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When Fear of Migrants Translates to Putting Children in Cages

The United States has long provided a haven for those seeking safety and asylum. The Statue of Liberty reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me…”

(Why opening our hearts to migrants is so crucial for our future. If YouTube is showing a server error, you can follow the link here.)

We have, for two centuries, served as a much-needed charitable example to other nations. Through great famines and wars we have kept our doors and borders open. But ever since Trump’s election, he has done everything in his power to stomp out our nation’s beacon of liberty, to wall America off from those seeking aid in a troubled world.

In the present day, the hopeful light of liberty is needed far more than ever. Across our globe, the storms and droughts of climate change are worsening. Such natural disasters now result in more people losing access to shelter and livelihoods than conflict and war. With glaciers melting as temperatures increase, an additional 140 million to 2 billion people could be displaced by rising seas through 2100.

2 billion people is fully one in every five human beings expected to be living by 2100. What this means is that the threat of displacement from climate change related factors is not at all remote. It is not something down the road, or across the street, or even sitting on our porch. It is in our house. It is very likely to affect both you and me.

(Climate change worsened storms, droughts and other disasters now result in more people being displaced each year than conflict and violence. However, rising ocean levels are now also likely to displace hundreds of millions of people through the 21st Century. Image source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Center.)

In facing this problem we can react in a number of ways running the gamut from harmful to helpful. Some, like those republicans supporting a Trump Administration now holding children in cages at the border, will try to exploit growing fears of poverty or deeper-seated racism by scape-goating immigrants in an effort to enforce harmful political agendas (border wall, travel ban etc). Others will react with denial, turning their faces from a difficult reality and hiding behind an illusion of safety. But the benevolent will seek to respond with charity, to stand by our values, to provide aid and safe passage for migrants.

It is this final choice that will be essential if global civilization is to maintain a peaceful, benevolent stability through the climate-spurred difficulties of the coming decades. For we will all have to face them. Doing it with compassion is a far better, just, and far more resilient way.

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37 Comments

  1. wili

     /  June 18, 2018

    Thanks, robert, for covering this latest in a worsening series of utterly shameful behaviour by this administration. My wife and I joined a local rally protesting this savagery in front of the state Republican headquarters…probably won’t do much, but it felt good to be with others in our collective outrage.

    Meanwhile, in other news:

    New study: “Rising seas could wipe out $1 trillion worth of U.S. homes and businesses”

    “Some 2.4 million American homes and businesses worth more than $1 trillion are at risk of “chronic inundation” by the end of the century, according to a report out Monday. That’s about 15 percent of all U.S. coastal real estate, or roughly as much built infrastructure as Houston and Los Angeles combined.

    The sweeping new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists is the most comprehensive analysis of the risks posed by sea level rise to the United States coastal economy. Taken in context with the lack of action to match the scale of the problem, it describes a country plowing headlong into a flood-driven financial crisis of enormous scale.

    “In contrast with previous housing market crashes, values of properties chronically inundated due to sea level rise are unlikely to recover and will only continue to go further underwater, literally and figuratively,” said Rachel Cleetus, an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and a report co-author, in a statement. “Many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality.”

    The report defines chronic inundation as 26 flood events per year, or roughly one every other week — enough to “make normal routines impossible” and render the properties essentially worthless. It builds on the group’s previous work to identify the risk of chronic flooding under a sea-level-rise scenario of two meters (6.6 feet) by 2100…”

    https://grist.org/article/rising-seas-could-wipe-out-1-trillion-worth-of-u-s-homes-and-businesses/

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    • wili

       /  June 18, 2018

      More here: “The dirty word in South Florida’s watery future: retreat”

      “Even in the most modest scenarios, dealing with rising seas in the coming decades will be messy, complicated, and hugely expensive. Taxes will increase. Insurance rates will skyrocket. Lawsuits will proliferate. Salt water will corrode your car. Trees will die. New water-borne diseases will emerge. Biscayne Bay will go murky from the increased run-off and pollution. Racial and class tensions will arise over who gets protected from the flooding and who doesn’t.

      So if you live in South Florida, you might ask yourself: Why stick around? And if you own a house or condo, you might think: Why not sell now, while there are plenty of buyers in the market and prices are high?

