Great column by Michelle Goldberg about the fascist threat that has materialized:
We still talk about American fascism as a looming threat, something that could happen if we’re not vigilant. But for undocumented immigrants, it’s already here.
There are countless horror stories about what’s happening to immigrants under Trump. Just last week, we learned that a teenager from Iowa who had lived in America since he was 3 was killed shortly after his forced return to Mexico. This month, an Ecuadorean immigrant with an American citizen wife and a pending green card application was detained at a Brooklyn military base where he’d gone to deliver a pizza; a judge has temporarily halted his deportation, but he remains locked up. Immigration officers are boarding trains and buses and demanding that passengers show them their papers. On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decreed that most people fleeing domestic abuse or gang violence would no longer be eligible for asylum.
But what really makes Trump’s America feel like a rogue state is the administration’s policy of taking children from migrants caught crossing the border unlawfully, even if the parents immediately present themselves to the authorities to make asylum claims. “This is as bad as I’ve ever seen in 25 years of doing this work,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, told me. “The little kids are literally being terrorized.”
Family separations began last year — immigrant advocates aren’t sure exactly when — and have ramped up with the administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border without authorization. Over two weeks in May, more than 650 children were snatched from their parents.
The human consequences have been horrific. Last week, The New York Times described a 5-year-old boy from Honduras who had been separated from his father and cried himself to sleep at night with a stick-figure drawing of his family under his pillow. The Washington Post reported that Marco Antonio Muñoz, a 39-year-old who is also from Honduras, killed himself in a padded cell after his 3-year-old was wrenched from his arms.
But for now, what is happening is the sort of moral enormity that once seemed unthinkable in contemporary America, the kind captured in the Martin Niemöller poem that’s repeated so often it’s become a cliché: “First they came …” There is no reason to believe that undocumented immigrants will be the last group of people deemed beyond the law’s protection.
Senator Merkley told me he asked people working in the detention center if they were concerned about the impact that family separation would have on the children who had been put under their authority. The answer, he said, was, “We simply follow the orders from above.”
I would also suggest the Times stop running hagiographies of Mitt Romney, who captured the Republican nomination in 2012 in large measure by running to the furthest right on immigration policy and actively sought Trump’s endorsement. There’s no meaningful gap between Trump and Republican elites here.