AN email update from The Washington Post has the headline: “A reminder of Trump’s needless cruelty to migrants.”
This arrives on the same morning that our own purveyors of needless cruelty set out their post-Brexit immigration plans in a much-delayed white paper.
And it pings into Outlook a couple of days after headlines about Hungary, where Viktor Orban’s right-wing government is facing rising protests about the state of politics. The trigger for this latest bout of street marches was a so-called slave law that allows employers to force workers to do extra overtime, without necessarily being paid for up to three years.
Why does Hungary need this enforced overtime? A casual glance at the country’s tough anti-immigration rules suggests a likely answer: immigrants who would have been able to do the extra work are being kept out of the country.
Being ‘tough’ on immigration plays well in world politics right now, even if the realities rarely match the rhetoric. That email from the Washington Post puts Trump’s anti-migrant politics into a harsh spotlight by telling two tragic stories about children, one dead, the other dying.
The Post first reported news last week of the death of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl called Jakelin Caal. She died of dehydration and shock in the custody of US border enforcement officials and her death dominated US headlines for a few days.
Many people in America were horrified, but no one will be surprised to learn that the Trump administration said the fault lay with her father: why accept blame when you can wag your finger at a grieving man who tried to reach the US out of desperation?
The other tragic story concerns two-year-old Abdullah Hassan, a Yemini American boy on life support in a California hospital. He suffers from a rare genetic brain condition and is dying. His mother, Shaima Swileh, is a Yemeni citizen living in Egypt. She has been caught up in Trump’s block on nationals from several Muslim-majority countries. She and her American-based husband spent months trying to get a waiver so that she can enter the US to see her dying son. After a public outcry, her wish was finally granted yesterday.
We have no reason to feel complacent in this country; unless, that is, we believe all that barbed guff about “taking control of our borders”. Theresa May is a woman much obsessed with controlling immigration – to the extent that her hostile environment policy gave us, among other grisly delights, the Windrush scandal.
This, in case it has slipped your mind, saw immigrants from the Caribbean, who had lived most of their lives in Britain after being invited to live here, suddenly faced with deportation.
Last week, Amelia Gentleman of the Guardian won Journalist of the year in the British Journalism Awards for her work exposing the Windrush scandal. Her reporting led to the resignation of then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd. It’s fair to say that Rudd carried the can for her boss Theresa May, who as Home Secretary introduced the contentious policy that got her sacked.
Theresa May is behind a £30,000-a-year salary threshold for all migrants and has reportedly resisted pressure to reduce that level so that necessary migrants can enter the country. This is because she believes that the Brexit referendum – you know, the one won by a squeak – translates into a demand that migration be controlled.
This chimes with the often-spouted call to end free movement of people. And if you are foolish enough to believe that people moving freely between cooperating countries, going in and out as suits their lives and their situation, sounds like an admirable notion, and one that makes countries stronger economically and culturally, then you clearly haven’t been keeping up do date with all the present madness.