Wednesday, June 26, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said that migrant families were dying now because of things Democrats would do if they were in power.

Trump was asked today about a recent news photo of a man and a young girl drowned in the Rio Grande. (Scroll down on this post to see the image, which is graphic.) Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria were traveling from El Salvador to seek asylum in the United States. 

Trump responded by blaming Democrats, saying that deaths like this happen because “[Democrats] want to have open borders, and open borders mean crime, and open borders mean people drowning in the rivers." (In reality, no one from either party has called for "open borders.")

There are two specific government actions that are relevant, though. Earlier this year, Trump cancelled economic aid to El Salvador, the country Ramírez and his wife and daughter were fleeing, and two other Central American countries. This aid had been used to help prevent the nightmarish conditions in those countries from getting worse and creating more refugees.

Trump has also pressured border agents to slow-walk asylum claims made at ports of entry. This has created backlogs and forced migrant families to stay in dangerous conditions on the other side of the border—or to attempt to enter the United States at other points. The day before their deaths, Ramírez and his daughter had tried to cross over a bridge that led to the checkpoint in Brownsville, Texas, but were turned away. By law, asylum claims do not need to be made at official ports of entry.

Trump had previously claimed that asylum claims are a "big fat con job," and that potential asylum-seekers needed to be treated badly (including having their children taken away from them) in U.S. custody as a deterrent. 

Speaking to reporters today, Trump did not try to explain why Ramírez would have risked his and his family's lives for a "con job."

Why should I care about this?

  • A president who can't or won't take responsibility in any way for any bad outcome isn't capable of doing the job.
  • Preventing deaths of children and refugees is more important than scoring political points.

The image of Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter Valeria after being discovered drowned in the Rio Grande is below. It is graphic.

The bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his 23-month-old daughter, Valeria, were found in the Rio Grande on Monday.
Julia Le Duc (AP)

Martínez and his daughter in a photograph taken last year, provided by family members.