Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) in PM magazine, 1941. (Here is some context).
Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) in PM magazine, 1941. (Here is some context).
Here is the official statement:
“As evangelical Christians, we believe that all people — regardless of their country of origin or legal status — are made in the image of God and should be treated with dignity and respect. Overcrowded and unsanitary conditions are inappropriate for anyone in detention, but particularly for children, who are uniquely vulnerable. Jesus reserves some of his strongest words of judgment for those who subject children to harm,” the leaders say in the letter, which was organized by the Evangelical Immigration Table.
Evangelicals are welcome to add their names to the letter here.
In the letter, evangelical leaders ask the administration and Congress to:
Several weeks ago, I was invited by White House staff to visit our southern border at McAllen, Texas, where federal agents are struggling to deal with a massive influx of poor and destitute human beings. They come in never-ending waves. Please believe me when I tell you that the media and leftist politicians have not been truthful about what is going on there. It is a human tragedy.
I promised the exhausted U.S. Custom and Border Patrol agents that I would go home and tell as many people as possible what I had seen “up close and personal.” Today, I am attempting to fulfill that commitment.
Approximately 5,500 people show up every day in districts organized along our southern U.S. border. McAllen is the site of only one of them, but it is the busiest and most besieged. The “refugees” arrive exhausted and ragged from walking hundreds of miles. Among them are large numbers of children, many of whom are unaccompanied by a caring adult. Last year, 382,000 aliens were apprehended for illegally crossing into this country and almost 100,000 of them were minors. Some of the kids have been abused along the way. Many of them carry lice, scabies or other diseases. Currently, the facility I visited is experiencing a flu epidemic, and there are no additional beds on which to lie. Some of the women have been raped. More than 70 people of all ages are sent to local hospitals daily along the southern border. Doctors and medical staff are overwhelmed by their patient load. Remember that word, “overwhelmed.” It describes every aspect of the effort to deal with the situation there.
The most heart-wrenching experience occurred during our tour of the holding area. It is a huge gym-like building consisting of dozens of fenced-in areas. Each one is crowded with detainees standing or sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on benches. They stared out at us with plaintive eyes.
I noticed that almost none of them were talking to each other. The children looked traumatized and frightened. Tears flooded my eyes as I stood before them. They had no toys or dolls, except for a few items bought by compassionate border patrol agents. One tiny little girl clutched something that resembled a doll bought for her by an agent. There are few provisions made to accommodate the children. The week before we were there, a delegation of agents went to meet with members of Congress, and begged them for additional money to buy Pampers, toothbrushes, and other necessities. They were turned down flat. These meager supplies have to be purchased with the border patrol budget, which is stretched to the limit.
I then walked up to a fenced area holding many skinny young men. An agent standing beside me asked if I would like to speak to them. He offered to translate for me, to which I replied, “Please tell them that God loves them.” Then I said, “Now tell them that I love them, too.” They smiled and waved timidly.
My heart aches for these poor people. Lest I be misunderstood, let me make clear that I am among the majority of Americans who want the border to be closed to those who attempt to enter illegally. There has to be a better solution than this. I have wondered, with you, why the authorities don’t just deny these refugees access to this nation. Can’t we just send them back to their places of origin? The answer I received was “No,” for reasons I will explain.
Only 10 percent of the detainees are Mexicans. This year alone, people have come to our southern border from 127 countries, including Bangladesh, Pakistan, Turkey, India, China, Palestine, Albania, San Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and other nations around the world. They speak their native tongues, which means they can’t be understood by each other or the staff. What are we to do with them? The Mexican government will not take them back, and there is no place to send them. Our current laws do not permit us to repatriate them to their country of origin. This is a disaster with no solution or projected conclusion.
Let me tell you how these desperate people come to be our responsibility. They are the lowest rung of many societies. They sell their shanties and any other possessions to scrape together $3,500 to $10,000 to pay “coyotes” to guide them. I don’t know what happens to those who can’t meet this demand. Apparently, most manage to pay the fee, and arrive penniless and profoundly needy. I was told that some of the vulnerable children are “recycled” repeatedly to help men gain entry to this country. An unknown number of these men are hardened criminals and drug runners, and they are difficult to identify. Most make their way across the border.
Here’s something else you should know. I have been under the impression that these would-be immigrants try to cross the Rio Grande River and outrun or evade the agents. That is not true of most. They come in large groups, from 100 to 400 people at a time. As I write this letter, a record 1,200 people arrived together at El Paso. The refugees quickly give themselves up to agents. That is why they have made this journey. They know they will be fed, medicated, and treated humanely, even if they are in holding areas while they are in our custody. Then they will be released on American soil. This is the system set up by a liberal Congress and judges. It is a well-known fact that President Obama’s administration established many of these unworkable policies, and Congress is steadfastly unwilling to change them. Every effort at reform has been overridden or ignored. It is set in stone. Democrats want massive numbers of immigrants who will someday become voters. Some Republicans support the policies because they want cheap labor for agricultural purposes. The border could be fixed, but there are very few in authority who seem to care.
Getting back to my story, our group of national faith leaders and humanitarian organizations was taken to a grassy park underneath the international bridges where the “coyotes” bring the refugees. We stood 50 feet away from them and watched as about 200 people sat on the ground. Then buses arrived to transport them to Border Control. Agents have to work fast because another group will be showing up soon, and then another and another. The would-be immigrants are taken to the center and given cursory medical exams. Then they are segregated by sex and age and placed in the fenced-in areas to be held for the next 20 days until they are processed and given a Notice to Appear. If that sounds inhumane, what would you or I do? There is simply no other place to “house” them.
