What Looked Like A Housecleaning At Homeland Security Is Turnning Into A Full-Blown Purge
Just a few hours after the “resignation” of the Secretary of Homeland Security, and a few days after Trump withdrew his nominee for ICE Director in order to go in a “tougher direction”, the U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles is now gone too. And the Washington Post, the New York Times, (and others), report other senior Homeland Security officials will likely be gone in short order. (Almost guaranteeing this newsletter will be outdated virtually from the moment we publish it).
Remember, all of these people were appointed by Trump. Remember also, just two months ago when Trump in his State of the Union address stated he wants legal immigration in “the largest numbers ever”? Now, Trump was talking about a different “type” of legal immigrant. At this same time, how does that stand up to his repeated Twitter rantings on Monday that “Our country is FULL!”
(Little bit of distracting trivia: the Secret Service was actually part of the Treasury Department until it was moved to Homeland Security when that cabinet department was created after 9/11.)
Alles was a former Major General in the Marines, but Trump has soured a lot on his “generals”. In fact, unless we’re missing somebody, none of the original set of generals Trump brought into his cabinet remain.
Lots of people are spending a lot of time today searching for reasonable reasons for the ousters, throwing things around like Trump being mad about a security breach at Mar-a-Lago. Or that the people who are getting kicked out were all affiliated with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (another one of Trump’s original “Generals”), who left just after New Year’s Day, or that Nielsen (and others) were not keen on re-implementing family separation at the border, which Trump may want to do. But as we posited yesterday, we think the reason could equally be Trump thinks doing this makes him look like he’s “getting tough”, and can bring in people who will do what he wants, even if laws or standards of decency appear to make that impossible.
In other immigration news:
• A Federal District Court Judge under Trump’s favorite 9th Circuit short-circuited Trump’s plan to have asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims were being processed by the U.S. But why? This seemed to be one of the only proactive measures Trump has pursued that is not purely and often inhumanely punitive. And it sure beats family separation and tent cities or internment camps. In fact, Obama had a similar program (though it was limited to children), where asylum seekers could wait in Costa Rica while their applications were being processed. (Trump BTW, killed that program.)
We preface this by saying we’re not lawyers (so maybe a lawyer could explain it to us), but all U.S. asylum law appears to do is allow anybody to apply for asylum if they reach the U.S., legally or illegally. It doesn’t seem to say anything about where they have to be while their case is being considered. So why not Mexico?
In his decision, (which we’ve linked to here), Judge Richard Seeborg explains it by saying his ruling is not about the permissibility or legality of the policy, further stating:
“Policy decisions remain for the political branches of government to make, implement, and enforce”.
Just that by U.S. law, immigrants cannot be returned to “unduly dangerous circumstances.”
And that, according to the judge, is what’s at issue here.
The judge did not immediately put his order into action, giving the administration a little time to appeal it.
Still, rulings like that will only throw fuel on the fire: Trump’s fire. He’s already making hay of it on Twitter.
• Meanwhile, the White House killed a hard negotiated plan to allow baseball players from Cuba to play in the U.S. major leagues. Up til now, Cuban players had to defect in order to play. In MLB’s initiative, supported by the Obama administration, Cuban players could be recruited, and would receive 100% of their negotiated salaries. However, Cuban baseball would also get a payment in exchange for letting their player go. Trump’s folks call that a payment to the Cuban government, and say it endorses using baseball players as “economic pawns.” But as NBC Sports puts it:
“It’s hard to say how this ruling serves anyone’s interest other than politicians who want to appear tough on Cuba for their own political interests.”