Bone to the Base


Is the Trump administration preparing to throw a bone to the base? Chinese media is reporting that the administration is working with key members of Congress, preparing to “rescind” the Dreamer Act that allows undocumented immigrants to remain in the US (those who were brought here as minors).

The conservative position common in Red States, including among many libertarians and Christians, is that these immigrants are “illegal” and should be deported. Never mind the backstory: that Washington and Mexico City colluded to destroy Mexican agriculture, and that Washington, the states, and major corporations facilitated illegal immigration in the 1990s by handing out drivers lienses, mortgages, bank loans, and car loans. But that was back in the day when their labor was more sorely needed. That was back when being undocumented was an unenforced misdemeanor.

I disagree with liberals and most democrats on many things (including gun control) but they tend to be right about the Dream Act. There is something deeply unethical, even un-American, about deporting someone who was brought forceably to the US as a child, and who has little or no connection to their country or origin.

Across the political spectrum in the US, people love to point to “international law” when its suits them. The interventionists – among whom are included many conservatives and neo-conservatives – point to United Nations “humanitarian law” to justify intervention in Syria, for example. Never mind that this process technically requires UN Security Council approval, with Russia and China signing off…

In any case, international law contains numerous conventions on the rights of the child, the rights of people who have been “trafficked,” and even the rights of undocumented, “stateless” people. There are laws and conventions that could be invoked to prevent undocumented minors (or people trafficked here as minors) from being deported.

In a perfect world, there should be consequences, ultimately, for people who violate those laws and conventions. That’s what the International Criminal Court is for, in theory. People who participate in a round-up of those brought to the US when they were, say, four years old, should definitely sit in an iron cage in The Hague.

But it will probably not come to that. Most likely, there will be some deal made in a smoke-filled room, and the administration’s effort to “rescind” will be so technically restricted and narrow that it will apply to no one. On paper it will look good. There will be some back-patting in Congress.

And the Trump administration will be able to throw a bone (a paper one) to its base, which depends on targeting marginal and disenfranchised populations.

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