President Donald J. Trumpet has rescinded the order separating children from their parents when they arrive at the southern border but, get this, some 2,300 kids who have already been separated from their parents have not been grandfathered in. Not only have they not been grandfathered in, but they have already been scattered to the four winds – to cities in Michigan, New York and Rhode Island – which came as a distressing surprise to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Members of the conference hastily gathered in El Paso at the behest of that city’s mayor, Dee Margo, a Republican no less, who painted a very different picture of life at the border than President Donald J. Trump has – one of low crime and entwined Hispanic-American cultures.
So, what the hell is going on? You’ve got mayors – for the most part, men – who are so distressed about children who have just disappeared into their cities that the distress is palpable. You’ve got parents who are so distraught that one even killed himself. Most of all, you’ve got kids who are being traumatized by separation from those parents. I remember being a child and waiting every day after school for the sight of my aunt’s or mother’s car to pick me up. I remember my uncle, whom my grandparents left behind in Madeira to start a new life in America early in the 20th century, and the stories of how difficult it was for him to leave Madeira and the grandparents whom he thought of as parents and come to America as a 9-year-old. Indeed, he never acclimated, didn’t get along with his father and led a sad life of alienation, dying too young of lung cancer. And I remember, more recently, interviewing former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, who grew up in a secure, loving Greenwich, Connecticut, family yet suffered terribly from separation anxiety well into adulthood. (It’s a story brilliantly told in his book “QB.”)
If someone from that stable a background can suffer from this psychological challenge, what kind of damage is being done to poor children who’ve been separated from their parents at the border? And how, for the love of God, is our country going to reunite parents and children when we have no national database?
Compounding the problem is that even if you detain families while their cases wind their way through the courts, you can’t detain children for more than 20 days, but those cases might not be resolved for two years. So, the children have to be released into the United States. The whole thing is monstrous, evil, insane, stupid and incompetent.
Margo told journalist Christiane Amanpour that we need Congressional immigration reform and we need to distinguish between an effective border and an ineffective Berlin-style wall. (While we’re on that subject, why is no one listening to the Texas congressmen who have proposed a smart wall that would cost $500,000 – a fraction of the $25 million Donnie Two Scoops is asking for?)
Oh, because everyone is busy talking about Mr. Chaos, solving the problem he created by creating another one. Even his wife, Melania, has broken ranks – tweeting about keeping families together and visiting the border Thursday, though what a disaster this was.
Meanwhile, her hubby’s back in Washington, D.C., pouting over why “elites” don’t like him when he has more money than they do – I don’t know, could it be because they’re smarter than you are, Donnie? – and resisting his immigration about-face.
Poor Trumpet is so conflicted. He wants to appeal to his base – which doesn’t give a damn about incarcerated children – because he needs the base not only to keep him in power but to reflect his narcissistic glory. Yet kiddie Guantanamo has proved to be the third rail for the Teflon president who once famously said he could kill someone on Fifth Avenue and no one would care.
Well, lots of people care about kids in cages, because you know what? It’s a disgrace. It’s heartbreaking. Ivanka Trump knows this. I want to believe that Melania Trump knows this. And they’ve been drumming this into Donnie’s ear.
And yet, he said that he’d rather be strong than have a heart. That shows you he isn’t a strong person. He may be a tough person, but he’s not a strong one. A strong leader leads from the front by putting himself last. A strong leader protects the vulnerable. A strong leader can afford to be compassionate and merciful – qualities that will be returned to him.
Trump is many things. But strong is not one of them.