Lest we forget…

Seeking asylum is not a crime.

Buffalo Springfield – For What It’s Worth 1967

“The United States recognizes the right of asylum
for individuals as specified by international and federal law.
A specified number of legally defined refugees who either
apply for asylum from inside the U.S. or apply for refugee
status from outside the U.S., are admitted annually.


That “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” is enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and supported by the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.”


“Once again, this administration is seeking to block people from entering
this country based on unsubstantiated claims that they threaten our safety. Much like the 2017 Muslim ban, which failed in federal court, the administration’s policies will impact people who have no criminal history at all and who are, in fact, victims of crime with a legal right to seek protection.”

To be clear: seeking asylum at the border is not illegal, but turning asylum seekers away is illegal.


“Trump and Sessions are wrong to mandate blanket prosecutions that Related imageeffectively criminalize the right to seek asylum. This policy is inconsistent with America’s longstanding tradition of protecting and welcoming the world’s most vulnerable people. The United States is more than capable of finding an appropriate response that is not only compassionate and morally right, but that also upholds the law.


Donald Trump wants to be a dictator.

It’s not enough just to laugh at him

Here’s the latest example of how the comedy can distract. On Thursday Donald Trump marked the Fourth of July by praising the US military, invoking the heroism of an army that defeated the British in the 18th century in part because “it took over the airports”.

Lol: behold, the ignoramus president. Cue more chuckles
as Trump delivered that speech during a downpour,
the Almighty himself apparently deciding to rain on Trump’s parade. 

Another image framed this split-screen 4 July: that of the children, separated from their parents, who are caged in detention camps on America’s southern border. Accounts by lawyers and doctors who were allowed brief visits to these hellish places are almost unbearable to read: children deprived of sleep, denied access to blankets or mattresses, not allowed to wash their hands or brush their teeth; toddlers left alone on cold, hard floors, so traumatised they sit in stunned, tearless silence. I’m especially haunted by the report of “a suicidal four-year-old whose face was covered in bloody, self-inflicted scratches”.

This too is what dictators do: demonising a group – in this case, migrants – as an alien threat, an army of invaders, so intensely and for so long that eventually any fate, no matter how brutal or inhumane, seems deserved, even when it is inflicted on that group’s youngest and most vulnerable members. Breaking up families, caging children in hot, fetid, disease-ridden camps – this is what dictators do.”  

…Like it or not, the US is the mightiest player in the democratic world. When that country is led by a would-be dictator, it undermines global democratic standards. How can the west stand up to, say, Viktor Orbán, when it indulges Donald Trump? Citizens and governments around the world need to realise that acting as if nothing has changed will not do; that Trump should not be treated as if his presidency were normal when it is nothing of the sort. But first, we need to see clearly what’s happening – and, perhaps, stop laughing.

 Jonathan Freedland is a Guardian columnist


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