Mismanagement of the border has a long history. A federal judge years ago issued a ruling called the Flores Settlement Agreement. It is still the source of many problems. It requires that any unaccompanied alien child must be released within 72 hours. This is now the law of the land, and poor people around the world know it. A single male typically seeks to find a child and a woman to help him “game the system.” Clearly, many of these are “fake families,” but there is no documentation in Pakistani or Bangladesh to challenge their claims. Lawyers at home have told them to claim that they are fleeing from oppression or seeking asylum. They are allowed to plead their cases to judges, but there are too few of them to keep up with the volume. These people are given a court case and released. The vast majority are never seen again. Most then become “anchor babies” who are citizens with rights to bring members of their families. Others are given transportation to an American city where they disappear into the culture.
In addition to this influx of people from places around the world steeped in poverty and despair, Senator Chuck Schumer authored and helped pass a “lottery” system, whereby winners are brought to the United States. They become permanent residents, who then begin bringing their families to our shores. Thank you, Senator.
Ten years ago, 90 percent of illegals apprehended at the border were single males, mainly from Mexico. Now, more than 50 percent show up with babies and children, and 90 percent of them are from countries other than Mexico with 64 percent being family units or unaccompanied alien children. Together, they claim to be “families” and within three weeks, they will be home free in America. Is there any doubt why there have been more than half a million illegal immigrants this year alone?
Before I conclude, I must tell you about the agents who have to deal with this chaos. They are compassionate men and women, sworn to uphold federal law and protect our borders.
They obviously care about the detainees, and I respect them highly. They work tirelessly feeding people three times a day and providing clean clothing. They must also maintain the portable toilets in the cells. It is a never-ending task. There are only two large showers in the facility, one for males, the other for females. Their capacity is for only 20 people at a time, which is insufficient.
The border patrol agents administer this program, but most of them didn’t sign up to be caregivers. Agents were trained to patrol the border and apprehend drug runners, traffickers, smugglers, murderers, and every kind of lawbreaker. This is very dangerous work. But, please understand this: the border patrol agents are so busy caring for refugees seeking entry to the United States that they have very little time to police the borders. It is so porous that huge quantities of contraband, including all kinds of narcotics, flow into this country every day. Then it is transported northward to America’s cities to be consumed by adolescents and millennials. Lawless gangs, such as MS-13, are also pouring into the culture, making violence for inner cities a way of life.
There is one more aspect to the work of the agents that you should know. They are openly hated by citizens who resent the work they do. They are routinely vilified and mocked and demonized. Their families are also subjected to ridicule. These agents need our appreciation and prayers. They have one of the most thankless jobs in America.
The situation I have described is the reason President Donald Trump’s border wall is so urgently needed. He seems to be the only leader in America who comprehends this tragedy and is willing to address it. Those who oppose him do everything they can to impede his effort. That is why I went to the border to see the situation for myself. I came away with an array of intense emotions. First, I was profoundly grieved over the misery of thousands of people. Second, I felt a deep appreciation for those who are doing their best to help in an impossible circumstance. Third, and frankly, I was angry at the political fat cats who have deliberately allowed this chaos to occur for political or financial gain. They, and their friends in the fake media, have told the American people that there is no crisis at the border! Shame on them all.
What I’ve told you is only a glimpse of what is occurring on the nation’s border. I don’t know what it will take to change the circumstances. I can only report that without an overhaul of the law and the allocation of resources, millions of illegal immigrants will continue flooding to this great land from around the world. Many of them have no marketable skills. They are illiterate and unhealthy. Some are violent criminals. Their numbers will soon overwhelm the culture as we have known it, and it could bankrupt the nation. America has been a wonderfully generous and caring country since its founding. That is our Christian nature. But in this instance, we have met a worldwide wave of poverty that will take us down if we don’t deal with it. And it won’t take long for the inevitable consequences to happen.
Thanks for letting me set the record straight.
Here are some thoughts:
1. James Dobson saw what is happening at the border and he believes that what he saw was immoral. This separates Dobson from some other court evangelicals and “family values” advocates who think that there is no crisis of human dignity at the border.
This is a very inaccurate report! I’ve been to the border and seen the great work our Border Agents are doing along with churches like ours which are ministering in Jesus Name. Extremely disappointing @dmoore https://t.co/LZ6WQnQP3F
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) June 25, 2019
2. When Dobson says “thank you” to Chuck Schumer for his lottery system I can’t tell if he is being serious or sarcastic.
3. Essentially, Dobson says that we must treat these refugees with Christian love. He even told a group of detained men that Jesus loves them. Then, several paragraphs later, he concludes that the building of Trump’s wall is the only way to solve this crisis. I must admit, the early paragraphs of Dobson’s letter surprised me. He seems to show real Christian compassion. But then I got to the end of the letter only to find that his Christian compassion got hijacked by his nationalism. We love you. God loves you. But you can’t come into our country. Sorry.
Don’t get me wrong, we have a humanitarian crisis at the border. But Trump and the politicians have failed to offer creative solutions for how to fix it. Instead, they just blame their political opponents. I am no expert, but there must be a way to balance compassion and security.
4. At the end of the letter, Dobson takes a really ugly turns toward nativism. He says that these refugees and immigrants are unskilled, illiterate, unhealthy, and violent. He adds that they will soon “overwhelm the culture as we have known it.” He makes an appeal to history: the United States has always been a generous, caring, and Christian country, but in this instance (italics mine) we have met a worldwide wave of poverty that will take us down….”
