DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen Steps Down

Image for post
Image for post

April 8, 20919 (Washington DC) We can only wonder what kind of clashes there were between Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and President Donald Trump. What we do know is that she has stepped down. Reportedly the president is fuming over the failure of his policies at the border. There is a young Svengali in the White House that has directed many of the draconian changes in American immigration over the last two years.

It is ironic that Stephen Miller is the descendant of poor Jews who came to the United States at the turn of the last century. His family would be the exact same economic refugees that Miller despises.

His uncle David Glosser told this to Politico last August:

I have watched with dismay and increasing horror as my nephew, an educated man who is well aware of his heritage, has become the architect of immigration policies that repudiate the very foundation of our family’s life in this country.

I shudder at the thought of what would have become of the Glossers had the same policies Stephen so coolly espouses — the travel ban, the radical decrease in refugees, the separation of children from their parents, and even talk of limiting citizenship for legal immigrants — been in effect when Wolf-Leib made his desperate bid for freedom. The Glossers came to the U.S. just a few years before the fear and prejudice of the “America first” nativists of the day closed U.S. borders to Jewish refugees. Had Wolf-Leib waited, his family likely would have been murdered by the Nazis along with all but seven of the 2,000 Jews who remained in Antopol. I would encourage Stephen to ask himself if the chanting, torch-bearing Nazis of Charlottesville, whose support his boss seems to court so cavalierly, do not envision a similar fate for him.

Yet Miller has become the architect, behind the scenes, of many of the policies that are not just un-American but go against international law. Separating families might even qualify as genocide. Last year Genocide Watch issued this as part of a longer statement:

The current administration’s policy of separating children builds upon almost a decade of increasingly coercive border policies towards refugees and migrants that developed under the Obama administration. An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report from 2018 documented a startling increase in and apparent tolerance for the abuse of children at the border, including “a pattern of intimidation, harassment, physical abuse, refusal of medical services, improper deportation between 2009 and 2014.” The report also documented instances of sexual and verbal abuse, including rape and death threats. The majority of these children had arrived in the United States alone. Under previous administrations, coercive family separation was used sparingly. Most families arriving together were charged with misdemeanors and released.

The policy of “zero tolerance” departs from established practice by charging adults at the border with criminal charges in federal court. There are reports that even asylum seekers are being criminally charged, in contravention of US and international law. These measures are a radicalization of prior policies that come on the heels of a series of new challenges to established protections for documented and undocumented immigrants in the United States as well as attempted blanket travel bans directed at people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

As expressed by the United Nations in several statements in June, forcibly separating children from their parents is a grave violation of the rights of the child and of the rights of refugees. Although the United States has not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the family separation policy still breaches US legal obligations under other international human rights conventions.

These are very serious concerns. However, some of these policies started under the previous administration. They were, as Vox put it, mostly punitive. The current policies are punitive.

We know some will celebrate that the secretary has stepped down. There is something to celebrate I suppose when somebody gets even a figment of a conscience. And I know I am giving her some credit that she likely does not deserve. She has defended family separation and other policies that have led straight to the present crisis. However, the president has blamed her for the failures of policies that ultimately he has authorized.

So let’s make this clear. If anybody is expecting the acting secretary, or a successor, to follow better policies, forget about it. It simply will not happen. This administration is hell-bent on stopping the flow of people that the president, and people like Miller, think are less than human. We know this. The president has referred to asylum seekers as animals. Any student of genocides should be properly alarmed. Once you start speaking this way, the killing fields are not far behind.

We know Miller wants harsher policy, which is fairly confusing for a Jew. He is embracing the same kind of policies that led to the death of millions, some in his family, at the hand of the Nazis. Which speaks volumes about Miller, but also does point to the rising fascism in the United States, which could lead to another episode of ethnic cleansing along the southern border. Trump admires Operation Wetback, which is the largest deportation of Mexican Americans, many born in the United States, in American history.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store