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Wed Jun 26, 2019, 08:35 PM

How We Left the Door Open for Trump to Do This to Children

House Democrats, voting nearly in unison Tuesday night, countered human rights abuses worthy of the Hague’s attention with more words and money. I won’t waste space with the words, because it isn’t all that courageous to cuss out an administration for arguing in court to deny migrant children in government custody toothbrushes and soap — or for actually doing it, while also refusing citizen efforts to donate the supplies. Lawyers allowed into the Clint, Texas facility by virtue of the 1997 Flores settlement, which governs the treatment of children in U.S. custody, told The New York Times late last week that kids were being held far longer than the 72 hours they were legally allowed and that some as young as seven and eight, “many of them wearing clothes caked with snot and tears, are caring for infants they’ve just met” and that “toddlers without diapers are relieving themselves in their pants.” Another report detailed lice and influenza there. One lawyer observed that most of the children hadn’t bathed.

The problem stretches far beyond that one facility. ABC News reported that at a Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, a doctor observed children subjected to conditions so awful that they were “tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease,” including what she described as extreme cold temperatures, lights left on for 24 hours a day, and zero access to adequate water, food, medical care, or basic sanitation. Lawyers forced Border Patrol to hospitalize four toddlers who were exhibiting symptoms of fever, cough, vomiting and diarrhea.

As for the money, though, the measure would allocate $4.5 billion that the Trump administration is supposed to spend on humanitarian aid. There are supposedly sufficient restrictions to ensure that, though not enough to convince the progressive bloc of four female, first-year representatives of color: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Only they, and every Republican for different reasons, voted against the bill.

Those four women did the right thing. Mitch McConnell’s Senate Republicans will surely now attempt to pass their more obsequious bill, so I can’t say that House Democrats implicitly endorsed the continuing state of affairs with an imperfect bill. But there really is no reason to trust the Trump administration with a dime of border funds until it ends the abuse of children there. The president is showing himself to be above the law in an entirely new way, caging kids in conditions that would certainly have a poor mother or father brought up on charges right now had they treated their own offspring like this. Trump — with advisor Stephen Miller’s guidance and the endorsement of people like Mark Morgan, his newest acting Customs and Border Protection head — have turned undocumented people into political hostages, dangling the prospect of a potentially violent and certainly reckless nationwide siege of apprehensions. I’ll do it unless the Democrats do what I want, tweets the dastardly villain.



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