I italicized the words “in this instance” because Dobson makes it sounds as if Americans have been warm and fuzzy toward newcomers in the past, but this instance is different. These immigrants, he suggests, are a serious threat to American culture. Dobson shows his ignorance of American history here. Historically, this kind of nativism arises whenever people fear immigrants and they demographic change they bring to the country. I have offered a few examples of this below. Read these quotes carefully and notice how the rhetoric is nearly identical to the language Dobson uses in his letter.
In a May 9, 1753 letter to Peter Collinson, Benjamin Franklin described German immigrants as “the most ignorant Stupid Sort of their own Nation.” He did not believe that they could assimilate to our political culture, saying that since they are “not…used to Liberty, they know not how to make a modest use of it.” He worried that these Germans were coming to America “in droves.” (Notice Dobson’s use of the word “flooding” to describe refugees). Franklin concludes: “in short unless the stream of their importation could be turned from this to other colonies…they will soon so out number us , that all the advantages we have will not in My Opinion be able to preserve our [English] language, and even our Government will become precarious.”
In Franklin’s Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind (1751) he writes: “Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.”‘
In his 1835 speech, “A Plea for the West,” evangelical preacher and reformer Lyman Beecher warned against the “danger from the uneducated mind [that] is augmenting daily by the rapid influx of foreign emigrants, unacquainted with our institutions, unaccustomed to self-government, inaccessible to education, and easily accessible to prepossession, and inveterate credulity, and intrigue, and easily embodied and wielded by sinister design.” He added, “In the beginning this eruption of revolutionary Europe was not anticipated, and we opened our doors wide to the influx and naturalization of foreigners. But it is become a terrific inundation; it has increased upon our native population from five to thirty-seven percent, and is every year advancing….” Notice Beecher’s argument here. We have always welcomed immigrants, but this instance (the influx of Irish Catholic immigrants) is different.
Here is nativist Frederick Saunders in 1856: “The foreign voters, who are proved to be ignorant and in every incompetent, are admitted to the enjoyment of the electoral franchise. We, who never knew what a blind and passive obedience to law is, can form no adequate idea of the recklessness and delirium which seize hold of so many foreign immigrants the moment they put foot upon our shores. We admit that some of them are men of intellectual culture, while it will not be denied that too many are persons of the most degraded character, and destitute even of the most meager attainments….” When I read this quote about Irish immigrants I thought about Dobson’s remarks about these immigrants voting for Democrats and their lack of education.
Here is Texas congressman John Box in 1928: “The admission of large and increasing number of Mexican peons to engage in all kinds of work is at variance with the American purpose to protect the wages of its working people and maintain their standard of living. Mexican labor is not free; it is not well paid; its standard of living is low….To keep out the illiterate and the diseased is another essential part of the Nation’s immigration policy. The Mexican peons are illiterate and ignorant. Because of their unsanitary habits and living conditions and their vices they are especially subject to smallpox, venereal diseases, tuberculosis, and other dangerous contagions.”
Of course my own people (on my father’s side), the Italian immigrants who arrived to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, were also considered unclean, smelly, illiterate, unskilled, and violent.
There is nothing new about Dobson’s words here. He is not only echoing his president, but he is also echoing some of the darker moments of American history.
Over the past year or so I have been calling attention to the ways the Trump administration has exposed a deepening divide in white American evangelicalism.
Back in July 17, 2017, in the Washington Post piece that introduced the phrase “court evangelicals” to a national audience, I wrote:
The court evangelicals are changing the religious landscape in the United States. The Trump presidency is only six months old, but it is already beginning to alter long-standing spiritual alignments. It seems as though Christians are not changing Trump, but rather that Trump could be changing Christianity.
Historians will write about this moment in terms of both continuity and change. On one hand, court evangelicals are part of a familiar story. For nearly half a century, evangelicals have sought to influence the direction of the country and its laws through politics. But Trump has forced them to embrace a pragmatism that could damage the gospel around the world, and force many Christians to rethink their religious identities and affiliations.
The 20 percent of white evangelicals who did not vote for Trump — many of whom are conservative politically and theologically — now seem to have a lot more in common with mainline Protestants. Some in my own circles have expressed a desire to leave their evangelical churches in search of a more authentic form of Christianity.
Other evangelicals are experiencing a crisis of faith as they look around in their white congregations on Sunday morning and realize that so many fellow Christians were willing to turn a blind eye to all that Trump represents.
This division in white evangelicalism was on display again during Franklin Graham’s June 2 call to prayer for Donald Trump. I wrote about that here.
Today we see yet another illustration of how nasty things are getting within white evangelicalism. Russell Moore, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and a staunch anti-Trumper, tweeted a response to an Associated Press story about the horrendous treatment of children on the Mexican-Texas border:
The reports of the conditions for migrant children at the border should shock all of our consciences. Those created in the image of God should be treated with dignity and compassion, especially those seeking refuge from violence back home. We can do better than this. https://t.co/Cv3AmJgypn
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) June 25, 2019
By all reports, the Associated Press, and by extension Moore, are correct about the moral problems on the border and the failure of the Trump administration to do anything about it. As I posted yesterday, a Trump administration lawyer even tried to make a case that these children did not need soap, toothbrushes, or blankets.
But this did not stop the court evangelicals from pouncing. Here is Jack Graham, pastor of the Prestonwood Baptist Church:
This is a very inaccurate report! I’ve been to the border and seen the great work our Border Agents are doing along with churches like ours which are ministering in Jesus Name. Extremely disappointing @dmoore https://t.co/LZ6WQnQP3F
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) June 25, 2019
He followed-up with this:
.@drrmoore …. why don’t you go with me to the border and we can show you what is actually happening rather than your simply quoting CNN. I’m ready when you are.