      If you’re a city official in South Florida, this is your nightmare. Once people start to see Florida real estate not as an investment, but as a stranded asset, the real trouble begins. In Florida especially, where there is no sales tax, property taxes are vital to paying for basic services like police and fire departments and schools.

      But local governments also need these revenues to pay for infrastructure improvements to defend against rising seas. If Floridians start moving to Asheville and foreign investors start shifting their investments to Costa Rica, property values will fall, which means there will be less money for cops and teachers, but also less money for raising roads and building sea walls.

      As the water rises, quality of life declines, people leave. Those who are left behind tend to be poorer, sicker, more in need of services. It’s the kind of downward economic spiral that is very hard to pull out of.”

      https://www.theinvadingsea.com/2018/06/17/the-dirty-word-in-south-floridas-watery-future-retreat/

      Liked by 4 people

      Reply
      • “So if you live in South Florida, you might ask yourself: Why stick around? And if you own a house or condo, you might think: Why not sell now, while there are plenty of buyers in the market and prices are high?”

        I’m often in a foul temper these days. But I’d love to see waterfront properties in Florida pitched to sun-seeking conservative* retirees as “Republican-only gated communities.” It would lighten my mood, just a little.

        *with an asterisk, because they really aren’t conservative at all. Blindly selfish reactionaries, more like.

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  2. Considering the trajectories of climate change and our mitigation efforts, this shameful situation regarding migration is likely to get worse with time. Civilization’s attempts to maintain peaceful, benevolent stability will be put to the ultimate test.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    • jharan

       /  June 18, 2018

      Hmm… so does that mean the current situation represents “peaceful, benevolent stability?” Oh dear.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    • Andy_in_SD

       /  June 18, 2018

      100% agreed.

      The knee jerk reaction of xenophobia is inevitable and not limited to any one locale or group. As we deplete water, and other basics such as food, security, those that still hold onto it will not share what they have, they will hoard it for their own group (family, city, country, state, ethnic group, etc…). This is not human nature, it is basic animal nature.

      I see bad times ahead, and I suspect it is sooner than most realize.

      Liked by 6 people

      Reply
      • I concur. Unfortunately, even people on the left are having difficulty understanding this natural reaction. Many prefer to see it as an outburst of racism triggered by Trump. There’s no doubt he is channeling this energy for his own political purposes (as are others), but he is just exploiting an already present social phenomenon.

        The first steps in solving any problem are admitting that it exists and analyzing its causes and consequences. It is apparent that we humans are struggling to do so. The longer we postpone this consensus understanding, the shorter the time we’ll have for corrective action. The clock is ticking…

        Liked by 2 people

        Reply
  3. Russia Times, really?

    Like

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  4. Thank you for covering this Robert – at this distance it looks more like a sick political theater to appease a certain spectrum of right-wing voters – goodness knows what it costs, but truth is the first casualty in politics too.

    I sincerely hope enough people wake up in America before it is too late. Even here in NZ many people are concerned, but few discuss the topic as the Trumpists are an embarrassment to Humanity – like one’s wayward uncle who tells racist jokes, likes a line of coke or dabbles in crime.

    Liked by 4 people

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    • I’d say there’s a solid core of 25 to 30 percent in this country who will go along with Trump no matter what. There’s your ‘racist uncle’ constituency. And they are really, really bad for this country.

      That said, the actions against immigrants are drawing a lot of outrage at the present time. For me the basic problem is that we have a President who promotes fear of immigrants and racism as a matter of developing political support. I don’t think we’ve had such a politician in this country during the modern age. It’s pretty horrible living here and being an American right now. I’ve taken some reassurance in the fact that we’ve been able to beat back his worst policies. But the man is terribly corrosive and the longer he remains in office, the higher the likelihood that we’ll see some horrible impacts.

      The present situation at the border could best be termed ‘human rights abuses.’ But it could quickly turn even worse. The UN needs to take action before that happens.

      Liked by 5 people

      Reply
      • Jim

         /  June 21, 2018

        By now, I’m sure you’ve seen that the US has withdrawn from the UN human rights council, in part over their criticism of the child separation policy. In the UN statement, they cited an observation by the president of the American Association of Pediatrics that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

        Nikey Haley called the UN council a “cesspool of political bias” in her withdrawal announcement. Somehow I don’t think the US participation in the council will be missed.

