Listen To Article
If I were you, I would have stopped paying attention a while ago. The maddening and sickening work of keeping track of the constant headlines is just too much for any sane person to handle. I would have stopped paying attention a while ago, if it weren’t my job to stand up in front of a group of curious Christians most Sundays and tell them what’s going on.
If I were you, the fatigue would have made it impossible to connect the seemingly-disparate dots of horrifying and demoralizing changes.
So if I were you, I wouldn’t know that the President already has built his wall — at least in function. He has carefully, strategically, and successfully changed enough of our country’s immigration policy that it’s hard to tell if Congress matters that much any more. If they fail to do something he’s set to do, he seems to find a way to make it happen without them.
If I were you, I wouldn’t have figured it out yet. That we are already a country that has closed the door to immigrants.
Here are some of the dots from the last year and a half:
- The banning of travel, and immigration, for people from certain Muslim-majority countries, leaving family members devastated that they cannot reunite with their loved ones.
- The freezing of all refugee resettlement for a period of 120 days, crippling the infrastructure (largely of non-profits) that resettles refugees. Once that 120 days was over, the resettlement goal was set at the lowest in modern history — and we won’t come close to meeting even that. Refugee arrivals have fallen 75% from the number resettled in 2016. (Interestingly, we’ve resettled ⅓ of our cap for African and Latin American refugees, less than half of Asian refugees, but we’ve surpassed the cap set for European refugees.)
- The termination of Temporary Protected Status, which takes away long-standing legal status for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti.
- The ending of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protected young immigrants from deportation who otherwise have no legal way to live and work in the U.S.
- Bills in Congress have aimed to end family-based immigration visas, with President Trump’s support through using factually inaccurate stories about “chain migration.” After those bills did not pass, proposed changes to something called “public charge” would meet a similar goal. It broadly, and enormously, expands the criteria the government uses to determine if a would-be immigrant is likely to depend on government benefits, and thus denies their application. The new rules would include virtually any benefit that exists for low-income people, and also penalizes an immigrant if, for example, their U.S. citizen child has accessed benefits that they’re entitled to, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program — raising from 3% to 47% the number of immigrants denied the right to stay, or reunite, with their families.
- The proposal in Congress to end the diversity lottery, which gives 50,000 visas per year to immigrants whose nationality is underrepresented in the U.S. (about half of which go to people from Africa). While this has not yet passed, the administration has instructed officers at foreign consulates to use more scrutiny when determining an immigrant’s admissibility, lengthening that process and increasing the overall number of denials.
- Immigration officers are now encouraged to deny any imperfect visa application without first giving the applicant an opportunity to fix the problem. Lawyers used to be given notice that more evidence was needed, but now any inadvertent error or missing information means immediate denial of the visa — affecting nearly everyone who files any kind of form related to immigration with the government. And worse, if the applicant does not have legal status at the time of this denial, they are immediately eligible for deportation.
- Special immigrant visas have been reduced significantly, including those reserved for the Iraqis and Afghans who served the U.S. government in war zones. Victims of violent crimes, awaiting special visas, are being deported before their visas are awarded.
- Haitians — none of them — are allowed to apply for low-skilled work visas. At all. Because they’re from Haiti.
- In an attempt to punish families who’d crossed the border to exercise their legal right to seek asylum from persecution, and deter those who had not yet arrived, a policy is enacted of abducting children and deeming them “unaccompanied,” separating thousands of families with no plan for reunion. Many parents were likely coerced into signing away their legal right to seek asylum so that they might be more speedily reunited with their child.
- Meanwhile, the definition of asylum is changed so that those seeking refuge from Domestic Violence or Gang Violence (which covers most Central America, the largest population of people who seek asylum at our borders today) no longer meet the criteria at all, and are swiftly denied.
- Another policy has been drafted, stating that those who take more than two weeks to transit through another country in order to get to the U.S. must seek asylum in that country instead. Since it takes several weeks to traverse Mexico, this would ensure that most Central Americans would be forced to seek asylum in Mexico — a country rife with human rights issues related to asylum seekers.
- And for the first time since the McCarthy era, a denaturalization task force has been set up, with the goal of deporting some 2,000 U.S. citizens who are suspected of “cheating” on their applications. Since those applications are notoriously long and confusing, replete with the possibility for mistakes or omissions, this has struck many naturalized citizens with panic. But it’s right in line with the President’s promise, “To start a process where we take back our country,” (said in 2017 to Fox News about possibly stripping citizenship from American-born citizens with undocumented parents).
Here’s how I would connect these dots: our president has a point-by-point plan to get rid of people who are not white. This is what the red hat really means.
Once, the disciples came to Jesus and asked why he spoke in parables. He told them it was because it fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy:
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.” (Matthew 13:14-15)
Heal us, Lord.