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) June 25, 2019
Just for the record, Moore retweeted a report from the Associated Press, not CNN.
Another court evangelical who got into the mix was Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University, a Christian school that claims it is the largest Christian university in the world. (Actually, it is not, but we won’t go down that road right now). I cannot embed Falwell Jr.’s tweet because he blocked me a long time ago, but I can quote it:
Who are you @drmoore? Have you ever made a payroll? Have you ever built an organization of any type from scratch? What give you authority to speak on any issue? I’m being serious. You’re nothing but an employee–a bureaucrat.
Wow! There are so many things we could say about this single tweet. It not only captures the divide within white evangelicalism, but it also speaks volumes about Jerry Falwell Jr. as a Christian leader and educator. Here are few comments:
And here is writer Jeet Heer:
Did Jesus ever meet a payroll? https://t.co/z3Bz0OOo4j
— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) June 25, 2019
Watch Mike Pence dodge the question and try to blame it all on the Democrats. It is sad and pathetic to watch this Christian man put politics over conscience. Notice how Pence tries ignore Tapper’s questions by bringing up long-term and big picture solutions.
If Trump wanted to help these kids, he could do it and do it now. And where is court evangelical Franklin Graham and Samaritan’s Purse? Doesn’t Graham’s ministry help kids like this? Why isn’t Samaritan Purse’s in El Paso TODAY with shoe boxes full of supplies.
Here is what Franklin is tweeting about these days:
Food, water, shelter—these are some of the ways @SamaritansPurse responds to international crises in Jesus’ Name. This #WorldRefugeeDay pray especially for victims of war & political crisis. Read about a South Sudanese family’s story of survival: https://t.co/KSPwP3Xkno
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 20, 2019
But apparently not in El Paso.
Here is Franklin picking a fight with Madonna:
.@Madonna says that the Author of Life, Jesus Christ, would approve of the destruction of life through abortion. That’s absurd! I’m sorry that Madonna and others who believe the way she does are so misled. https://t.co/RsmxM2gvFO
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 24, 2019
And while kids are living in unsanitary conditions on the border, Franklin is railing against the “secularists”:
Secularists wanted the Bladensburg Peace Cross removed & a lower court had ruled it unconstitutional in 2017. They were wrong. This is another example of how important judges are at both the state & federal level. Please continue to pray for our country’s governance. 2/2
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 21, 2019
And he wants everyone to know that Kathie Lee Gifford is getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame:
— Franklin Graham (@Franklin_Graham) June 21, 2019
Court evangelicalism paralyzes people like Graham. He can’t help these kids because he has to remain loyal to the POTUS. Let’s hope and pray he changes his mind and makes a phone call to Trump asking for permission to bring his relief agency to El Paso.
And while we are at it, let’s try to solve our immigration problem in a way that makes such detention camps unnecessary.
Fact-checking website Snopes linked the network to Kelly Monroe Kullberg, the founder and president of The America Conservancy, whose aims, as Kullberg has described online, are “advancing Biblical wisdom as the highest love for people and for culture.” All 24 Facebook pages had financial ties to Kullberg directly or organizations she helps lead.
Posts on the network decry “Islamist Privilege and Sharia Supremacy” and claim that Islam is “not a religion”; that Islam promotes rape, murder and deception; that Muslims hate Christians and Jews; that Muslims have an agenda to “spread Sharia law and Islam through migration and reproduction”; and that resettling Muslim refugees is “cultural destruction and subjugation.”
The tactics seem to mirror the playbook of Russian troll farms, with page titles purporting to originate with diverse demographic groups like “Blacks for Trump,” “Catholics for Trump,” “Teachers for Trump” and “Seniors for America.”
Snopes found that Kullberg and her associates’ agenda appeared, at least in part, to be working to re-elect President Donald Trump in 2020. The “astroturfing” campaign — referring to efforts made to look as if they come from legitimate grassroots supporters — was at least in part funded by right-wing political donors, including a prominent GOP donor who served as a fundraiser and campaign board member for 2016 presidential candidate Ben Carson.
I was happy to contribute to the Khan’s report:
“If you would have told me about this investigation 20 years ago I would have been very surprised,” said John Fea, a professor of American history at Messiah College and author of the book “Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.” But given Kullberg’s more recent politics, he said, it’s hardly shocking.
Once a mainstream evangelical Christian figure, Kullberg is the founder of the The Veritas Forum, a prominent non-profit organization that partners with Christian college students to host discussions on campus about faith. The discussions attract non-evangelical, non-Christian and secular speakers as well as leading mainstream evangelical voices.
Her 1996 book “Finding God at Harvard: Spiritual Journeys of Thinking Christians” topped bestseller lists. Now based in Columbus, Ohio, she has served as a chaplain to the Harvard Graduate School Christian Fellowship and spent time as a missionary in Russia and several Latin American countries.
Most recently, Kullberg appears to have shifted further right politically, taking what Fea described as a “pro-Trump, Christian Right, culture war posture” laced with anti-social justice rhetoric. The American Association of Evangelicals, for which Kullberg is the founder and spokeswoman, is “essentially a Christian Right organization whose supporters read like a list of evangelical leaders who have thrown their support behind Donald Trump as a savior of the country and the church,” he said.
“She seems obsessed with the influence of George Soros on progressive evangelicals and believes that social justice warriors have hijacked the Gospel,” Fea noted.
Read the entire piece here.
