Terry H. Schwadron
Nov. 22, 2018
Happy Thanksgiving, unless you’re on the nation’s Southern border.
Happy holiday, unless you are among those first 3,000 early migrants arriving at the port of entry into the United States and crowding into a new public shelter with little room for growth. The estimates now are that it will take at least two months for these migrants to approach the legal port and apply for asylum. That’s a month or two with a child or infant with no job, little cash and needing food and shelter, lining up behind about 3,000 already waiting for hearings,
Happy holiday season for 7,000 U.S. National Guardsmen and active U.S. military troops bivouacked in tents along the southwestern border, constrained from doing more than support services, but dispatched by the White House to look the part of a strong defense against “an invasion” of migrants. These troops, who have little operational strategy or use beyond the act of locating along the border, will be there through the holidays to, well, almost no practical point at all.
Maybe even happy thoughts for President Trump who reportedly plans to celebrate Thanksgiving once again at his members-only Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida, feasting on a 24-dish extravaganza of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, marshmallow sweet potatoes, red snapper, leg of lamb, grilled diver scallops, stone crab, ahi tuna martinis, Maine lobster bisque, short ribs, beef tenderloin and seven desserts. He has agreed to teleconference with military troops in the field.
Perhaps the president wanted to celebrate a decision announcement late Tuesday authorizing the use of lethal force and the use of the U.S. military in confronting migrants, both in apparent disregard for standing U.S. law.
The day about which Donald Trump warned us unceasingly in the weeks before the mid-term elections has arrived. It’s not chaotic, it’s not an invasion: It’s boring for all.
The border officials say that they can handle about 100 applications a day; rather than sending troops, the White House apparently gave no thought to, say, sending more bureaucrats to handle the paperwork.
This week, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a temporary order saying the asylum laws must be offered even with illegal entry. This order will be appealed, of course, but there is a pattern here of the president acting first, then seeking legal permission. The president criticized the judge as an Obama appointee, drawing a rebuke from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said the president clearly does not understand the role of an independent judiciary.
We know that the White House gave no inkling about sending even a practical delegation to Honduras and Guatemala in an attempt to bolster efforts there to stop people from wanting to flee rampant crime and hunger.
An estimated 3,400 are waiting in Mexicali, a border city two and half hours to the east, and most of those were expected to reach Tijuana yesterday, said Maggie Núñez, who was working with Pueblo sin Fronteras, an advocacy group that is assisting the caravan.
In Tijuana, patience was starting to thin, according to news reports. The new Trump policies on asylum are such that they funnel legal requests for asylum into the ports of entry, which already are overloaded.
Meanwhile, Attorneys for immigrant advocacy groups went to federal court in San Francisco on Monday to block the Trump administration from automatically denying asylum protections to migrants who illegally cross the border into the United States.
There are complaints building in Tijuana about housing the caravan’s migrants, about any sense of preference for the fleeing Central Americans over Mexicans and others, about the sense of anticipation about protests, crime and backlash against different national groups.
Still, “It is impossible to square the listless mood of the shelter with what President Trump railed against as a caravan ‘invasion’ before this month’s midterm elections,” reported The Times from the scene.”
“By banding together, the migrants sought protection against the criminal gangs and corrupt officials who prey on people trying to reach the United States border. But they had little sense of the political firestorm their trek had set off, said The Times, adding. “Many of the migrants repeat the magical thinking that has sustained them through their journey and brought them right up to the edge of the border: a belief that once all of the caravan has reached Tijuana, the gates may by flung open.”
Interview after interview showed migrants fleeing from crime and joblessness, not widespread numbers of criminals and those of “Middle East extraction” as described by the president in his campaign rallies.
Happy Thanksgiving, if you believe in turkeys, eaten and otherwise.