EDITORIAL: For Trump, migrants are pawns, not people

York Dispatch editorial board

Credit President Trump on this count: More than two years into the unlikeliest, unseemliest and most unproductive of presidencies, he retains the ability to shock and disappoint right-thinking Americans.

Even after referring to white nationalists as “very fine people;” even after yanking away and caging infants and young children from migrant parents legally seeking asylum; even after standing alongside Russian leader Vladimir Putin and disparaging his own intelligence leaders; even after all the lies, all the insults, all the threats and all the false accusations, the president still finds ways to lower the bar.

The latest case in point: Trump’s plan to transport migrants who cross the border illegally to so-called sanctuary cities, which, more often than not, just happen to be Democratic strongholds

More:Trump considered sending migrants to Democratic strongholds

More:Trump sanctuary city idea could help migrants stay in U.S.

The plan is pure Trump: petty, petulant and intended to put the screws to his perceived political enemies. That it also demotes living, breathing humans to the status of convenient props seems not to bother the president one whit. After all, his record of treatment toward people of color — from his campaign-launch assessment of Mexicans to his post-Hurricane Maria disinterest in the victims of Puerto Rico to his government’s treatment of asylum seekers — is short on empathy, long on negligence.

The idea was so loathsome, even by Trumpian standards, that, when The Washington Post broke the story, administration and Department of Homeland Security officials hastened to disavow it. “This was just a suggestion that was floated and rejected, which ended any further discussion,” the White House said in a statement. 

In this April 5, 2019 photo, President Donald Trump participates in a roundtable on immigration and border security at the U.S. Border Patrol Calexico Station in Calexico, Calif. Trump said Friday he is considering sending "Illegal Immigrants" to Democratic strongholds to punish them for inaction— just hours after White House and Homeland Security officials insisted the idea was dead on arrival. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nobody told the president. He took to Twitter to state that, despite his own White House’s assertions, he is indeed itching to transport migrants to sanctuary cities.

Not for the first time the administration was forced to do a 180 to accommodate the Tweeter-in-Chief.

“We’re looking to see if there are options that make it possible and doing a full and thorough and extensive review,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tap-danced while making the Sunday talk-show rounds. “The president likes the idea and Democrats have said they want these individuals into their communities, so let’s see if it works and everybody gets a win out of it.”

Oh, it’s a “win-win,” is it? Again, nobody told the president.

“They want more people in their sanctuary cities?” he told reporters. “Well, we will give them more people. We can give them a lot. We can give them an unlimited supply. And let’s see if they’re so happy.”

In truth, the president’s views on immigrants have changed little since he disparaged Mexicans as drug dealers, criminals and rapists on the opening day of his campaign.

President Donald Trump walks after stepping off Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, April 6, 2019, in Washington. Trump is returning from a trip to California and Nevada. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Suppose like I said, ‘Let’s have an open border,’” the president said while visiting southern Texas last week. “They’ll flood your houses. They’ll shoot you. They’ll take over your house. They’ll take your car and they’ll probably stay there.”

They, they, they. Trump is so intent on keeping “them” out, he reportedly promised to pardon acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan if he broke the law by denying entry to asylum seekers — a suggestion House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called “unforgivable.” Try “illegal,” congressman.

Trump isn’t looking for solutions to the immigration issue. He has had no serious policy discussions, and his agenda consists of little more than the promise of a wall and the premise of a threat from “them.”

So he resorts to malicious, unworkable and likely illegal proposals such as transporting migrants thousands of miles to Democratic districts in an effort not to solve the problem but to politicize it. 

In doing so, the president continues to shock, he continues to disappoint; and he continues to prove how utterly unfit he is for the office he holds.