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      • chuck simmons

         /  June 27, 2018

        You’re an optimist. There’s a solid block of 40%, even 42% of people in this country who will support Trump no matter what. They’ve been completely brainwashed. They support torture. They support racism. They’re happy to see the environment trashed. They don’t want health care nor fair wages. They don’t consider the first amendment freedoms of the press and religion to be important. They cherry pick data and use faith-based reasoning. They don’t want to see women succeed. The un-American-ness of these people just goes on an on un-believably. We have a complete clown for a president and 40% of the public look for ways to white-wash and normalize his buffoonery.

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        • I’d say the 40-45 percent are those who don’t have access to factual information sources. To be clear, a number of these folks also voted for Obama. And the republican base that consistently gives Trump high numbers is just 27 percent of the American populace at present. Most traditional republicans have defected to independents at the present time. So yeah, it’s more that 25 to 30 percent are hard core. While the remainder probably falsely believe they have some economic benefit coming from Trump.

          Like

  5. bill h

     /  June 18, 2018

    Nigel, The grim irony here is that the right wing spectrum you mention seem also to be hostile to reduction in fossil fuel consumption, instead claiming “we can adapt”. However, the obvious “adaptation” that human beings can make is to migrate from areas under great climate stress, exactly what this spectrum hates – even more than fossil fuel use reduction

    Liked by 7 people

    Reply
  6. Abel Adamski

     /  June 19, 2018

    The US track record, I bring it up because these were amongst the early environmentalists and also the precursors to black lives matter.
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/18/debbie-sims-africa-free-prison-move-nine-philadelphia-police?
    Talk about overkill and a police officer was shot and killed in a massive swat operation, those imprisoned did not have a functioning weapon in the premises and no effort was ever made to locate the fatal weapon, suspected by many to have been an accidental police shot as the trajectory was into not out of the premises, now first paroled after 40 years

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  7. Robert in New Orleans

     /  June 19, 2018

    I am American who was born and raised here in the United States by parents who them selves were born and raised here too. I am also an American of mixed ethnic ancestry, my mother was a blonde blue eyed woman of northern/central European extraction. My father is a black haired, brown eyed Hispanic man descended from the Mestizo(mixed blood) peoples of New Mexico. As an American who is half Hispanic, I find the glorified piece of sh*t temporary residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to be anathema to my existence.

    From the first day of his candidacy, this GPOS has constantly attacked Hispanics and people of Hispanic ancestry. He has stoked the fires of the most vile and evil forms of racism, bigotry, xenophobia and nativism that I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. In my opinion the current flair up in the immigration debate has less to do with border control and security than with the GPOS pandering to his ignorant and backword constituency. Does anyone truly believe that if the people coming across our southern were white with blue eyes and blonde hair that they would be treated in such a degrading and inhumane manner? I am so angry I can barely think let alone type.

    All I can say is that unless you are Native American, you are an illegal alien or the the descendant of one. This of course makes me a combination of the oppressor and the oppressed in a certain way.

    Liked by 6 people

    Reply
  8. Abel Adamski

     /  June 19, 2018

    An update on Tesla
    https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2018/06/elon-musk-allegedly-tells-tesla-staff-to-remain-extremely-vigilant-amid-sabotage-factory-fire/

    So it’s fair to say that Tesla is in the middle of a stressful situation. It seems to have got a lot more tense this week, with Musk allegedly claiming the company has uncovered saboteurs in its ranks.

    CNBC reported that in an email to all employees yesterday (Sunday night local time), Musk wrote that a Tesla employee had been implicated in “quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations”, including modifications to the “Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames” and the export of “highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties”.

    Musk wrote that the Tesla management team is attempting to discern whether this staff member, who was allegedly angry over a lost promotion, was acting alone or “if he was working with any outside organisations”.

    Musk added that “there are a long list of organisations that want Tesla to die”, and named a rogue’s gallery of potential enemies including “Wall Street short-sellers”, “oil & gas companies”, and “the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors”.

    He further stressed that while “most of the time” these situations are motivated by a single individual’s desire for revenge, staff should be “extremely vigilant” while the company ramps up Model 3 production:

    From: Elon Musk

    To: Everybody

    Subject: Some concerning news

    June 17, 2018

    11:57 p.m.

    I was dismayed to learn this weekend about a Tesla employee who had conducted quite extensive and damaging sabotage to our operations. This included making direct code changes to the Tesla Manufacturing Operating System under false usernames and exporting large amounts of highly sensitive Tesla data to unknown third parties.