While running the Veritas Forum, Kullberg worked with Christian speakers such as Francis Collins, Robert George, Os Guinness, Tim Keller, Peter Kreeft, Madeleine L’Engle, George Marsden, Frederica Mathewes-Green, Alister McGrath, Richard John Neuhaus, Alvin Plantinga, John Polkinghorne, Dallas Willard, Lauren Winner, Nicholas Wolterstorff, and N.T. Wright. She put some of these speakers into dialogue with the likes of Anthony Flew, Christopher Hitchens, Nicholas Kristof, Steven Pinker, and Peter Singer.
In her new role with the “The American Association of Evangelicals” she works with court evangelicals and pro-Trump evangelicals such as Eric Metaxas, James Garlow, Everett Piper, Tim Wildmon, Wayne Grudem, Steve Strang, David Barton, and Lance Wallnau (the Trump prayer coin guy).
The divisions in American evangelicalism are widening. The American Association of Evangelicals (AAE) is now the conservative, Christian Right alternative to The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Here is how it understands its relationship to the NAE:
Kullberg is also a leader with Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration (EBI) a more conservative evangelical immigration group that appears to be an alternative to the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT). While the EBI includes many of the culture warriors I mentioned above, the EIT includes people like Leith Anderson (President of the NAE), Shirley Hoogstra (President of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities), and Russell Moore (President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission).
New alignments are forming. Evangelicalism is changing and fracturing.
Jake Tapper of CNN is reporting that Donald Trump told immigration officials on the Mexican border to essentially ignore court orders allowing Central American migrants seeking asylum into the country. Here is a taste of Tapper’s piece:
Three Thursdays ago, in a meeting at the Oval Office with top officials — including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, top aides Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and more — the President, according to one attendee, was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.”
Senior administration officials say that Trump then ordered Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. The plan was that in subsequent days the Trump administration would shut down other ports.
Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even dangerous idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President.
She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports. She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade and travel, but migrants will just go between ports.
According to two people in the room, the President said: “I don’t care.”
Ultimately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to have been able to talk the President out of closing the port of El Paso. Trump, however, was insistent that his administration begin taking another action — denying asylum seekers entry. Nielsen tried to explain to the President that the asylum laws allow migrants from Central America to come to the US and gain entry. She talked to the White House counsel to see if there were any exceptions, but he told her that her reading of the law was correct.
Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security responded to official requests for comment.
Last Friday, the President visited Calexico, California, where he said, “We’re full, our system’s full, our country’s full — can’t come in! Our country is full, what can you do? We can’t handle any more, our country is full. Can’t come in, I’m sorry. It’s very simple.”
Behind the scenes, two sources told CNN, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don’t have the capacity, he said. If judges give you trouble, say, “Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room.”
After the President left the room, agents sought further advice from their leaders, who told them they were not giving them that direction and if they did what the President said they would take on personal liability. You have to follow the law, they were told.
Read the entire piece here.
Some will say that Tapper represents the “left-wing media” who is out to get Trump. I have a few thoughts on this:
Tapper’s piece is just further proof that Trump is a populist tyrant. He won in 2016 by promising to build a wall. His immigration policy thus far has been draconian. Some of the children he separated from their parents are lost and it will take up to two years to find them. Today he falsely claimed that Obama is to blame for the separation of these children. He believes that he has a mandate from the people (or at least the ones who elected him) to do these things and, as a result, he does not pay much attention to the rule of law, checks and balances, or time-honored American institutions.
Trump’s populism reminds me of Andrew Jackson’s rationale for removing the Cherokees from their homeland and sending them on the so-called “Trail of Tears.” The white men who voted for Jackson wanted the Cherokee gone. Jackson listened and responded. This is what democracy meant in the early 19th century. Maybe this is why Michigan conservatives do not want students to study “democracy” in their history classes.
And where are the Trump court evangelicals today? What do they have to say about his disregard for the law, his separation of children, and his constant lies? Here is what they are up to today:
Bob Jeffress, with his snarky laugh and Trump name-dropping, is still obsessed with the fact that Pete Buttigieg is gay, progressive and pro-choice. (By the way, Jeffress’s defense of Mike Pence here does not seem to hold-up when compared to past Pence statements on the subject).
Watch and share my interview from “Fox News @ Night with Shannon Bream” as I discuss Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s attack on VP Mike Pence. pic.twitter.com/bED9ZNiIaL
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) April 9, 2019
Jack Graham is hanging out with the “My Pillow” guy:
— Jack Graham (@jackngraham) April 9, 2019
I am not sure if Paula White has any followers among the separated families on the border, but if she does, they are going to have a hard time taking her advice here:
Don’t ever give up on your children! Pray and trust God to reach and keep them for their eternal destiny to be fulfilled!
— Paula White-Cain (@Paula_White) April 9, 2019
The Trump Administration separated 1000s of immigrant children from their parents. If I am reading this article correctly, the administration does not know where these kids are located. They simply failed to write down where they sent them. It will take up to two years to find them.
And where are the court evangelicals today? They brag about unprecedented access to Trump. Now is the time to use such access. These men and women built their political careers around defending “family values.” Why aren’t they lined-up at the White House door to demand that these families are reunited sooner?
Here is Tony Perkins, president of an organization called the FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL:
Americans, including public officials, have every right to bring their religiously-informed values to bear in public policy decisions. Historically, this hasn’t been controversial. Now, cultural elites demand that faith be checked at the door. @FoxNews https://t.co/szPlpyLZbO
— Tony Perkins (@tperkins) April 5, 2019
Apparently Perkins’s “religiously informed values” do not bear on “public policy decisions” about reuniting families separated by Trump immigration policy. It seems like this might be something an organization called the FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL may want to take up.
