Wednesday, July 17, 2019
With the whole world to monitor, the UN is not alway quick to respond to developments in the U.S. But the UN High Commission on Refugees took no time at all to condemn the new asylum rules that went into effect in the U.S. on Tuesday, just one day after they were published in the Federal Register.
According to the new rules, any asylum seekers who pass through another country before arriving at the southern border – including children traveling on their own – will not be eligible for asylum if they failed to apply first in their country of transit. They would only be eligible for US asylum if their application was turned down elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal, of all places, reports that the rules have stranded thousands of refugees at the border, some of who have already been waiting many months simply to be interviewed for asylum.
Said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, "we are deeply concerned about this measure. It will put vulnerable families at risk. It will undermine efforts by countries across the region to devise the coherent, collective responses that are needed. This measure is severe and is not the best way forward.”
The ACLU also lost no time in suing to block implementation of the new rules.
But ACLU aside, how many of us here in the US are watching? Over the weekend, the media turned to Trump's latest twittergate -- the question of whether his attacks on four members of Congress were racist. Were Trump's horrific tweets just another one of his well-known efforts to distract and divide?
Linguist George Lakoff has developed a widely-circulated graphic to illustrate this phenomenon. Thankfully, as the twitter story has developed, more and more commentators are moving beyond the tweets themselves and are directly connecting the tweets to the government's racist policies at the border, noting the through-thread of statements and policies that denigrate and harm black and brown people. It's a skill that we all need to develop, lest we fall for these distracting tactics again and again.