Andrew Kramer: Treatment of refugees is a dark stain on America

Trump and his administration — backed by feckless Republican politicians — have intentionally created a humanitarian crisis at our southern border and at most detention centers.

As reported by the DHS Inspector General, conditions for immigrants are appalling - overcrowding, squalor, stench, hunger, lack of basic needs and sanitation, and grossly inadequate medical care. Many lack necessities like toothbrushes, soap and access to showers. Some are given rotten food and told to drink from toilets. Many holding pens are so overcrowded there’s no space to lie down. Tragically, several children and adults have died from cruel willful neglect.

Thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents. Many will endure life-long irreparable emotional trauma. Hundreds have not been repatriated and some may never be. Many have suffered physical and sexual abuse from their caretakers.

Compounding this crisis, wait times for immigrant hearings are interminable — 721 days average as of July 2018.

Meanwhile, Trump and his supporters believe this cruelty is justified. Without conscience, they mock the welcoming message of the Statue of Liberty and violate rights guaranteed in the Constitution. Many supporters claim to be Christians, yet they excuse this inhumanity while remaining blind to their hypocrisy.

Whether immigrants are seeking legal asylum or have entered illegally, all deserve basic humane treatment. We are the USA, not a third-world morally impoverished dictatorship that scorns human rights. Or are we?

The racist assaults by Trump and his supportive Republicans have many similarities with Hitler’s persecution. A prominent Rabbi explained, “the Holocaust began with dehumanizing propaganda, with discriminatory laws, with roundups and deportations, and with internment”. All are occurring now under Trump’s racist regime. Ignoring this and contrary to Trump’s intent, the flow of immigrants has increased, which is testimony to the horrible conditions they are fleeing.

Despite a nationwide outcry and exorbitant funding, these appalling conditions continue. As taxpayers, we pay $775 per day per child to private companies to keep children in tent cities and $256 per day per person to house adults in government facilities. This funding is supposed to provide proper humanitarian care. Instead, inhumane conditions persist while immigrant detention companies like GEO Group and CoreCivic make obscene profits from the suffering of thousands. Of the millions these companies donate in campaign contributions, Republicans receive 95%.

Contrary to Vice President Pence’s absurd claim, this intentional cruelty is NOT due to a funding shortage caused by Democrats. Its moral and ethical bankruptcy within Trump, his administration and his sycophant Republican supporters - many who believe with Trump that immigrants are inferior and subhuman. In their warped minds, they believe the more suffering and hate they can impose on immigrants, the better their chances of reelection. Their racist hatred is a disease, a social psychosis they share with Trump and his supporters.

The myths about immigrants proclaimed by Trump are blatantly false. They’re fabricated distractions to blame immigrants for our nation’s ills while obscuring the harm Trump and the GOP bring to our democracy and our lives. Immigrants are not the cause of our nation’s major problems.

> Immigrants contribute more in tax revenues than they receive in government benefits. Per the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, undocumented immigrants pay an estimated $11.6 billion annually in taxes, yet they are not eligible for federal benefits except in dire circumstances like medical emergencies. In 2017, all immigrants paid $405.4 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Their spending power was $1.1 trillion.

> Regarding jobs, despite being a large part of the labor force (17%), most economists agree that because immigrants work jobs and hours others don’t want, with rare exceptions, immigrants have not cost American jobs and American wages. The economists affirm immigrants often work jobs that boost other segments of the economy.

> Regarding crime, studies show both legal and illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than the US native-born population by wide margins. Trump’s claim of swarms of “rapists and murderers” is pure bunk.

In short, facts prove immigrants and diversity make us stronger.

As Democrats fervently attempt to improve immigrant conditions, Republicans continually obstruct their efforts and refuse to take action to end this inhumane crisis. They would rather sacrifice decades of hard-won civil and human rights progress, and violate the Constitution, than find the courage to oppose Trump.

This cruel treatment of immigrants is a crime against humanity. As concerned citizens, it is our moral imperative to create a massive public outcry until this tragedy is ended.

We must act. Cynicism and disinterest are selfish luxuries that we as a nation cannot afford. Call or email your representatives. Post comments on their Facebook pages. Contribute to congresspeople and organizations working to end this crisis, like ACLU. March. Protest. Sign petitions.

Let’s rally and stop this crime against humanity — this dark stain on America.

Andrew Kramer

Andrew Kramer, Ivins, is a Vietnam veteran and a retired architect who managed multi-million dollar projects with firms in Boston and Denver.