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Juan Williams: Trump's immigration outrage

Juan Williams: Trump's immigration outrage

Time to weep. Time to scream. Time to register to vote.

Under a barbaric policy, hundreds of immigrant children are being taken away from their parents — some of whom are seeking legal asylum — as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to deter families from trying to get into the U.S.

Last week, a friend told me she was on a flight when an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official got on board with crying children being transported to a detention center far from their parents.

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This businesswoman began to cry, too, out of shame at seeing children forced to suffer severe psychological trauma.

 

And for what?

Are Americans really allowing President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE to use children as pawns in his ongoing attacks on illegal immigrants and his demand that Congress pay for a wall?

At best, the mythic Trump wall is a political symbol. It will not stop illegal immigration or crime, as the facts show most undocumented immigrants overstay visas and most drugs come through legal ports of entry.

The administration may claim its policy of separating families at the border is aimed at discouraging illegal immigration, but the number of border crossings has risen since the policy was implemented.

Also, the New York Times reported last week that many of the families being detained “enter at official border crossings and request asylum, which is not an illegal entry.”

When a member of Congress tried to exercise some oversight, he ran into a stone wall. Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleySanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation Graham: Saudi’s findings on slain journalist not 'credible' MORE (D-Ore.) posted a video of himself being turned away when he attempted to enter a Texas detention center.

“You’re seeking asylum, and the first thing that happens when you get here is you’re torn away from your parents?” Merkley said in the video. “America has never done this before… The intention is to hurt the children, cause the children trauma and discourage people from seeking asylum in the United States of America.”

Congress’s only role, according to Trump, is to take blame for failing to pass immigration reform. Specifically, the president wants to blame Congressional Democrats — like Merkley.

“Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from [their] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S. … DEMOCRATS ARE PROTECTING MS-13 THUGS,” Trump tweeted late last month.

Now all immigrant children are gang members?

Merkley shot back on Twitter:

“Mr. President, the only ‘horrible law’ is YOUR policy. YOU have the power to change it. If you saw what I saw today, you would,” Merkley said.

As the Associated Press reported last week, “No law mandates that parents must be separated from their children at the border, and it’s not a policy Democrats have pushed or can change alone as the minority in Congress.”

Trump is right about one thing: Congress has repeatedly failed to pass immigration reform. But the failure is the result of Congressional Republicans and their allies on right-wing talk shows, who have trashed every proposal as “amnesty” for law-breakers.

Until last week, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPelosi, Schumer: Trump 'desperate' to put focus on immigration, not health care Trump urges Dems to help craft new immigration laws: ‘Chuck & Nancy, call me!' Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE (R-Wis.) even sought to appease the far-right Freedom Caucus by refusing to have a vote on an immigration bill.

Now, Ryan says the House will vote on legislation to end deportation of “Dreamers,” people who were brought to the country illegally as children by their parents.

Ryan’s hand was forced by more than 20 moderate House Republicans who threatened to side with the entire House Democratic caucus in signing a discharge petition that would compel the Speaker to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.

Note that the Speaker has no actual legislation in hand. And even if a compromise bill is eventually put on the table, it is unclear whether a majority of the House GOP will support it.

The hard right killed a bipartisan 2013 Senate immigration reform bill and has rejected proposals coming from the Trump White House. And in 2006, those same forces derailed Republican President George W. Bush’s attempts at immigration reform.

In fact, Republican strategists are saying that with the midterm elections approaching, the GOP is counting on whipping up anti-immigrant, anti-free trade fervor to get out its base voters.

That kind of harsh rhetoric worked to elect Trump.

But a new political dynamic surrounds the immigration debate.

Job growth has created a shortage of American workers. And the Koch brothers’ political network recently announced it will put money into political advertising to pressure GOP members of Congress to pass a fix for Dreamers.

Let’s assume the big GOP donors scare enough Congressional Republicans to finally prompt action on full immigration reform. That still leaves the question of whether or not Trump will sign any bill.

He risks a potential backlash after all the anti-immigrant red meat he has fed his supporters. 

Recall, Trump lambasted former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during the 2016 GOP primaries for saying that many illegal immigrants come to the US as an “act of love” for their struggling families, especially the children.  

Right now, passing any bill to end the brutality against immigrant children at U.S. detention centers would be an act of love by the GOP-controlled Congress.

Let’s hope love trumps anti-immigrant hate.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.