The Biden People Need to Get the Tentacles of the Previous Administration Off of Immigration Policy

·4-min read
Photo credit: PAUL RATJE - Getty Images
Photo credit: PAUL RATJE - Getty Images

The one unqualified botch of the current administration is on immigration. Yes, the “crisis” on the southern border has been hyped up by the loyalists of the previous administration*. But the current president and his team are still floundering on the issue and, in addition, floundering badly in their attempts to explain their floundering. On Monday, Politico reported that Harold Koh, a senior administration adviser at the State Department, was resigning. In a memo explaining why, he pretty much put a torch to his bridges.

In a detailed legal memo dated October 2 and obtained by POLITICO, Harold Koh, a senior adviser and the sole political appointee on the State Department’s legal team, called the use of the public health authority known as Title 42 “illegal,” “inhumane” and “not worthy of this Administration that I so strongly support.”

“I believe this Administration’s current implementation of the Title 42 authority continues to violate our legal obligation not to expel or return (“refouler”) individuals who fear persecution, death, or torture, especially migrants fleeing from Haiti,” the memo reads. He added that “lawful, more humane alternatives plainly exist.”

Title 42 is an odious leftover from the previous administration*, and it draws on some of the most odious anti-immigration arguments of the past century and a half. It allows the country to ban immigrants during a public-health crisis, a fig-leaf used by the folks at Camp Runamuck to exercise the classic xenophobic trope that immigrants bring in disease. (In our current public-health crisis, we are all more endangered by Republican governors and nutballs disrupting school-board meetings than we are by Guatemalans.) The current administration has gone along with this, and its rationale is consistent with that of its predecessor, with all that entails.

“Title 42 is a public health authority, not an immigration one, and that authority rests with the [Center for Disease Control and Prevention],” a White House official said. “The CDC has determined that the continued expulsion of certain individuals under Title 42 is necessary due to the risks of transmission and spread of COVID-19 in congregate settings, such as U.S. Customs and Border Patrol stations, as well as the threat from emerging variants.” A senior State Department official added: “We defer to the CDC on decisions related to Title 42.”

Dodge! Duck! Dip! Dive! Dodge!

State Department spokesman Patches O’Houlihan had no comment.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki didn’t fare any better than the other “White House official” did, although, in her defense, she was still picking pieces of Mitch McConnell and the debt limit out of her teeth from earlier in her press conference.

I have not seen the memo. We do not see Title 42 as an immigration policy. It is a public health authority and it is determined by the CDC. It is also true that there are several exceptions, including those who are fleeing persecution, who express a concern or fear, those who have health issues. It remains in place because we are in the middle of a pandemic, but it is not an accurate depiction of what our policy actually is.

This is a classic non-hunting dog. The White House can get the CDC to jump any time it wants. In addition, the exception to which Psaki refers isn’t for people “fleeing persecution” or who simply “express a concern or fear.” It’s specifically designed to help asylum seekers who are fleeing torture. And, in any case, this administration is continuing a policy that was based on a) a 75-year-old public-health law, and b) a grotesque lie from the stalactite-riddled brain of Stephen Miller, who is what you find on the bottom of El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago’s shoe. And good Christian Vice President Mike Pence was Miller’s puppet on this one. From the AP:

The top Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doctor who oversees these types of orders had refused to comply with a Trump administration directive saying there was no valid public health reason to issue it, according to three people with direct knowledge of the doctor’s refusal. So Pence intervened in early March. The vice president, who had taken over the Trump administration’s response to the growing pandemic, called Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director, and told him to use the agency’s special legal authority in a pandemic anyway.

But there was little doubt who was the slime out of which this policy sprang.

But Stephen Miller, a top aide to President Donald Trump who has been a vocal opponent of immigration, pushed for the expulsion order. “That was a Stephen Miller special. He was all over that,” said Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Pence, who coordinated the White House coronavirus task force. She recently resigned in protest, saying the administration had placed politics above public health. “There was a lot of pressure on DHS and CDC to push this forward.”

The White House needs to detach the tentacles of the previous group of sociopathic clowns from every institution of government. Have an idea, people.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting