Thursday 20 June 2019

Karen Tumulty: 'President's callous point-scoring over loss of children's lives is a new low'

 

U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Reuters

Karen Tumulty in Washington

With Donald Trump, there is no bottom. Every time you think you have seen it, the president somehow manages to sink even lower.

It is not news that Mr Trump is indifferent to human suffering. His limp response to the devastation of the 2017 hurricane in Puerto Rico stands out in that regard.

But on Saturday, we saw yet another level of depravity when he made his first comments regarding the deaths of two migrant Guatemalan children after they were apprehended by federal authorities.

It revealed not only callousness but also opportunism, as he sought to turn this tragedy into a partisan advantage in his standoff with Democrats over the government shutdown.

"Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally," he began.

There wasn't a word of sympathy in his two angry tweets on the subject - much less remorse on the part of the government over the deaths of a seven-year-old girl and eight-year-old boy while in its custody.

Nor did Mr Trump address questions that are being raised about whether the administration's new policy seeking to limit the ability of immigrants to seek asylum protection might be a factor in putting more at risk.

Then there was the dissonance. His blast came on a day Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was visiting Yuma, Arizona, after stopping in El Paso, Texas. Her department promised more thorough medical screenings and called on other agencies to help.

Even if Mr Trump were to get funding for the wall, that would be many months if not years in the future. This is an immediate crisis, for which the president seems to have no concern.

Nor does he address the fact that what he claims are Democratic policies have been in place for decades, and yet, until this month, it had been more than a decade since a child died in Customs and Border Protection custody.

It is true that greater numbers of vulnerable Central American children are being put into treacherous situations.

But as Mr Trump fulminates about the wall, he rarely brings up the idea of doing anything about the source of the problem: the desperation of people who are being driven from their native countries by poverty and violence.

Until those forces are addressed, migrants will keep coming, even if it means taking greater risks to do so.

In the meantime, we have a president who is willing to politicise the deaths of children to score points against the opposition party. And the most shocking thing about seeing him scrape along a new moral bottom is this: It is no longer shocking at all. (© Washington Post)

Irish Independent

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