A lot of people will be talking about the indictment of Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort and his former business partner, Rick Gates, on charges of money laundering and failure to register as foreign agents on behalf of Ukranian and Russian interests. After all, the move by Special Counsel Robert Mueller on that front, along with the guilty plea by George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to Trump during his successful run for president, are the first steps in what might end up being Trump’s impeachment for colluding with the Russian government in its alleged effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.
But your editor is far more concerned about how the current Occupant of the White House’s regime is harming the life of a 10-year-old undocumented emigre child with cerebral palsy who was detained last week in the midst of a medical emergency. That case is the latest example of how the Trump Administration’s goal of harming the lives of poor and minority children — and another reason why reformers from all sides must stand against the administration’s abuse.
The child, named Rosa Maria Hernandez, was detained by the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Patrol on her way to emergency surgery for a ruptured gall bladder. The child, who was brought to the country as a three-month-old in order to get better healthcare than she could in Mexico, suffers from a level of cognitive disability that renders her more like a four-year-old than a child in the fourth grade. Even though the Trump Administration has the discretion to let Rosa stay at home with her family in Laredo, Texas, in order to recover from the surgery — and despite having a cognitive disability that renders her unable to protect herself from the kinds of sexual and physical abuses that happen in immigration jails — it decided instead to detain her in a jail 156 miles away in San Antonio, from which she will likely be sent to a country that she has never known.
As you would expect, Rosa’s case has attracted media attention as well as the presence of the American Civil Liberties Union, which now represents her. It has demanded the Trump Administration to release Rosa from jail within the next 24 hours or find itself facing another of many suits it has filed over the regime’s denial of due process for (and criminal abuse of) undocumented emigres. The administration, having been willing to engage in propaganda campaigns instigated by former Homeland Administration Secretary (and now White House Chief of Staff) John Kelly that smear undocumented emigres as “rapists” and “bad hombres”, and has sparred with congressional leaders such as Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson over the president’s insensitivity to the widows of servicemen killed in action, has shown no willingness to back down.
Given Rosa Maria’s condition, what the Trump Administration has done to her and her family is morally unacceptable. Yet it is the norm for this regime.
President Donald Trump himself has made nativism and White Supremacy the hallmarks of his tenure in the White House — and his demagoguery has been on display long before he ran for the presidency. On the campaign trail, he accused Mexican immigrants, undocumented and legal, of being “rapists” and “bad hombres”; embraced conspiratorial rhetoric from the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion in a speech given a month before his victory; denigrating the family of a dead soldier who was also a Muslim; and accusing Gonzalo Curiel, a federal judge presiding over a case involving one of his business of being biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.
Since taking office, Trump’s efforts against immigrants and refugees has continued unabated.This includes the executive orders banning Muslims from several countries from entering the country; to the repeal of the Obama Administration’s executive order requiring traditional districts and other public school operators to allow transgendered children to use bathrooms of the sex with which they identify; to the round-ups and deportations of undocumented immigrants who contribute greatly to the nation’s economy; to even claiming in July that Mexican emigres wanted to take young women and “slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die.”
The major step came last month when the Trump Administration ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era initiative that protected 760,000 children, youth and young adults (including 20,000 teachers working in America’s classrooms) brought to the country as children from deportation. Since then, the Trump Administration has worked to frustrate efforts by DACA recipients in states affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to register under the program for protection.
By ending DACA, Trump signaled clearly that his low-grade ethnic cleansing would extend to the most-vulnerable, boys and girls who have only known America as their home. Helpless children in the midst of learning now being told by the federal government and by the Trump regime that they are undeserving of being treated humanely like the Children of God and members of the Family of Man that they are. Teachers helping poor and minority children gain the knowledge they need for lifelong success being tossed from this country just because their parents brought them here to have better lives and be builders of this nation. Collegians who will be the nation’s future leaders and builders of society kicked out because they aren’t White or native.
But the Trump Administration hasn’t limited its bigotry to immigrant children. Through the U.S. Department of Education, the regime is working hard not to enforce its civil rights obligation to poor and minority children in American public education. This includes a move to limit evidence that can be used by investigators in determining if districts and charter school operators are overusing such harsh discipline as out-of-school suspensions and solitary confinement.
Last week, Politico reported that the administration planned on delaying or eliminating a rule enacted under the Obama Administration that requires districts to limit the number of Black children condemned to the nation’s special education ghettos (and denied opportunities for the high-quality education they need and deserve). By delaying or eliminating the rule, DeVos and Trump would give districts and other school operators free reign to use special ed as a way to not address the literacy issues of young Black men and others, setting back an important part of the school reform effort George W. Bush began in the last decade.
Meanwhile the administration hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the 8.9 million poor children who were receiving health care through the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program after Congress let the authorizing legislation expire last month. Without CHIP, those children will now lose out on medical treatments that allow them to thrive in school and make it to adulthood.
Now comes the case of Rosa Maria and her plight in a San Antonio immigration prison. Once again, the Trump Administration has proven that it will do ill to even those children who are disabled all because of who they are and who gave birth to them.
Plenty of reformers, from Teach to America to TNTP, have condemned the Trump Administration’s other actions against poor and minority children. There are still others who remain silent. Particularly among conservative reformers (including those with ties to DeVos and her philanthropies), it is much-easier to change the subject than it is to confront the reality of this administration’s evil towards children for whom they proclaim concern.For them, the case of Rosa Maria should serve as the last straw and should push them to condemn the administration.
Certainly reformers can’t spend the bulk of their time on immigration reform. But they can sign on to the ACLU’s letter demanding her release and ultimately, a path towards citizenship for her and her family. They can go further and demand that DeVos weigh in by expressing support for a plan to help DACA emigres gain the citizenship they deserve.
Finally, those who haven’t actively condemned Trump’s bigotry should do so. If they can take time to castigate traditionalists for defending the superclusters in American public education that fail Black and Brown children daily, they can also denounce an administration that wants to further those failures.
Rosa Maria deserves better. So do other poor and minority children. The time to call out the Trump Administration for its evil is now.