Lindsay M. Harris and Dree K. Collopy, two immigration lawyers specializing in asylum cases, have a Washington Post column debunking Trump’s many lies about the refugee caravan moving north through Mexico toward our southern border to apply for asylum. They start by pointing out that they are fleeing “horrific violence” and only “trying to survive and protect their children.” Then they take on some specific lies.
The administration alleges that most individuals who file asylum claims don’t return to court to adjudicate them. In his Nov. 1 speech, Trump himself claimed that only 3 percent of asylum seekers show up in court. In reality, the Justice Department’s own statistics recognize that 60 percent to 75 percent of non-detained individuals show up to court, while a recent study showed that 96 percent of families with legal representation seeking asylum showed up to court.
The administration seems to assume that those seeking asylum between ports of entry are less worthy, genuine or credible than those who seek entry at the border. In reality, there are totally valid reasons people enter between ports of entry — first and foremost, the U.S. government has a track record of unlawfully turning away asylum seekers from ports of entry.
But it is not “us vs. them.” We are all human. We all breathe the same air. We all want to be free. And above all else, we want our children to be safe. We implore the Trump administration and our fellow Americans to recognize our common humanity and start treating asylum seekers like fellow human beings, rather than demons to blame, criminals to punish and monsters to detain and fear. It is our common humanity that should guide our policy. Only then can the United States begin to return to its position of moral leadership.
You cannot honor our common humanity while dehumanizing people, which is exactly what Trump and his supporters are doing to these refugees. To them, they are rapists and murderers who are “invading” the United States. But as usual, their version of reality has nothing to do with the real world. It’s only true in Trumpworld, which is purely imaginary.