I wonder how Perkins would respond if these were white middle class families?
First Baptist-Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress spent his Sunday interviewing a guy from Duck Dynasty:
In case you missed it, watch last week’s service right now on iCampus to hear me interview Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson on his new book, his faith and more. Join me this morning downtown at 9:15 or 10:50am for worship! https://t.co/xvpkuddqcT pic.twitter.com/3k9o11OCUT
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) April 7, 2019
I am sure this interview focused on family separation. 😉
Gary Bauer, a former president of the Family Research Council, is using his Twitter feed to spew anti-immigrant rhetoric:
The Trump economy built on free enterprise created 199,000 new jobs last month. The socialist failed countries of Central America created another 100,000 illegals crossing our border. What future do we want? #CapitalismIsProsperity #USWillNeverBeSocialist #MAGA #BorderCrisis
— Gary L Bauer (@GaryLBauer) April 5, 2019
Former “Focus on the Family” host James Dobson is wondering what “love” looks like:
What does love look like to you? pic.twitter.com/N75spdEnPY
— Dr. James Dobson (@DrJamesCDobson) April 6, 2019
Eric Metaxas was on NPR earlier today wondering if the American Republic has “lost its way’:
— 1A (@1a) April 8, 2019
These court evangelicals, if they really believe in family values, should be screaming from the rooftops today. Sadly, it’s not going to happen.
Ben Sasse, the senator from Nebraska, has been a vocal critic of Donald Trump. Yet rarely does his opposition to Trump move beyond words. For example, when twelve GOP senators broke with their party to oppose Donald Trump’s “national emergency” declaration on the U.S.-Mexico border, Sasse supported the president. The conservative Washington Examiner called Sasse’s decision “myopic.”
Over at Commonweal, E.J. Dionne wonders when Sasse is going to take a stand against the president. Last week I described Sasse’s failure to vote against the national emergency by invoking a line from the musical Hamilton: “If you stand for nothing, Ben, what will you fall for?”
Here is a taste of Dionne’s piece:
But the real takeaway here is the support Trump still won from the vast majority of Republicans—and, in particular, the abject capitulation of many who had suggested or said outright that they would oppose his invocation of emergency powers. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., wrote in The Washington Post last month that “I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.” Yet, when the roll was called, he did exactly that, supporting Trump’s “emergency.” The Post’s Aaron Blake rightly called it “a flip flop for the ages.”
The most disappointing vote came from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a principled Trump opponent from the earliest days of the 2016 primaries. Sasse issued an intellectually vacuous statement saying that as a “constitutional conservative,” he thinks the president’s emergency powers are too broad. But he justified his vote to go along with Trump by trashing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and “bare-knuckled politics.” This sounded like projection, since the “bare-knuckled politics” was on Trump’s side. Sasse, like Tillis, is on the ballot in 2020.
My first encounter with Sasse was in January 2016. He was in Iowa to speak on behalf of every major Republican running against Trump. I respected his gutsy willingness to see Trump as exactly who he is. “He’s a strongman with a will to power,” Sasse told me then. “Trump has been the only guy on the Republican side of the aisle that regularly campaigns and says things like, ‘If I’m elected president, I’ll be able to do whatever I want.’”
Three years on, we know that Sasse was right from the start. But what are he and his Republican colleagues willing to do about it? For a majority of them, sadly including Sasse himself, the answer is: precious little.
Read the entire piece here.
I just received this e-mail from the President of the United States. He continues to play to darkness over light. He continues to play to fear over hope. And who are these 93% of Americans who want him to finish the wall? Perhaps they are members of his staff or the GOP senators who supported him. This letter sounds like the musings of an insecure tyrant.
The liberal swamp will never learn. That’s why I just VETOED the Pro-Crime, Pro-Drugs, and Pro-Open Borders Democrat inspired resolution.
Liberals in the Senate chose politics, I chose YOU.
59 Senators voted to put illegal immigrants and political games over YOUR safety. DISGRACEFUL!
But, when I asked American Patriots (the people that matter) over 93% said YES VETO & FINISH THE WALL. When the people talk, I always listen.
As your Commander-in-Chief, I will NEVER put politics over the safety of American Citizens, so help me God.
Even with this Veto, the attacks will keep coming from the “Border Deniers” and their allies in the mainstream media. We have to do something HUGE to have the resources to fight back.
That’s why I need you to contribute to the most important fund of my presidency – the OFFICIAL WALL DEFENSE FUND.
The Wall is being finished. Trust me. But the radical liberals will keep pushing back construction while precious American lives are lost. NO MORE!
I need you to step up, Friend. This is your moment to go down in history and FINISH THE WALL.
President of the United States
So much for “fresh leadership, energy, and ideas.” Here is the Post:
We endorsed Sen. Cory Gardner in 2014 because we believed he’d be a statesman. We knew he’d be a conservative voice in Congress, to be certain, but we thought his voice would bring “fresh leadership, energy and ideas.”
We see now that was a mistake – consider this our resolution of disapproval.
Gardner has been too busy walking a political tight rope to be a leader. He has become precisely what we said in our endorsement he would not be: “a political time-server interested only in professional security.”
Gardner was not among the 12 Republicans who joined Democrats in rejecting President Donald Trump’s use of a national emergency declaration to allocate funds to a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
We fully expect to disagree with our lawmakers from time to time — in fact we’ve been critical of Gardner but stuck by him through tough but defensible votes including the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
But these are extraordinary times. This is a bogus emergency that takes executive over-reach to an extreme not seen even under President Barack Obama. Trump’s declaration is an abuse of his power, a direct overturning of Congress’ deliberate decision to pass a federal budget without funding for a wall.
