Legally, there’s the presumption of innocence; morally, there’s the presumption of humanity.
I was brought up to respect everyone’s humanity, and his or her human rights. I learned that most humans, most notably myself, were flawed; and did regrettable things.
But absent indictable acts, and sometimes notwithstanding them, I believe people should be treated, first and foremost, as human beings, their dignity respected.
This basic respect should override all variations in their wealth or special skills, their legal status or social standing, their race, religion or national origin.
But now, human beings who are undocumented immigrants are being singled out by the Federal Government for disrespect, given treatment that is considered “good enough” – for them. But not the treatment we give to humans we call friends. Not what we would accept for ourselves.
The Obama era rule on immigrants was, unless they were criminals, they were granted human rights, civil rights, and legal rights, to ask for asylum, to live here in America in freedom, as long as they obeyed the law, until their case was decided.
The Obama government broke its rule, sometimes cruelly, thousands of times. But it was still the rule, and was usually followed.
Under President Trump, the rules are being changed, dramatically and decisively.
There are now more people doing more ICE, — Immigration and Customs Enforcement — raids, bigger ones, and some report, rougher ones. Immigrants are being rounded up by the hundreds, usually early in the morning when there are fewer non-immigrant witnesses to see how it’s done. And many of them have no criminal records.
Although many are now being treated like criminals, not civil detainees. That’s another part of the new Trump Rules, which also seem to lower standards for food, accommodation and treatment in custody.
And legal rights for arrested immigrants are largely gone. No lawyers, so appeals. The Supreme Court has OKed “expedited removal,” — the bum’s rush to Mexico. — “Expedited removal” was once reserved for the worst cases – but now it’s everyday business.
And it’s working – on them. Arrivals at our southern border of illegal immigrants are at a 15 year low, according to the Customs and Border Protection Service.
But is it also working on us, is it working on our government?
A few days ago James McCament, acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, officially asked permission to end “temporary protected status” for Haitians and start sending 50,000 refugees home.
McCament admitted things were still pretty bad in Haiti, devastated by historic hurricanes and earthquakes and an epidemic of cholera, — but had “improved enough,” he said, for them — the Haitian refugees — to be tossed from the U.S.
These are our government’s values of Trump Time.
Caitlin Dickerson is a reporter for the New York Times, based in New York City. For the past year, Caitlin has been covering the many ramifications of the immigration issue.