• April 24th, 2024
  • Wednesday, 11:09:04 AM

Cruelty as State Policy

Photo: Jill Marie Holslin/Sierra Club. The border wall, a monument to racism and cruelty.

Javier Sierra


It’s abundantly clear that the country’s immigration policy is run by extremely cruel and inept politicians.

On a radio interview a few years ago, Ken Cuccinelli compared Latino families to “rats, raccoons” and other pests. Today, Cuccinelli—whose Italian ancestors escaped poverty and misery by immigrating to the US—is the acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service. And the White House’s most radical immigration-policy faction is pushing for him to become the new secretary of Homeland Security.

It’s abundantly clear that the country’s immigration policy is run by extremely cruel and inept politicians.

According to The New York Times book Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration, a frustrated Donald Trump once ordered his advisors to shut down the Mexican border, shoot immigrants in the legs, and fortify the wall with a moat filled with alligators and snakes.

Trump did not fulfill his medieval dream, but his cruel racism continues to wreak havoc at the border. The American Civil Liberties Union recently reported that the administration separated 1,500 more immigrant children than what was previously thought, thus raising the total of minors ripped from their parents arms to more than 5,400.

Another report by Human Rights First revealed that Trump’s policy of forcing asylum seekers to wait in México—some 50,000 people right now—has caused more than 350 cases of rape, kidnapping, torture, and other violent crimes. A similar study by the US Immigration Policy Center that interviewed more than 600 applicants in Mexico confirmed this new Trump administration crisis. One of the authors of the report told The Washington Post that “we are literally sending people potentially to die,” adding that by doing so, the United States is abandoning its international human rights commitments.

In the middle of all this chaos and cruelty, the construction of Trump’s racist wall advances with devastating consequences for the environment. So far, the work has decimated 600 acres of public lands—bulldozing native plants, cutting off endangered wildlife migration corridors, and draining precious water resources throughout the Southwest.

The environmental damage of new construction in Arizona includes countless cacti being torn apart and destruction of archaeological sites in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Pumping ground water to mix concrete for border wall construction threatens to dry up fragile desert wetlands at Quitobaquito Springs and the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona.

Meanwhile in Texas, border wall construction is beginning adjacent to the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, just south of the 3,300-acre Las Palomas refuge tract, which is home to white-winged doves and many other native wildlife species.

Even so, abandoning any trace of professional shame, acting director of the Bureau of Land Management William Pendley lied that the border wall is “addressing the environmental crisis impacting our nation’s most vulnerable lands.” This phony environmentalist—a hard-core climate denier to boot—defends the ecological catastrophe that the wall is by falsely arguing that the border is “overrun by illegals, and people with firearms, people bringing in drugs.”

In reality, the border, its astoundingly beautiful landscape and, above all, the people who live there and those who come to this country seeking a better life are overrun by the inept and racist immigration policy of Trump, Cuccinelli, Pendley, and so many others.

Their words about rats, raccoons, alligators and snakes leave no doubt that, for them, cruelty is a matter of state policy.


Javier Sierra is a Columnist with the Sierra Club. Follow him on Twitter @javier_SC


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