Read the rest here.
Over at Big Think, Stephen Johnson writes about a plan that might help with border security, create jobs, and bring green energy to the United States. Here is a taste:
“What should the U.S. do about The Wall?” is a question that’s destined to divide many Americans. But there’s one proposal for the U.S.-Mexico border that, at least in theory, seems agreeable to everyone.
A consortium of 28 engineers and scientists has proposed that – instead of building a simple barrier along the approximately 2,000-mile border – the U.S. and Mexico could work together to build an industrial park along the divide that would include desalination facilities, solar energy panels, wind turbines and natural gas pipelines. The plan would not only provide the region with border security – considering it’d be a continuous train of heavily guarded industrial facilities – but also energy, water and jobs.
In a white paper, the team called it a “future energy, water, industry and education park” that “will create massive opportunities for employment and prosperity.”
“Just like the transcontinental railroad transformed the United States in the 19th century, or the Interstate system transformed the 20th century, this would be a national infrastructure project for the 21st century,” Luciano Castillo, Purdue University’s Kenninger Professor of Renewable Energy and Power Systems and lead of the consortium, told Phys.org. “It would do for the Southwest what the Tennessee Valley Authority has done for the Southeast over the last several decades.”
Read the entire piece here. Interesting. This deserves bipartisan consideration.
Perhaps you have seen the new NPR/PBS/Marist Poll on Americans reaction to Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” on the Mexican border. I used this poll to begin my lecture yesterday at the University of Southern California. If you haven’t seen it yet, here are a few things worth noting:
These are very revealing statistics. They tell us a lot about white evangelicals today. Why are they so supportive of Trump’s national emergency and his border wall and why are they so out of step with the rest of the American population? Read the report here and draw your own conclusions.
As I argued in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, white evangelicals are fearful that their white Christian nation is eroding and they believe Trump’s immigration policies are the best way to save it.
Thanks to John Haas for calling this poll to my attention.
Matthew Gabrielle, a professor of medieval studies at Virginia Tech, brings some historical context to Donald Trump’s claim that border walls worked well in the Middle Ages. Here is a taste of his piece at The Washington Post:
President Trump’s demand for a wall across most of the U.S.-Mexico border has been mocked (and embraced) as a “medieval” idea. Responding to the president’s prime-time speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) tweeted, “We are not paying a $5 billion ransom note for your medieval 🏰 border wall.” A day later, on Wednesday, Trump responded by embracing that characterization: “[Democrats] say it’s a medieval solution, a wall. It’s true, because it worked then, and it works even better now.”
Since then, others have seized on the idea, and the association seems to have stuck. Walls generally, but this wall in particular, are straight from the Middle Ages. Dana Milbank ran with the idea, speaking with several scholars of the Middle Ages, experts on siege warfare, about what the country would “really” need if it were planning to use a wall to repel invaders.
But as a scholar of medieval history, I have noticed something has been missing in all this discussion. In short, calling the proposed 700 to 1,200 mile border wall “medieval” is deeply misleading because walls in the actual European Middle Ages simply did not work the way Trump apparently thinks they did. If anything, their true function may speak to Trump’s intentions: Poor tools of defense, medieval walls had more to do with reassuring those who lived inside them than with dividing self from other.
Read the rest here.
James Fallows boils it down at The Atlantic:
Read the rest here.
Donald Trump will be speaking to the nation tomorrow night about the government shutdown and his border wall.
Trump will probably say that immigrants are coming across the border and trying to kill American citizens. Yes, there have been people killed at the hands of undocumented immigrants. This is a tragedy and the loss of a human life should never be taken lightly.
But, as I wrote in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump, the chance that an American will die at the hands of a refugee terrorist is about one in 10.9 million per year. One is more likely to die from walking across a railroad track or having one’s clothes spontaneously catch fire. Yet Trump has managed to convince some Americans that Mexican immigrants are imminent threats to their safety. This is the foundation of his immigration policy and his commitment to the border wall. And one could argue that the wall is at the heart of his political brand. It is based on fear.
If Trump wants to build a domestic policy around protecting the lives of everyday Americans, he should be spending billions on cancer research, heart disease research, diabetes research, the opiod crisis, Alzheimer’s research, safer systems of transportation, and suicide prevention. These are the largest causes of death in the United States. Or how about spending money on long-term issues that will save lives–the protection of the environment, the reduction of the number of abortions in the United States, and affordable health care?
Do we need border security? Yes. Do we have an immigration problem that needs to be fixed? Yes. But if Trump really wants to keep more Americans alive he can spend that 5 billion in more fruitful ways.
More specifically, Trump will probably appeal to the so-called “4000 known or suspected terrorists” coming into our country illegally. On Sunday, Chris Wallace debunked this claim in dramatic fashion before a national audience:
By the way, Chris Wallace works for Fox News.
Trump may try to declare a “National Emergency” based on this false information. He will also accuse the Democrats in Congress that they do not care about the safety of our country. But there is no national emergency. I recently heard CNN Phil Mudd wonder when the last time a President of the United States had to go before the American people to persuade them that we were in the midst of a national emergency? Aren’t national emergencies pretty obvious? And don’t they usually get bipartisan support? Maybe some of my presidential historian friends can help me with that one.
And finally, Trump may say that most of the American people support his decision to shut-down the government in order to get a wall. This is another lie. One recent poll found that 78% of Americans approve of some kind of compromise on border security.
