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Michelle Brané (dir. migrant rights and justice program, Women’s Refugee Commission): “I think that the people making policy decisions don’t want [the system] to work … they want to create chaos.”


The strategy behind many of the decisions put out by the White House seems to be to create maximum confusion: gutting many agencies, leaving vacancies in critical positions, closing offices, cutting budgets, appointing heads of agencies who had been lobbying against them for years, reversing the policies of the previous administration at every turn.  Their agenda is described as “virulent” anti-immigration.  Another pretext is the addition of a citizenship question to the census; the forms go to the printers on June 30 and the Supreme Court is poised to allow the question despite evidence that the question will reduce participation and add a roughly 5% undercount.

Immigration (legal, that is) has plunged from 100,000 people in the last year of the Obama administration to 25,000 this year.  Additional layers of red tape have been added to programs that were barely functional to begin with.  A man with terminal cancer whose case was discovered while he was in prison was given perhaps 3 months to live; he was swiftly deported to a land that he hadn’t seen since childhood– where no-one was available to take care of him in his last days.  A physician practicing medicine in a shortage area was detained and deported over a twenty-year-old misdemeanor.

The White House has refined cruelty to a remarkable degree and maximized chaos in systems that were already on the verge of breakdown.  There is only a small step from here to concentration camps for refugees– indefinite detention has already been endorsed by the Attorney General.    It now takes as much as two years for an asylum case to be judged.  The practice of “indefinite detention” could mean that many or most of the 100,000 refugees who now surrender each month could be detained for two years and then deported.   This could mean as many as two million people in custody after two years– not just men but women and children as well.

No-one in the administration has made any effort to reduce the backlog of asylum cases by increasing the number of judges or streamlining the process.  Their efforts toward easing the backlog were limited to a tweeted declaration that refugees should not be allowed access to a judge to state their cases.  Apparently the judgement as to who deserves asylum is to be left to the arresting officers at ICE.  There seems to be a feeling in the executive branch that the US has no obligation to accept refugees– even when it is responsible for the conditions that created the refugees in the first place.

The latest wrinkle in the campaign of deliberate chaos is the discovery that there are 2,000 detention beds sitting empty while the Border Patrol claims they are running out of space and is releasing people to the street.  Charitable organizations have been overloaded with released refugees who need housing, food, and transportation to a safe place (many have relatives already in the US.)  The production of chaos has been maximized.

The alternative, humane strategy would be to determine what places in the US need an infusion of young people.  At first sight, there are many places in the Midwest where the population has been dropping for years, with the average age rising at the same time.  Resettlement of refugees in places where there has been a loss of population would make it possible for the immigrants to begin work at the jobs where they are needed, such as nursing homes.  Families from farms in central America could be integrated into farms in the US, benefitting the locals.

The point is that the United States can readily integrate refugees into areas in this country that have lost population due to movement of citizens to the cities.  There is no need to turn these people away.  There is plenty of room in this country for refugees.

(photo courtesy of and StockSnap) 

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