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The face of compassion


You'll have to excuse us if Yr Wonkette isn't turning backflips over the news that Gen. John Kelly is moving from being secretary of Homeland Security to replacing Reince Priebus as Lord Dampnut's chief of staff. Not that we're any great fans of Priebus, who was always insufferable, but while Kelly may not be the same sort of slimy sycophant, we're already tired of the pundits swooning over him like a 1990s John Stamos. John Kelly's the grownup in the room, or the guy who'll finally bring some order to the nest of rabid ferrets running loose in the West Wing, that sort of thing. Sure, he's a military guy who Gets Things Done. But why hasn't there been more discussion of what he's been so good at getting done -- namely, turning Homeland Security into a mass deportation machine. Yeah, the man's good at his job. We'd rather not be too thrilled that tearing families apart and indiscriminately deporting people for any reason at all is the one area where the Trump administration isn't a disordered clusterfuck.

The Nation offers a brief look at just some of Kelly's "successes," which are not anything to be proud of unless you start with the assumption that all undocumented immigrants are an equal threat to national security, which of course Trump made clear from the start of his campaign. Only some, he supposed, were "good people," but they need to be swept up and disappeared like the rapists, murderers, and gang members, because really, they're all the same. The biggest changes Kelly instituted, with Trump's blessing (not that Trump bothers with policy details) in how DHS treats immigrants is the elimination of prosecutorial discretion -- no more of the Obama-era attempts to focus on deporting actual criminals while leaving law-abiding immigrants alone, because now a wingnut bumper sticker -- "What Part Of ILLEGAL Don't You Understand" -- has become policy. Anyone in violation of immigration rules is equally a criminal, whether they're stealing cars or working the line in a meatpacking plant:

On a practical level, immigration agents no longer have to think carefully about whether an undocumented immigrant they come across is a priority, because anyone who’s undocumented can go. As a result, those with no criminal records or those with the most minor of infractions are as much at risk as those with serious convictions.

Trump has, of course, only talked about the scariest, most horrific crimes by immigrants, because nobody's frightened of a nursing assistant who empties bedpans without a green card. And so the freakish, horrific murders committed by MS-13 are the reason we need to deport anyone without documentation, because they're all lawbreakers, aren't they? And if it turns out to be a lot easier to hang around elementary schools and courthouses to scoop up immigrant parents dropping off their kids or people filing for domestic violence protection orders than it is to go after criminal gangs, that's tough for the parents and abuse victims, but they can look on the bright side -- once the abuse victim is sent to Mexico, she'll be a lot farther away from her abuser than a protection order would have kept him, hooray.

In June, Kelly announced the administration would rescind Obama's policy of not deporting parents of children born in the USA -- Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) -- putting about 4 million people at risk of deportation. At the time, he said the smaller program to protect young people who were just children when they were brought to America -- Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, or DACA -- would remain in place. By mid-July, though, Kelly wasn't so sure. He told a Congressional panel that while he personally favors DACA, he couldn't guarantee the Trump administration would defend it in court, because why would it keep its word on protecting any of Those People?

Who else are we deporting like crazy? Who aren't we?! In Houston last week, ICE showed up to arrest several people who'd come to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office for -- wait for it -- their marriage interviews to get green cards. Yep, there they were, applying to get legal because they're married to citizens (and presumably had all the documents you need to prove you're not Gerard Depardieu in a so-so romantic comedy), and ICE was there, too, because they had other papers proving they were dangerous criminals -- like the 48-year-old Salvadoran who had failed to show up for a court hearing in 2006. Gotta get him out of the country even though he's legally married to a citizen. As we all know, most mass murderers have missed a court hearing at some point in their past, so this is keeping us safe.

Immigration attorney Manna Yegani is not representing the man, but has been publicizing the arrests; she says,

ICE is there and their clients being cuffed and at that point the attorney is helpless because we don't have the authority to stop that. Instead of coming forward to legalize themselves people are going into hiding.

You know, we want people to follow the law and become legal through proper channels. Unless we can nab 'em first. And then there's the infuriating banality-of-evil statement from ICE to a Houston teevee station:

A spokesman for ICE tells Fox 26 the agency has long had the authority to detain the undocumented family members of citizens and has now chosen to exercise the option of arrest when warranted.

Sure sounds like some of that "breaking up families" Team Trump said it wanted to avoid. Oh, and the kicker: If these people with American families do get deported, they may be eligible to come back in. After ten years.

Or maybe our Very Christian President -- who loves how God made a beautiful view for one of his golf courses -- might be moved by the plight of St. Joseph’s Church in Fort Edward, New York, where Rev. Tom Babiuch has lost quite a few members of his congregation: After an ICE roundup deported three people in the community, a dozen families have stopped coming to church out of fear that undocumented family members may be nabbed if they go out in public. The families -- about 50 members of the congregation -- used to take up about five rows of pews, which are now empty every Sunday. Rev. Babiuch has lost several altar boys and girls as a result, and he's not sure he recognizes the allegedly Christian nation he thought he lived in:

“This country has been built on Christian values and Christian messages. To do this to these people is totally un-Christian,” he said.

The families are now praying at home, mostly for deliverance from the tender ministrations of the Land of the Free. Which is now a place that refugees have to run away from, because Canada is safer. At least the law, in its majesty, is giving a fair shake to the most desperate border crossers, those who are fleeing violence in Central America: Immigration courts are happily rejecting huge numbers of asylum claims, because some judges have decided that fear of gang violence is not a valid reason for asylum. If you're being killed by your government, you may have a claim. But gangs? They're just criminals, so you don't have a real fear of repression. At least not from your government, now GIT!

So now John Kelly's going to bring his skills to the White House. Barring the slim hope he might deport Anthony Scaramucci back to the Planet of Yammering Sociopaths, we're not thrilled to see him getting even closer to this president.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please click the "Donate" thing, OK?

[The Nation / Medium / Politico / WaPo / Fox 26 Houston / Post-Star]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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