    The full extent of his actions are not yet clear, but what he has admitted to so far is pretty bad. His stated motivation is that he wanted a promotion that he did not receive. In light of these actions, not promoting him was definitely the right move.

    However, there may be considerably more to this situation than meets the eye, so the investigation will continue in depth this week. We need to figure out if he was acting alone or with others at Tesla and if he was working with any outside organisations.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  June 19, 2018

      Elon’s email contd.
      As you know, there are a long list of organisations that want Tesla to die. These include Wall Street short-sellers, who have already lost billions of dollars and stand to lose a lot more. Then there are the oil & gas companies, the wealthiest industry in the world — they don’t love the idea of Tesla advancing the progress of solar power & electric cars. Don’t want to blow your mind, but rumour has it that those companies are sometimes not super nice. Then there are the multitude of big gas/diesel car company competitors. If they’re willing to cheat so much about emissions, maybe they’re willing to cheat in other ways?

      Most of the time, when there is theft of goods, leaking of confidential information, dereliction of duty or outright sabotage, the reason really is something simple like wanting to get back at someone within the company or at the company as a whole. Occasionally, it is much more serious.

      Please be extremely vigilant, particularly over the next few weeks as we ramp up the production rate to 5k/week. This is when outside forces have the strongest motivation to stop us.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  9. Tom Jerome

     /  June 19, 2018

    I’m not sure if this still applies, but I love the sentiment:

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  10. wili

     /  June 19, 2018

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trees-dying-climate-change-baobabs_us_5b2395c4e4b07cb1712d8ea1

    “From Africa’s Baobabs To America’s Pines: Our Ancient Trees Are Dying.
    Welcome to climate change.”

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • kassy

       /  June 19, 2018

      One thing that jumped out to me:

      large old trees comprise less than 2 percent of the trees in any forest but they can contain 25 percent of the total biomass

      But paradoxically, he said, they are the most vulnerable to climate change. “One would imagine such behemoths had survived many climatic vicissitudes over their vast lifetimes. But in a climatically changing world, their great stature is a curse. They struggle to get water up to their foliage without suffering dangerous embolisms in their vascular systems. Droughts can be fatal.”

      “Big old trees are organisms which have adapted to live in stable conditions. But climate change is inherently unstable.

      So these trees can live up to thousands of years but within stable conditions. We are clearly stepping out of these bounds and thus we are incurring big losses because you cannot replace them at will.

      It is not just trees. Many different sea birds have set up breeding areas just to find no fish to feed their young. The fish migrated away (usually north). When do you decide to breed somewhere else and where do you go as birds?

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  11. Eugene

     /  June 19, 2018

    I always knew there was a nasty side to America. I just didn’t know there were so many. Trump is simply the face of it all. Behind him stand tens of millions of very, very nasty people. This thing with the children just leaves a sickening feeling in my gut. Like many PTSD vets, I lost respect for America many yrs ago but this is a low even for my attitude. Personally, the attitude I am seeing frightens me. Talked with another old vet last night and he feels the same. This is a dangerous corner we’ve turned.

    Liked by 4 people

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  12. Thank you, Robert Scribbler, for all your posts which enlighten me. Thanks for your comments on this new pogrom which, with the rising tide of inverted totalitarianism/fascism, is inevitable. I just hope that many people react with a sense of outrage rather than indifference. I fear that with indifference, worse pogroms may come, targeting detested US born minorities. In this culture of the lie & the people of the lie, I am heartened that people here feel as I do. I miss honorable people who try to do the right thing, who are motivated by love & truth, kindness & respect.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
  13. John S

     /  June 19, 2018

    Not only in America I’m saddened to say

    From Nov 2017
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/11/09/un-savages-australias-human-rights-record-again-over-manus-marriage-and-prison_a_23272611/

    Less than a month after Australia was appointed to the United Nations’ peak human rights body, the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee has once again savaged the country’s record on refugees, prisons, Indigenous people and law enforcement
    ….
    Australia’s policy of mandatory detention for unauthorised boat arrivals, offshore processing and indefinite detention in some cases has been a long-running issue slammed by the U.N. In 2017, as the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island closed down and left hundreds of refugees without food and water in the now decommissioned facility, the story is no different.
    “The Committee is concerned about the conditions in the offshore immigration processing facilities in Papua New Guinea (Manus Island) and Nauru that also hold children…”

