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“Remember the St. Louis”

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Passengers aboard the MS St. Louis, May 13, 1939-June 17, 1939 (see https://thejewishnews.com/2018/06/07/americans-and-the-holocaust-memorial-museum/)

A new Human Rights Watch report claims that more than two hundred of the refugees that the Trump administration sent back to El Salvador have been killed, sexually assaulted, or otherwise become victims of the violence that drove them to seek asylum in the United States. As Nicole Acevedo and Adiel Kaplan write for NBC News:

The group’s investigation found that from 2013 to 2019, 138 people were killed and more than 70 others were beaten, sexually assaulted, extorted or tortured after they were sent back to the Central American country.

The report, released Wednesday, highlights the risks Salvadorans face when sent back to a country facing a humanitarian crisis, racked by extreme levels of violence. It emphasizes how efforts in the last few years by the Trump administration to restrict legal immigration — particularly asylum — have hit Salvadorans especially hard.

“This has been a brick-by-brick erection of a legal wall by the Trump administration in an attempt to effectively end asylum in the U.S.,” the report’s co-author, Alison Leal Parker, told NBC News. “Salvadorans are by no means the only nationality, but they are one of the populations that will suffer greatly from this.”

I lifted the title of this post from the caption a friend of mine added to this story when she shared it on Facebook. She’s exactly right. There’s no point in decrying past injustices if you refuse to apply the same principles to the present – if it just so happens that every contemporary instance is, you know, different. If, as David Reiff puts it, “never again” becomes “Never again will Germans kill Jews in Europe in the 1940s.”

It’s even worse when we condemn a past wrong to provide cover for a present wrong. That’s what Chief Justice John Roberts did when he nominally overruled Korematsu v. United States while redeploying its animating spirit to, as Scott put it, reach the absurd conclusion “that Trump is owed greater deference than FDR was while WWII was ongoing” and thus employing the same “blindness and bad faith the Court demonstrated in Korematsu.”

That blindness, unfortunately, kills.

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