Archives for category: Cruelty

The Noble Network is the leading charter chain in Chicago. It boasts of high test scores. It is the darling of the Chicago white elite, including such luminaries as former Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and billionaire Penny Pritzker, who served as Obama’s Secretary of Commerce. White apologists and admirers of the strict no-excuses discipline policy claimed that black and brown children needed the tough rules so that they could learn middle-class behaviors. David Whitman published a book praising “no-excuses” schools called Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism, in which he praised the high-performing schools (mostly charters) that enforced “no excuses.” His book was published in 2008; in 2009, he became the chief speech-writer for Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who often lavished praise on “no excuses” charter schools.

The Noble Network wrote a letter to its alumni, apologizing for its strict “no excuses” policy, which it acknowledged was “racist.” Over the years, critics have said that the practices of “no excuses” schools are racist, but they were defended by charter advocates based on their test scores. They argued that the ends justified the punitive and harsh means. To be sure, the “no excuses” practices enabled charters to kick out the kids who did not conform and did not meet the school’s demands. The high suspension and attrition rates contributed to their “success.”

Chicago’s largest charter school network sent a letter to alumni this week admitting that its past discipline and promotion policies were racist and apologizing for them. The apology is notable not just as an acknowledgment of misguided policies, but as a repudiation of the “no-excuses” philosophy adopted by many charter schools during the 2000s.

For years, Noble Charter Network had an ultra-strict approach in which students, for example, got demerits for small offenses, such as not wearing a belt, not following a teacher with their eyes and failing to sit up straight or wear black dress shoes. After a certain number of demerits, students had to pay for behavior classes. If they continued to get demerits, they could be forced to repeat a grade, which led many to transfer out.

The email calls the discipline and promotion policies “assimilationist, patriarchal, white supremacist and anti-black,” according to the email sent to alumni on Monday. “We were disguising punishment as accountability and high expectations. We did not fulfill our mission to ALL students,” the email continues.

The letter set off a firestorm among former students, some of whom feel vindicated and others who say they think it was disingenuous. Some alumni point out the email did not explain what changes have been made, offer any type of reparations or ask for their feedback. Instead, the email includes a survey about whether they would want to participate in alumni events...

With about 13,000 mostly Black and Latino students, more than one in 10 Chicago public high school students goes to a Noble campus. For years, Noble’s “no-excuses, sweat the small stuff” philosophy was well-known and embraced by the school district and by some of the most prominent Chicagoans.

Its founder and chief executive officer Michael Milkie saw this approach as fundamental to the network’s success. He highlighted the fact that his schools, which don’t require a test for admission, out-performed neighborhood high schools. The Noble campuses are consistently highly rated with impressive high school graduation and college-going rates. Charter schools are largely publicly funded but privately managed.

Mayors touted Noble’s success and big donors such as former governor Bruce Rauner and the former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and her husband Bryan Traubert lined up to support them financially. The organization’s most recent audit shows it brought in nearly $200 million in fiscal year 2020, the vast majority from tuition payments from Chicago Public Schools, to run its 17 campuses. It also raised $9.4 million last year.

But Noble’s campuses also had high student suspension and expulsion rates. Charter schools can set their own student discipline codes, and even as CPS changed its disciplinary practices to move away from suspension and expulsions in district-run schools, it never held Noble accountable for its practices.

In fact, in recent years, charter school suspension data has not been publicly available through the school district. But CPS officials are now applauding the apology by Noble. “All schools should continually self-evaluate biases and act to change them if a student group is being disproportionately impacted,” they said in a statement.

Noble is one of a number of charter school networks across the country, opened in the 2000s, that touted strict discipline and high expectations. Like Noble, these schools serve mostly low-income Black and Latino students. Facing criticism, many of them have backed away from the rhetoric of no-excuses.

Noble might be the first to ask forgiveness from alumni...

Some students say the super-strict discipline made them dislike school and changed their vision of themselves as students.

“For the most part, it felt like every day going to high school was dreadful,” Collins said. “At most high schools, the goal is to graduate and go to college. When I hit Hansberry, my only goal was to get through the day without getting into detention or getting suspended.”

Collins said she will never get back the innocence, time or money that the school took from her. She said she started getting demerits her freshman year in 2015 for coming late or not wearing a black belt or leaving class to go to the bathroom without an escort.

Up until 2014, Noble charged students for each demerit, but that practice stopped after it was revealed that Noble was catapulting families into debt and sending a collection agency after them.

