The heartless in power: Making it impossible to seek refuge in the United States

We are living in a modern time. The president of the United States has been impeached by the House of Representatives. Two articles of impeachment accusing Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress were adopted. He was not impeached for having separated families of asylum seekers, sending children away from their parents, leading to child deaths and missing children. He received no official reproof for all kinds of suggestions he made to make the southern frontier of the United States a place of cruelty. When he suggested to shut down the border, his advisers, reportedly astonished, told him that this decision would trap American tourists in Mexico and would affect the precious asymmetrical NAFTA trade agreement and therefore the economy. The president made many other cruel suggestions, for instance, building an electrified wall with spikes to pierce human flesh (the precision is important), fortifying the wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators. He also had the idea of shooting the legs of people, of the wretched of the earth to use Franz Fanon’s terms, who are crossing the border without proper documentation.

This is the same president who ordered the veto of UN resolution 2467 on ending sexual violence in war unless the health section including sexual and reproductive health was removed. These decisions are real: they show the schism between rights and laws and rights, between precaritized women, children and men, and the laws of men of power. 

The heartless reveal themselves in their hypocritical policies, flouting basic ethical principles. The Trump administration has shaped a new level of cruelty with its immigration policies. The president explained in the simplistic and shallow language of his policy: “Our country is full—can’t take anymore—so turn around that’s the way it is.” They even came up with a senseless title for this policy, “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), which forces asylum seekers reaching the southern border of the United States to return to hazardous and dangerous areas in Mexico. There have been numerous reports of rape, kidnapping, and torture of asylum seekers stuck in Mexico. 

To prove the insensitive character of this policy, the acting commissioner Department of Homeland Security justified it as an alternative to family separation; communication is key in pushing heartless policies.  Alternative is a big word in neoliberal language, either we don’t have any and public systems have to be dismantled or the alternative is to dismantle the asylum system, claiming to “restore integrity in the immigration system.” Meanwhile Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), dismissed the numerous public reports (about 636) of rape, torture, kidnapping as “anecdotal stuff.” 

Meanwhile, asylum seekers have no chance to get a hearing that lasts more than a few minutes in the tent courts making it practically impossible to pass these screenings, according to US senator Jeff Merkley’s office. In the spirit of unfairness, fake hearing notices have been sent to asylum seekers. MPP combined with two other immigration policies will bar the asylum process, making it impossible to seek refuge in the United States, a country fully in the hands of white supremacist and heartless people. 

(Photo Credit 1: Loren Elliott / Reuters / Washington Post) (Photo Credit 2: Time)

About Brigitte Marti

Brigitte Marti is an organizer researcher who has worked on reproductive rights and women's health initiatives in France and in the European Union and on women prisoners' issues in the United States. She is a member of Women Included, a new transnational feminist collective, that is part of the Women 7, a coalition that advocates for the inclusion of women's rights in the G7.