I’m still trying to wrap my head around Ron DeSantis tricking innocent women and children into flying to Massachusetts

I’ve been going over again and again in my mind the incident involving the (mostly) Venezuelan migrants who were tricked into boarding two planes from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard.

This is from a statement read to reporters by Rachael Self, a Boston immigration attorney who is now on the island representing the migrants:

They were told there was a ‘surprise present’ for them and that there would be jobs and housing waiting for them when they arrived. This was obviously a sadistic lie. Not only did those responsible for this stunt know that there was no housing and no employment awaiting the migrants, they also very intentionally chose not to call ahead to any single office authority on Martha’s Vineyard so that even the most basic needs arrangement could be made. Ensuring that no help awaiting the migrants at all was the entire point.

They were provided with a cartoonishly simple map of Martha’s Vineyard and the United States. … And instructions to change their address with USCIS [United States Customs and Immigration Service] when they relocated. This is especially troubling as anyone with even the most basic understanding of immigration proceedings knows that USCIS was not the agency with whom the migrants would have to record their addresses. And has nothing to do wtih their cases in any way. It is clear that this was an intentional attempt to ensure that the migrants were removed in absentia when they failed to change their address with the proper agency.

This was a purposeful derailment to prevent people from complying with federal immigration policies. This is problematic because the state [of Florida] should not be interfering with federal immigration policy. Before they boarded the planes, the migrants were processed by agents of the Dept. of Homeland Security who listed falsified address on the migrants’ paperwork. Agents apparently chose random homeless shelters across the country, from Washington to Florida, ot list the migrants’ addresses, even when told by the migrants that they had no address in the U.S.

According to the paperwork provided to them, the migrants are required to check-in with the ICE office closest to the fake addresses chosen for them by DHS, or be permanently removed from the United States. With some required to check-in as early as [the Monday after they arrive on the island].

That last part bears repeating and clarification.

DHS agents put on the migrants’ paperwork random names of out-of-state homeless shelters sometimes thousands of miles away from an island in Massachusetts. Thereby making it impossible for any of them to perform the required check-in at the address DHS agents listed on their paperwork, ensuring that they would be eligible to be deported for not following the laws those DHS agents made it impossible for the migrants to follow.

I’m not as shocked as some others that this was done. After all, we know that much of federal law enforcement is riddled with MAGA types who likely believe in the white supremacist “replacement theory” that immigrants are moving to America en masse with the primary purpose of replacing white Christians as the dominant population.

Once you’ve changed migrants, in the minds of racist yahoos with badges, into what essentially amounts to enemy combatants in a war against Caucasians, the fact that you’re abusing mothers with children is the least of your concerns.

But, Ron DeSantis, man. In some important ways he is far scarier than Trump.

The Orange Menace of Mar-A-Lago is a man for whom education was a wasted effort. Trump is too stupid to fully understand the implications of what he’s doing because Trump is incapable of thinking forward to consequences that do not affect him directly.

DeSantis went to Yale undergrad and Harvard Law School. He’s smart enough to realize the ominous forces he’s unleashing in this country, and he not only doesn’t care, he’s obviously thinking of new inhumane ways to appeal to the worst elements in the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, see this article, “DeSantis gets standing ovation from GOP voters after flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.”

I really thought we’d have flying cars and something resembling an advanced civilization by now.

The migrants in Martha’s Vineyard.

This article about the Trump family separation policy is just as jaw dropping as I’d heard it to be

I just finished writer Caitlin Dickerson’s exhaustive (and much talked-about) piece in The Atlantic about the insidious genesis and disastrous implementation of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy at the border. It’s a lot to digest given the byzantine nature of both the politics behind the policy, and the dizzying alphabet soup of federal agencies and programs involved.

I had no idea, for instance, of the myriad ways that immigrants seeking asylum at southern border — the vast majority who are not criminals, that is — can be handed off from the Border Patrol to ICE to HHS and elsewhere. The system already seems primed to lose track of people. Add into the mix an effort to purposefully yank screaming toddlers out of the arms of their mothers, and it’s easy to understand how people with nefarious motives could use the immigration bureaucracy toward amoral ends.

One part of the debacle that gob-smacked me was that I kept wondering, “Why had nobody thought to sit down and create a simple spreadsheet tracking the children who were taken away?” With just a few data points I could create one myself in an hour or two, and I’m no Excel expert.

I wasn’t the only one confused by that, as the Atlantic article makes clear:

[U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas John] Bash and other U.S. attorneys were flabbergasted by the ineptitude of those who had created the [family separation] policy. “I remember thinking, Why doesn’t someone just have an Excel file? ” Bash reportedly said. “I mean, it’s a large population in human cost and human terms, but it’s not a large population in terms of data management. We’re talking about a few thousand families. You can have all that on one spreadsheet with the names of the people, where the kid’s going. It was just insane. I remember being told that there was going to be a phone number parents could call and know where their kids were. And I told a public defender that and she was like, ‘This phone number doesn’t work, one. And two, most parents don’t have access to phones where they’re being held, or they have to pay for the use of the pay phone. So that doesn’t work.’ ”

Bash asked the Justice Department to launch an investigation into why parents and children were not being reunited expeditiously, still not fully understanding his agency’s role in the scheme. He created a list of questions that he wanted answered, which were shared with Gene Hamilton, Rod Rosenstein, and others at DOJ: “What technology could be used to ensure that parents don’t lose track of children?”; “Is it true that they are often pulled apart physically?”; “Why doesn’t HHS return the child to the parent as soon as the parent is out of the criminal-justice system, on the view that at that point the child is no longer an ‘unaccompanied minor’?” Rosenstein responded that the U.S. attorneys should try to find out what was going on themselves. The attorneys sent the questions to their Border Patrol counterparts, but their inquiries were ignored. “DHS just sort of shut down their communication channels to us,” Ryan Patrick, the U.S. attorney in South Texas, told me. “Emails would go either unanswered, calls would go unreturned, or ‘We’re not answering that question right now.’ ”

There wasn’t a way to track the children who were yanked from their parents because the Trump people wanted to inflict as much pain as possible. They didn’t want it to be easy, if possible at all, to reunite these terrified, damaged children with their loved ones. They fully expected — nay, they counted on it — that these children would never see their mothers again.

I seem to recall a government in the 1930s that thought taking newborns and toddlers away from undesirables and placing them with “acceptable” families in the homeland was good family planning.

I will admit here that I’ve always considered immigration to be a lesser issue, at least in terms of broad goals for a more just domestic society. Americans spend so much time being distracted and divided by the billionaire-funded right-wing echo chamber that has all of us fighting over immigration and abortion and drag queen story hours. Fighting about those important, but ultimately peripheral issues, keeps all of us from truly reforming laws related to Wall Street and the billionaires; from transforming the system so that Fox News and OAN and the people who pull their strings are no longer in charge.

If we did that rising up and taking power from the people who really hold it in this country, then many of these other issues would eventually become less controversial and easier to solve in rational ways, away from the white-hot cauldron of manipulated public opinion.

Now that I’ve read Dickerson’s heart-breaking article, however, immigration has moved up my list of motivations for the upcoming elections.

We cannot let the Trump monsters who pushed these inhumane policies — many of whom are federal career bureaucrats still employed at DHS, HHS and the Justice Department — from holding power. Because they are waiting for their chance to do it again. Next time, however, they will have lessons learned; namely, to first get rid of any of the people who stood in their way last time.

You can read Dickerson’s article at this link.