When I found out that Kirstjen Nielsen was resigning as Human Services secretary, I posted this on Facebook:
“If the Cruella de Ville of the border isn’t tough enough for Trump, I’m thinking we won’t be getting another DHS secretary, for lack of qualified applicants. Last I checked, Madame Mao, Leni (Riefenstahl), and Evita are still dead. Nielsen deserves no sympathy but again, Trump is getting very bad, unsound advice from a bald millennial (Stephen Miller) who never had hands-on experience in the immigration field. Not good.”
Not surprisingly, many of my conservative FB family disagreed, because they don’t believe people have a right to seek asylum. And I’m done trying to parse words and explain away the misconceptions about the immigration process, because nuance stands no chance against fierce, catchy slogans like “We’re full.” If I hear someone tell me one more time that immigrants are OK as long as they come in legally, I think I will shove my miniature replica of the Statue of Liberty down my throat.
I regularly find myself on the edge of two opposing tectonic plates, just waiting for the earthquake to happen. I sympathize, as a conservative, with the desire to have order at the border and be fair to those fortunate enough to be able to do it the “right way.” Yet I also understand that life isn’t always that tidy, much less equitable. The Evangelical Christian kid fleeing the gang that killed his father while he was preaching in church has just as much a right to live here as the highly skilled mechanical engineer who got his master’s at MIT or the tourist who fell in love with his cute American tour guide and got hitched before his visa expired.
Which brings me to another skirmish on Facebook recently. I had posted a link to an article about the cruel pushback Ivanka Trump was getting when she posted a photo of her youngest son Theodore sleeping on the floor instead of in his bed. She made a cute comment about perhaps putting him back in his crib. The mean-spirited minions of social media took that as an opportunity to attack the president’s daughter for the child separation policies — which really do represent an embarrassing moment for our national character. That was cruel and unnecessary. People taking out their anger on a sweet moment involving a little boy are beyond contempt. One so-called comedian wrote: “What about cages, isn’t that your thing?” So much for tolerant liberals.
But to be fair, the policy they’re critiquing does highlight the worst of Trump’s immigration agenda, which we’ll get more of with Nielsen out of office.
And not just from the administration. In response to the Ivanka link, a FB acquaintance who was angered at the attack on the president’s daughter wrote the following:
“Sure, we need more people who are functionally illiterate in their own countries and will never be literate in the U.S., with IQs that are below the U.S. average, and social mores that are incompatible with ours. Like we all need a hole in the head.”
That’s where we’ve come to, people, with this sick sense of superiority drummed up by a man like Stephen Miller, who has completely forgotten the immigration history of his Jewish ancestors.
And so I pushed back against my now-former FB friend:
“My most recent asylum client has a doctorate in immunology. He was shot at by the Taliban during his work with an NGO, for vaccinating children against disease. The Taliban hate western phenomena like inoculation. He has a bullet in his leg they can’t remove, and a limp.”
So much for “incompatible, uneducated illegals.”
I had my problems with Nielsen. But she was a policy wonk who tried to follow the law. In getting rid of her, the White House is signaling that it wants to take an even sharper turn in the dark direction that gave us child separation and quotes about low IQs and sub-par “social mores.”
Count me out.
Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.