Collins, who rarely got in trouble in elementary school, got so many demerits at Hansberry that she had to pay for several behavior classes.

Collins said her mother started to see her as a troublemaker. Then, at the end of her sophomore year, her demerits rendered her unable to be promoted. She left and went to Hyde Park High School where she graduated early. She’s now a student at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Congressman Jamaal Bowman, experienced teacher and principal and teacher, was elected last November and now is a member of the House Education Committee. He was outraged by the announcement that the Biden administration demands a resumption of annual testing. He denounced it as “a big mistake.” He knows what kids need, and it’s not testing.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Tuesday joined progressive education experts in criticizing the Biden administration’s decision to mandate standardized testing in schools despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“We have an obsession with arbitrary testing metrics above all else, even in the middle of a pandemic that’s dislodged every facet of American life.”
—Rep. Jamaal Bowman

Bowman (D-N.Y.)—a former teacher and principal—argued that “prioritizing testing in the middle of the pandemic is a big mistake.”

“It’s a mistake that reflects a broader problem in American education,” the first-term congressman said in a statement. “We have an obsession with arbitrary testing metrics above all else, even in the middle of a pandemic that’s dislodged every facet of American life. We’ve forgotten that testing is one useful tool, and should not be the goal of education in and of itself.”



John Thompson, retired teacher and historian in Oklahoma, reviews a book of memories written by immigrant children about their ordeals. We will long suffer the embarrassment of Trump’s cruel immigration policy, but the children will never forget.

Thompson writes:

Where the Rainbow Ends: Project VOICE Visions of Inclusion, Culture, and Empathy, edited by Jamie Hinds and Savanna Payne, is the latest book by Oklahoma City Public Schools English Language Development students. This year’s volume faced an additional challenge as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person instruction. But these resilient authors have overcome far greater challenges.

The student-authors started with the reasons why they left Central America, Mexico, Africa, and Asia for the United States. Most described harrowing experiences crossing Mexico, with many facing brutal encounters with the U.S. Immigration Services. Fortunately, despite continuing obstacles, almost all have had a better experience in Oklahoma City.The stories were peer edited. The student-authors are anonymous, often not even revealing their gender.  Most were forced to immigrate by climate change or the murder of family members or other threats by gangs. This post focuses on the majority who immigrated from Central America.

They begin with a description of life in their previous homes, and with the stress of departure.  A 15-year old, who had “always considered myself the man of the house” left Guatemala when it became too hard to get food and water. Early in the trip, his family was starved by the “coyote.” They were crowded into a truck full of 50 people until reaching the border, and walking through the desert.  Separated from his mom by Immigration, he spent three frightening days without seeing the sun. Fortunately, Texas church members accepted them and helped them travel to Oklahoma City.

A 13-year-old started the trek, alone, from Guatemala. He or she was picked up by the coyote, who charged $3,000, and was crammed into a truck with 35 people, along with the “zetas’” marijuana and cocaine. This was followed by the terrifying ride on the train called “the Beast.” After four months in detention, he or she was reunited with their mother and is now the “happiest child because I have [had] a lot of years without my mom.”

Similarly, a 12-year-old left Honduras and was crowded into the Beast. He or she saw passengers thrown off the train and killed. A 13-year old girl left Honduras after being sexually accosted and almost kidnapped. During the trip, she and others were stored in an ice cream trailer without food for three days. She learned two valuable lessons though. “There are good as well as there are bad people,” … and if molested, children should “trust their parents and do not remain silent.”

Then there was the cruelty of the American detention system. It was bad enough, said one immigrant, to be locked up in Sinaloa for 15 days, but upon arriving in the U.S., the young person was thrown into “the cooler.” Another was “put in the cooler’” and then sent to a “safehouse” for 2-1/2 months. One of 3,000 detainees described immigration officers who “were very rude to everybody,” and put them in a freezer for up to 4 days. Another spent 8 days in the cage and then was sent to foster care in New York.

Some revealed complicated endings to their story. A girl started working at 9 years-old, but kept her grades up until she had to leave Guatemala at 11. When she was put in truck and babies cried, the guide put rags in their mouths. The babies turned purple and the immigrants were afraid they’d die. They later had to sell their clothes for food and water, and escape from kidnappers. She’s since moved back and forth among family members in Oklahoma. Another Guatemalan student concluded that now, “I am half agony and half hope, although perhaps more agony.”

