Since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, the mainstream media has been fairly vocal in their criticism of the administration’s policies toward immigration. From Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, which changed its tagline to “Democracy Dies in Darkness” last year, to Trump’s frequent targets at MSNBC, the liberals in the media have agreed that this administration’s treatment of immigrants has been unjust and completely without precedent.
In the past year, we’ve seen the government pursue deportations aggressively, we’ve seen children being held in kennels like dogs and we’ve seen families separated at the border. Most everyone to the left of Jeff Sessions has spoken openly about the inhumanity of these actions.
But are these actions really without precedent? Is the Trump administration really behaving in such an “un-American” way? Is the Democratic Party really justified in washing their hands of this when they say “Not My President” and do nothing but hang their heads and continue to make Cheeto jokes?
Of course not. The Democratic Party has been complicit in actions along these lines for a very long time. As Nancy Pelosi travels tothe border to visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services facilities where migrant children are being held captive, she aims to make a statement about the Trump administration.
But where has the Democrats’ outrage been for the past decade? At this point, it should be common knowledge that the Obama administration deported more immigrants than any previous president, with over 2.5 million removals. What many don’t realize is that the administrative machinery allowing for Trump’s immigration agenda to flourish the way that it has been was built and oiled by the Obama administration.
While the Bush administration created the current incarnation of Department of Homeland Security, including ICE, the Obama administration reorganized the way that it functioned. While under Bush’s immigration policy it maintained a relatively reactive function, it was Obama’s DHS that crafted a so-called “enforcement first” approach.
According to a 2016 article in The Nation, under Obama’s “enforcement-first approach, the budget for immigration enforcement grew 300 percent from the resources given at the time of its founding under Bush to $18 billion annually, more than all other federal law-enforcement agencies’ budget combined.”
It was Obama’s DHS that saw unaccompanied minors turned away at the border in droves only to see them sent to their deaths. It was the 2016 Democratic Party nominee, Hillary Clinton, who affirmed on national television that those children should indeed have been sent back.
While it is horrifying to see families torn apart and children put in detention, it must be made exceedingly clear that these facilities and this kind of treatment existed well before the election of Donald Trump. The Democratic Party has a long tradition of tearing families apart and sending kids off to die in countries that they’re responsible for helping destabilize.
As a leading figure in shaping the agenda and the policies of the Democratic Party for over 15 years, Pelosi has had many opportunities to seek relief for immigrants, dismantle ICE, and stop the cruel deportation machine. Instead, Pelosi has done only what has been convenient. We must see through the empty guestures of Pelosi and the Democrats. They are only paying attention because it is no longer politically convenient to remain silent.
The people demand just treatment for all migrants, and we do not need Pelosi’s posturing to get it.