Trump has been declaring a border crisis since before he announced his presidential candidacy, and he’s now insisting that our national security depends on the construction of a border wall to stem the “invasion” of dangerous immigrants and the flow of dangerous drugs.
Is Trump correct? Has there been a dramatic influx of unlawful entries through our southwest border recently? Do most of the undocumented immigrants entering the country through southwest border have criminal records? Are drugs flooding into our country through the southwest border? And finally, if the answer to all of these questions are yes, will a border wall solve these problems?
A unifying chorus on the left and middle asks how in the world anyone could still support Donald Trump and any politician who endorses his behavior and policy stances. A similar collective chorus involves the "why" questions, including why in the world Trump does what he does and says what he says, and why in the WORLD he feels the need to play it all out on Twitter.
I believe I have the answer to these questions, or at least some of them.
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
Ever wonder why we’re getting so many waves of desperate Central American migrants coming north to the United States?
The waves began in 1979 following the U.S. intervention in the Nicaraguan Contra War, in an attempt to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The Reagan Administration provided substantial financial and material support for the Contras operating in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, despite reports of vast corruption and mass human rights violations.
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
I began collecting Republican quotes some time ago because it seemed like every time I heard about some outlandishly sexist or racist comment made by a politician or other community leader, it always turned out to be a Republican, and just as often, a self-identified Christian (of the Evangelical kind). So whenever I heard or read about such a comment, I added it to a Word document I kept on my laptop.
Soon, the list was getting long, with 10, 15, then 20 outrageous comments, that if one didn't know better, might assume were a part of either a propaganda plot, or a misguided piece in the Onion. But no, after thorough vetting the comments, (which most often involved going to the direct source and reading the comment for myself) the majority (99.98%) were accurately reported. I've posted the list on Facebook and Twitter, and I go back periodically to update the list as new comments emerge.
This list does not necessarily reflect the attitudes and perspectives of all Republicans, but I do believe they reflect the increasing shift of the Republican party toward the political Right. Perhaps the GOP has always had sexist and racist strains, particularly due to the party's commitment traditionalism, or perhaps the Republican party has been hijacked by right-wing populism. Regardless, I present to you members of the GOP:
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSc, MSW
I don't ever recall feeling such tension in the air as I do right now. I don't ever remember feeling so triggered or seeing so many friends triggered. I don't ever remember going onto Facebook and reading post after post by women disclosing the various ways they've been sexually exploited, harassed, abused and assaulted.
I don't ever remember so much anger. I know many of you, both men and women (probably more men), want this to go away, quickly. It's terrible to live in a state of constant tension like this. Each side is blaming the other for the polarization, and demonizing those who are advocating for their side. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to name-call, or frame all Republicans as evil, or all Democrats as angels, because they aren't either of those things.
This isn't as much of a political issue for me as it is a cultural one, with political overtones. So I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on each issue, with the hope that I can contribute to increased clarity, while at the same time validating people's pain. I'm answering both as a woman who has been deeply affected by the Kavanaugh fiasco, as a social worker who has worked with both survivors and perpetrators, as well as an educator/scholar. So here goes:
Forgive me in advance for going all ‘personal’ on you, but it’s been a bad couple of days for democracy and human rights, and therefore it’s been a bad couple of days for me. Usually when I feel discouraged I pick up one of my many non-fiction books on social reformers and immerse myself in their lives and experiences. Reading about past social reform movements gives me hope and perspective.
Many people have commented on my "grace" in responding to people who disagree with me and aren't very nice about it. Well, I wasn't always so gracious—there was a time when I could be pretty snarky. I corrected people's grammar (how funny is that? #karma),
I bombarded people with facts, I interspersed my comments with "oh please!" or "typical!" and although I didn't engage too much in name-calling, I did use a fair amount of sarcasm (still do at times), and a minor epithet every now and then.
I'm certain I didn't change a single person's mind with that type of engagement. But what I did do is exhaust myself, make people feel bad about themselves, and drive an even deeper wedge into our already polarized society.
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSs, MSW
I’ve been blogging about the humanitarian crisis involving Central American migrant families separated at the U.S. border for months now, and I along with so many others in the United States and around the world, have been trying to find an explanation, some type of rationale for the Trump administration’s handling of the political asylum seekers coming across the southwest border. After reviewing all the pleadings in the federal case filed against the government by the ACLU, as well as many of Trump’s speeches related to immigration, I think I may now have a better understanding. I think I have insight into his and his closest advisors’ perspectives on political asylum; their ultimate, buried-under-the-rhetoric ideology, so to speak.
Trump let his real agenda slip out in a recent speech. The scene was the Cabinet Room, a historic meeting room at the White House. The setting, a luncheon with Republican members of Congress. Trump began his speech by referencing the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold his “Muslim ban,” calling it a victory for the Constitution.
Although there is great variation in the opinions of immigration policy experts on the most effective way of managing cross border migration, throughout this speech, Trump presents the immigration debate in simplistically polarized terms: Republican want closed border and low crime, and Democrats want to open the floodgates to gang members and murderers, stating,
In recent press briefings, both Sessions and Nielsen referenced the risk of adults trafficking and smuggling children into the United States as an additional justification for separating the families at the border. Nielsen confirmed that if parents could not provide proof of parentage, it was assumed the child was likely trafficked, and their child will be taken into custody.
To back up her claims of the increase incidence of child trafficking, Nielsen cited a 314% increase in trafficked children between October 2017 and February 2018, intimating that concerns of child trafficking were the primary motivation for taking custody of the children. In fact, in her June 18, 2018 press briefing, Nielsen accused critics of not caring about trafficked children, stating that “minors have been used and trafficked by unrelated adults in an effort to avoid detention.”
Are Political Asylum Seekers Required to Request Protection through a U.S. Port of Entry? And a Whole lot more...
By Michelle Martin, PhD, MSW
What I want to address in this blog post is whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ assertion that the only legal way to request asylum in the United States is through a U.S. port of entry (or U.S. consulate) is accurate. I also want to explore how the government can distinguish between undocumented economic immigrants who cross the Mexico border without documentation to work, and those who cross the border seeking political asylum because they are fleeing persecution.
Dr. Michelle Martin is a social worker, policy specialist and Assistant Professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Social Work, where she teaches social welfare policy, and researches dynamics related to immigrants, political asylum-seekers, refugees and other displaced populations.