Trump recently told the press that he “can relate” to the hundreds of thousands of people who are not receiving paychecks because of the government shut down. Really? He added: “I’m sure the people who are on the receiving end will make adjustments; they always do.” I’ve seen this before. Trump seems to be making some kind 18th-century appeal to political virtue. In other words, he believes the federal workers will be willing to give up some of their own self-interest (in this case their paychecks) in order to support a greater good (security through a border wall). The Founding Fathers tried appeals to virtue in the 1770s and 1780s and they did not work very well. They do not seem to be working very well today either.
Here is a taste of a great New York Times piece by Julie Hirschfield Davis and Peter Baker on Trump’s border wall proposal and its political consequences:
To many conservative activists who have pressed for decades for sharp reductions in both illegal and legal immigration — and some of the Republican lawmakers who are allied with them — a physical barrier on the border with Mexico is barely relevant, little more than a footnote to a long list of policy changes they believe are needed to fix a broken system.
The disconnect is at the heart of the dilemma facing Mr. Trump as he labors to find a way out of an impasse that has shuttered large parts of the government and cost 800,000 federal employees their pay. Having spent more than four years — first as a candidate and then as president — whipping his core supporters into a frenzy over the idea of building a border wall, Mr. Trump finds himself in a political box of his own making.
In transforming the wall into a powerful emblem of his anti-immigration message, Mr. Trump has made the proposal politically untouchable for Democrats, who have steadfastly refused to fund it, complicating the chances of any compromise.
“As a messaging strategy, it was pretty successful,” Mr. Krikorian said. “The problem is, you got elected; now what do you do? Having made it his signature issue, Trump handed the Democrats a weapon against him.”
Read the entire piece here.
Here is a taste Franklin’s Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind. We talked about this letter today in my Colonial America course.
23. In fine, A Nation well regulated is like a Polypus; take away a Limb, its Place is soon supply’d; cut it in two, and each deficient Part shall speedily grow out of the Part remaining. Thus if you have Room and Subsistence enough, as you may by dividing, make ten Polypes out of one, you may of one make ten Nations, equally populous and powerful; rather, increase a Nation ten fold in Numbers and Strength.
And since Detachments of English from Britain sent to America, will have their Places at Home so soon supply’d and increase so largely here; why should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements, and by herding together establish their Language and Manners to the Exclusion f ours? Why should Pennsylvania, founded by theEnglish, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion.
24. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Compexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.
Read the entire document here.
Over at VOX, Tara Isabella Burton tackles this issue. She wonders why so many evangelical leaders reject anti-immigration rhetoric and so many of their followers embrace it.
Here is a taste:
From his dismissal of “shithole countries” to his attempts to institute a “Muslim travel ban,” from his incendiary rhetoric about Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals, to his latest attempts to prevent the Honduran migrants to seeking asylum, Trump’s approach to borders has been one of nativism and insularity by protecting (his idea of white) America at the expense of everyone else. And, by and large, white evangelicals on the ground have followed suit — even when some in evangelical leadership is advocating for more nuanced policy positions.
The reasons for this discrepancy are complicated. They include a white evangelical population that gets its moral sense as much from conservative media as it does from scripture. There’s also a more general conflation of white evangelicalism with the GOP party agenda, which has been intensifying since the days of the Moral Majority in the 1980s.
As Jenny Yang, vice president for advocacy and policy for World Relief, the humanitarian wing of the National Association for Evangelicals, told Vox, white evangelicals’ views on immigration are more likely to be shaped “not from their local church or their pastor, but actually from the news media. … This has become an issue of the church being discipled by the media more than the Bible or the local pastor in terms of their views on immigration.”
Ed Stetzer, a Christian author and commentator who leads the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, agreed. “White evangelicals are more shaped on this issue by Republican views,” he told Vox. “They’re being discipled by their cable news network of choice and by their social media feeds.” He pointed out that, while white evangelicals are more likely than other religious voting blocs to express conservative views on immigration, they don’t necessarily do so at greater rates than nonwhite evangelical Republicans.
In other words, the political views of white evangelicals may say far more about their party affiliation than it does about their theological identity. In the Trump era, in particular, white evangelical Christianity and nativist political isolation have become particularly intertwined. Trump, his administration, and its allies have used the language of Christian nationalism to shore up their political base.
Read the entire piece here. Sadly, it appears that Fox News-style fear-mongering easily sways many white evangelicals. Or at least this is what I argued in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.
Roman Catholic theologian and College of the Holy Cross professor Mathew Schmalz reflects on what the Bible says about immigration and refugees. The Conversation published this piece in January, but it has more relevance than ever right now.
Of course, in Christianity the strong admonitions toward treating the stranger with dignity have coexisted with actions that would seem to indicate an opposite attitude: pogroms against Jews, slavery, imperialism and colonialism have been sanctioned by Christians who nonetheless would have affirmed biblical principles regarding caring for those who seem “other” or “alien.”
Indeed, when it comes to the specific questions concerning building a wall on America’s border with Mexico or welcoming immigrants and refugees, some Christians would argue that doing so does not violate any biblical precepts concerning hospitality to the stranger, since the issue is one of legality and, of course, a good number of Christians did indeed support Donald Trump’s candidacy for the presidency.
Other Christians have taken a diametrically different position, and have called for cities and educational institutions to be set apart as “safe zones” for undocumented immigrants.
It is true that the application of biblical principles to contemporary matters of policy is less than clear to the many Christians who have taken opposing sides regarding how the United States should deal with immigrants, undocumented workers and refugees.
However, in my reading of the Bible, the principles regarding welcoming the stranger are broad-reaching and unambiguous.
Read the entire piece here.