As Trump Embraces Human Rights Violators Abroad, His Administration Commits Them At Home

While Donald Trump praised Kim Jong-un, his policy of separating immigrant families escalated
President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

On June 12th, at 9 am in Singapore, President Donald Trump did what no other U.S. President has been willing to do: grant a face-to-face meeting with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, the biggest human rights violator in the world.

With American flags perched next to North Korea’s, President Trump elevated Kim Jong-un onto the world stage. The meeting itself was a concession. Meeting the President of the United States has been an objective of the Kim regime for generations. President Trump made concession after concession, but one of the most significant was the promise of stopping joint-military exercises with South Korea (which reportedly caught the South Koreans off guard). In return, North Korea signed a small piece of paper promising to work towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has agreed to more substantive agreements in the past and backtracked. Also important to note that denuclearization means something entirely different to Kim Jong-un than it does to Trump. In spite of this, President Trump continued to tout this “deal” and claimed North Korea is “no longer a nuclear threat.”

What makes this worse is the fact President Trump didn’t broach the issue of human rights and lavished Dictator Kim Jong-un with an enormous, unnecessary amount of praise. Trump claimed that Kim Jong-un (who has executed and starved his people, holds over 100,000 political prisoners in labor camps, killed members of his own family, and restricts basic freedoms) “loves his people” and “his country does love him.”

As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews noted, this is part of a pattern. President Trump enjoys cozying up to authoritarian leaders, from the Philippines, to Turkey, to Russia. All while lambasting our democratic allies. Many conservatives have pointed to President Obama’s visit to Cuba as justification for this, but Obama always made a point to challenge autocratic leaders for their human rights violations, as he did with Raul Castro.

Perhaps President Trump doesn’t broach the issue of human rights with authoritarian leaders because he doesn’t value human rights.

While President Trump was abroad, here at home Americans were reacting to the news of Attorney General Jeff Sessions ending protections for asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence and gang violence. This news came as a flood of reports continued to detail the horrific policy of immigrant children being separated from their parents at America’s southern border – including a Washington Post story detailing a Honduran father killing himself after his child was taken from him.

On May 7, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued an order, which DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen implemented, that requires all undocumented immigrants crossing the border be referred for criminal prosecution…including migrants seeking asylum from violence.

The move would also mean that even if immigrants caught at the border illegally have valid asylum claims, they could still end up with federal criminal convictions on their record regardless of whether a judge eventually finds they have a right to live and stay in the US.

Many of these migrants are asylum seekers, fleeing violence and cruelty from Central America only to be welcomed by more cruelty from the country that has “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” enshrined on its Statue of Liberty. NBC News reported:

From October 2017 to mid-April, before the new prosecution strategy officially went into effect, more than 700 children were reportedly separated from their parents at the border.

Since then, it appears there have been at least 1,000 children who have been separated. Vox reported:

From May 7 to May 21, according to statistics provided by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to Congress, 658 children were split from 638 adults put into the “prosecution process.”

But the pace may be picking up. Federal defenders in McAllen counted 421 parents coming into court between May 21 and June 5 — and that represents just one Border Patrol sector, though admittedly the highest-traffic one for family crossings. (Many of those parents could have been apprehended and split from their children during the May 7-21 period and counted in the Customs and Border Protection stats.)

There are reports of babies at the breastfeeding age being ripped from their mother’s arms…

We’ve also learned a little about what happens to these children after they’ve been taken. NBC News reported that the U.S. is running out of room to house the children, and they are being placed into holding cells that don’t have adequate medical resources:

Border agents and child welfare workers are running out of space to shelter children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border as part of the Trump administration’s new “zero tolerance” policy, according to two U.S. officials and a document obtained by NBC News.

As of Sunday, nearly 300 of the 550 children currently in custody at U.S. border stations had spent more than 72 hours there, the time limit for immigrants of any age to be held in the government’s temporary facilities. Almost half of those 300 children are younger than 12, according to the document, meaning they are classified by the Department of Homeland Security as “tender age children.”

The report goes on to say:

The overstays at border stations are a result of a backlog at U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS), the agency responsible for sheltering migrant children longer term and matching them with relatives or foster parents in the U.S. The agency’s Administration for Children and Families has 11,200 unaccompanied children in its care and takes 45 days on average to place a child with a sponsor, according to a spokesperson.

The United Nations has condemned this as an illegal human rights violation.

It appears President Trump envisions an America that doesn’t value human rights on the world stage or here at home. President Trump also sees the American media as a bigger threat than the human rights violating Dictators he tries to curry favor with.

I’ve written these next few lines many times, but it bears repeating.

This is not America.

America has done unconscionable things in the past from slavery to Japanese internment camps to unjustified wars, but we must learn from that historical indecency, not embrace it.

The beauty of America is that despite who we were in the past or who we are today, we as a people have the power to choose who we will be tomorrow.

Who will we decide to be at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020?

News // Donald Trump / Human Rights / Immigration / North Korea