Cultivating a Culture of Hate and Fear

Trump caricature

Caricature used under Creative Commons license

Make no mistake: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric is part of stirring up violence across the country. The white man who massacred people in the Tree of Life synagogue on Saturday was inspired by a hatred of Jews and immigrants. His social media postings denounced the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) for “bring[ing] in hostile invaders to dwell among us.” For a bit of context:

“[The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society—HIAS] was founded in 1881 to help Jews fleeing the pogroms in the Russian Empire. In the second half of the twentieth century, it also aided Jews leaving Hungary, Cuba, Iran, and Ethiopia, and non-Jews from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In the two-thousands, hias reshaped its work to help displaced people all over the world. The organization works on resettlement in the United States, in refugee camps, and also processes the paperwork for people applying for resettlement through the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees.”

Denouncing yesterday’s synagogue shooting, Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action, said:

“Today’s shooting is not the only act of violence this week committed in the name of hate. Only two days ago, two Black Americans were killed, including the father of the woman in charge of diversity and equity for the city of Louisville, after a gunman attempted to enter First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown with the intent to kill African Americans. Both instances of gun violence come in the shadow of a string of pipe bombs sent to several Democratic officials and public figures.  

“Since day one, the current administration has cultivated a culture of hate and fear, using dangerous rhetoric that gives cover to violent actors. As people of faith, we are called to work in opposition to the administration’s attempt to disconnect us from one another in their effort to retain power. The hate-filled and dangerous rhetoric and the violence must stop.”

On Tuesday, Trump plans another appeal to hatred, invoking a sweeping border crackdown in the week before the election. Never mind that the immigrant caravan won’t arrive for weeks. Never mind that the most serious threat to U.S. security comes from within, from the rabid and weaponized ultra right. None of that matters: he will fulminate against immigrants in order to energize his base for the November 6 election.

Beyond rhetoric, the New York Times reports, Trump “is considering steps that would bar migrants from crossing the border and deny them a chance to apply for asylum in the United States, measures that legal scholars and immigrant rights groups say would contravene U.S. laws and international treaties, likely triggering challenges in federal court.”

Under the direction of DHS and the Attorney General, the Border Patrol is already refusing individual migrants the right to apply for asylum. Now the President of the United States is planning a wholesale denial of access to asylum. Denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum is patently and blatantly a violation of U.S. and international law.

The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define rights and protection for people who qualify as refugees. Application for asylum is the way that people seek that protection and assert those rights at the border or within the United States.

Like most of our U.S. immigration laws, 8 USC 1158, which governs asylum, is long and complicated. What is not complicated is the initial mandate:

“Any alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States (whether or not at a designated port of arrival and including an alien who is brought to the United States after having been interdicted in international or United States waters), irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum …” (emphasis added)

Barring migrants from applying for asylum violates this law. Presidential violation of laws is no longer even surprising. Time after time, Trump has demonstrated disrespect for and disregard of the law.. Just a few days ago, he reiterated his praise for a Congressman’s physical assault on a journalist—a crime to which that Congressman pleaded guilty. He has encouraged supporters to “knock the crap out of” protesters at his own campaign rallies, and recently saidit’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters.”

When a president takes office, they swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Violating that oath should have consequences.

About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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