Vile, chilling, dangerous and life-threatening.

These words cannot adequately describe the Trump rally chants of “send her back,” referring to a U.S.-citizen congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who immigrated from Somalia as a child refugee; or the presidential tweets that inspired this chant, suggesting that Omar as well as three native-born U.S.-citizen congresswomen of color should all be deported.

(On Thursday, President Trump said he “wasn’t happy” with the chants at the Wednesday rally.)

Catherine Rampell mug

Catherine Rampell

Such racist, xenophobic rhetoric has inspired a lot of (deserved) outrage. But did Americans really need to hear these words to know that Trump considers immigrants and brown people to be subhuman? The actual policies his administration has been undertaking should have left no doubt.

Consider just a few developments this week alone, several of which have gotten scant media coverage.

Last weekend, roughly around the time of those notorious tweets, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was expected to begin rounding up undocumented immigrants — including some who were never properly notified about their immigration court hearings — in raids in at least nine major cities. Frightened families went into hiding — in their homes, secret rooms, churches. The raids were not as widespread as expected, but lingering terror continues to sap economic activity around the country.

Then on Monday, as the news media and public were consumed by those same tweets, the Trump administration announced a sweeping attack on asylum seekers.

The new rule, which went into effect the next day, bars protection for immigrants who failed to apply for asylum in at least one country they passed through before crossing into the United States.

It is intended to close the door to large numbers of Central Americans fleeing persecution, effectively sending them back to perilous conditions in their home countries or in Mexico.

This rule violates both domestic and international laws, including a decades-old agreement put into place partly to preclude a repeat of the world’s shameful treatment of Holocaust refugees. It guts our entire asylum system by extralegal fiat and was immediately challenged in court. A court had already blocked a similar, more limited Trump asylum ban late last year.

We’re not done yet.

On Wednesday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — the agency tasked with processing applications for legal immigration — asked its staffers to drop their congressionally assigned duties and agree to work in ICE field offices around the country instead, according to an email leaked to BuzzFeed.

There, USCIS employees would, among other things, facilitate a program forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their U.S. cases are adjudicated — yet another policy being challenged in court for violating U.S. immigration law.

Sadly, the week was not an aberration.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security sent its draft final regulation of the “public charge” rule to the White House for final review. This rule would make it more difficult for immigrants who’ve used noncash safety-net services to which they are legally entitled — or who are deemed at risk of ever using such services — to receive green cards or temporary visas.

The proposed rule already seems to be having a chilling effect on usage of benefits such as food stamps and health insurance by both immigrants and their U.S.-citizen children, even though it hasn’t yet gone into effect (and may never do so, as it, too, is likely to be challenged in court).

Earlier this month, the Justice Department submitted its own companion rule to the White House for initial review. That rule, whose text has not yet been made public, would reportedly make it easier to deport green-card holders who had — once again, legally — ever used safety-net benefits. Refugees may also be at risk.

This is just a partial summary of anti-immigrant actions taken this month.

It doesn’t include the forced family separation policy that began more than a year ago and resulted in at least 18 infants and toddlers as young as 4 months old being ripped from their parents; or the filthy conditions in which immigrant children have been confined, without toothbrushes or soap, some for weeks at a time; or the administration’s choice — and it is a choice — to detain people in inhumane conditions while they wait for their cases to be adjudicated, rather than releasing them; or, of course, Trump’s attempts to bar all Muslim immigrants from U.S. soil.

By all means, we must continue to condemn Trump’s virulently bigoted rhetoric. But we never needed him to talk the talk to know what he thinks.

He’s long been walking the walk.

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Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell can be reached at crampell@washpost.com.


(5) comments


The Republicans in no way, shape or form can claim moral superiority over Democrats by being self proclaimed "Christians." They have proven to be fake, fraudulent, believers of faith.


More "campaign whackiness" coming! Juat wait!


First. All pols are liars, some more than others. Second. You do the same things and expect change you are stupid, nuts or both. Third. You are only what you do, if you think otherwise, you are a fool, nuts or both. Pols, generally speaking all do the same things. The "hows" count.


The laws for illegal immigrants have been on the books for years voted in as laws from a bipartisan vote. Trump is nowhere near deporting the number of illegal immigrants that Obama deported. Funny how Obama could say it was a crisis, dems were all up in arms about how they needed to be deported, but now President Trump says it you think the worlds going to end. Funny how that works. Plenty of video footage of both Obama and dems screaming for deportation just a few short years ago. I think Obama deported over 3 million people. Trump is under 600,000. Funny how that works.


One of the most torrentially hypocritical behaviours of the conservative right is their blaring support for free speech and anti-PC. Yet at the same time, they feel that by espousing and expressing those beliefs, that they don't have to be held accountable for the racist, sexist, bigoted individuals that they are. What a bunch of pansy arsd losers that can't even own up to their own beliefs. Totally unaware of their own ignorance. Ignorance of ignorance. Bo.

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