    From Saturday (not a peep in MSM, ignored by Minister Peter Dutton)
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/iranian-refugee-dies-apparent-suicide-nauru-camp-180615113432474.html

    “A 26-year-old Iranian refugee has died in a prison camp on the island of Nauru after an apparent suicide. According to human rights organisation Refugee Action Coalition, the man’s body was found on Saturday morning inside his family tent in the RCP3 detention centre. He is the twelfth person to die in Australian offshore detention and the fifth asylum seeker to die on Nauru.”

    [Fariborz Karami was an Iranian Kurd, a persecuted minority in Iran. He was a victim of severe childhood trauma suffering from severe PTSD and depression. He should have been granted asylum. Instead, he was detained for 5 years until his death.]

    The Australian Department of Home Affairs has referred the case to Nauruan authorities as usual, as if Australia is not responsible for exiling people there, then denying them medical treatment and support. There are currently 1600 men, women and children indefinitely detained in offshore prison camps.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
  14. Robert, I admire your idealism and hope. I’m afraid I lost mine over a decade ago. The needs of America the Empire have trumped America as Free Country some time ago. Immigration problems are obviously not restricted to the US. Whatever is left of the US being a free country will be lost as climate refugees numbers escalate dramatically. Climate emergencies that turn violent (food riots?, intra national immigration?) will result in martial law. Indeed if it ever becomes apparent to the forces that be that climate disaster is looming, there is likely to be a worldwide dictatorship imposed somehow in order to fight it. As I see it, right now the “forces that be” are doubling down on all the actions that have brought us to this point. I strongly suspect that if humankind does marshall forces to fight climate change that there will be only resources for that fight with none left over for justice, equality or fairness. So, Robert, we may need your optimism and idealism to help counter my fairly dystopian view of the future.

    Liked by 4 people

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    • Becky

       /  June 21, 2018

      I think the forces that be know that climate disaster is looming. What they are doing at the borders is in preparation for what is coming. They are lying about the reality of climate change in order to prevent panic. Trump may be an idiot, but there are people surrounding him who know that climate change is real.

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      • There is no uniformed plan formulated by the so-called ‘powers that be.’ Present government is in a state of chaos over a fabricated ‘migrant crisis’ from the the Trump Administration. Trump is using xenophobia to gain political power. However, we are likely looking at large scale climate migrations this century. And the appropriate response would be to give asylum and shelter to the displaced and needy or better to work to stabilize countries undergoing trouble.

        Like

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  15. kassy

     /  June 19, 2018

    On a positive note this measure polls badly with about every group except Donny’s core supporters so even the republicans hate it, especially the ones up for election.

    It would be really cool if some majority in the US would actually force a change in this policy even before the election.

    *

    The immigration problems relating to climate change will be a problem. Even the Syrian refugees led to a big EU crisis and population wise it is not a big country and most refugees stayed in the local area anyway.

    Maybe we should press this thing more? Next time that someone mentions that doing X to counter climate change might cost us some money ask if they fancy a couple of million new Indian neighbours.

    If you are opposed to immigration then take away the incentive.

    Liked by 5 people

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    • Well Kassy, it is true that some of the recent sea changes in American politics have been bottom up exercises. The top is too stuck and dysfunctional to accomplish much of any good. Recent bottom-up cases where there was success were gay marriage and medicinal and/or recreational marijuana use (still partial success). My luck with arguments, such as “if you don’t want Indian people here you will have to solve the climate problem” might work on a person to person basis, but in my view has zero chance of success in any larger political setting – too easy to deny the premises involved. (Usually post as longboren).

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  16. Jeremy in Wales

     /  June 19, 2018

    On a lighter note this seems to be an ironic headline:
    UK summer barbecues threatened by shortage of carbon dioxide
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jun/19/world-cup-barbecues-threatened-by-shortage-of-carbon-dioxide

    Like

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  17. Jeremy in Wales

     /  June 19, 2018

    Without going into detail a lot of the migration we see around the world is the result of policies instigated by the rich world, drugs policy, foreign policy or economic policy, take your pick. If conditions in say El Salvador or Libya are improved then migration is likely to reduce.

    Liked by 2 people

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