wrenches, in practice the legal route to America is almost impossible to travel.

Making that statue in New York harbor look like a fraud.

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