A Guatemalan was 5 years- old when “they” killed his grandfather, who was a father to him or her, in front of their family. He or she started to “grow up with the mentality that everything in my life would be wrong,” and has had to mature without a stable family. He or she observes, “I’m a good student, I respect who gives me roof, I have many values in my life,” but would like “a life without so many questions, that nobody answers [for] me.” The author understands that humans have to make difficult decisions, but his or her story is “so painful, so empty” and it warns about the effects of “the lack of love and feelings protected.”

Others had unambiguously happy endings to their stories. A student-author had been comfortable in Guatemala, before losing everything. In the U.S., they found a house and a job, and bought a car. So, “Now we are blessed … now I get to go to school. This is the start of a new journey.” Similarly, a Guatemalan girl helped her dad sell bananas, and had enjoyed parades. In Oklahoma, she learned “no matter who you are, if you are small, skinny, fat, pretty, ugly or colored if they are real friends, they will love you as you are.”

Another Guatemalan was threatened by police for money, locked up with 30 people for 2 weeks, and traveled across Mexico with 28 people in a van. But the story closed with a thank you for helpful Americans, concluding “If you think of Oklahoma, I hope you’ll think of Jim and Jean Dawson. …”

Read the book, and comparably profound insights will be offered from immigrants from other countries. The father of a 16-year-old  from Juarez was murdered by extortionists, but now he is happy and calm in Oklahoma City, and tells the story in support of others who have endured worse. Another high school student concluded, “Mexico still calls me,” and “Oklahoma made me strong.  Mexico makes me safe.”

An elementary student said her life in Mexico made her mature, but she also loves clean, beautiful streets, and stores of the U.S. Some of her Oklahoma classmates made fun of her, but others were helpful. When feeling broken, she relies on God. And she concludes, “I wanted to exceed the limits people thought I had because I was Latina.”

One of the first and most important decisions that Secretary-designate Miguel Cardona will make is whether to grant waivers to the states that want to suspend the annual federal testing mandated by the Every Student Succeeds Act. Some states–like New York–intend to request waivers, in light of the turmoil and unequal access to education caused by the pandemic. Others–like Texas and Arkansas–plan to proceed with their regular testing program regardless of the harm inflicted on students, teachers, and families by the past year.

Education Trust, headed by former Secretary of Education John King, has organized several groups to demand that Secretary Cardona refuse any requests by states for waivers. It makes no sense for a group of corporate reformers to insist that the Secretary of Education reject the requests of states that sincerely believe their students will be harmed if the federal government refuses to grant waivers at their request. Shouldn’t states have the authority to decide what is in the best interests of their students?

As I explained in my article in the Washington Post, the standardized tests have no diagnostic value. The tests are given in the spring, and the results are returned in the fall, six months later. Teachers never learn what their individual students do or do not know. The tests do not help the students or their teachers. They do not reduce inequity. They do not narrow or close achievement gaps. Because of the tests, schools have sacrificed the arts, civics, history, science, even recess. They have harmed the quality of education.

It is time to turn the corner on two decades of failed test-and-punish strategies. The last NAEP showed that the kids at the very bottom actually lost ground in recent years, despite (or because of) the heavy emphasis on testing. If we really cared about equity, we would reduce class sizes in the high-needs schools and make sure that they were staffed with experienced teachers. There are many positive ways to improve the schools, and more standardized testing is not one of them.

What can parents do? Opt out. It is wrong to test students this spring when access to education was disrupted by the pandemic. Do not allow your child to take the tests. They are pointless and meaningless, this year more than usual.

While other states are requesting waivers from federally-mandated tests this spring, Texas is moving forward, requiring all students to take in-person tests.

Given the stress and dislocation caused by the pandemic, this is madness. State Commissioner Mike Morath was never an educator, and apparently he lacks common decency. Instruction has been uneven for almost a year, and many students have experienced the trauma of severe illness and death in their family. What is Morath thinking? He is certainly not thinking of the well-being of students.

Texas public school students must show up in person to take the STAAR test this spring, and districts can apply for waivers to socially distance test takers, according to recent guidance released by the Texas Education Agency.

The state is moving forward with the state standardized tests, taken in grades three through 12, this spring and summer during the pandemic and requiring students to take them at a “monitored” testing site. School districts can set up sites outside of their schools, including performing arts centers, hotels and recreation centers where they can “ensure equitable access and maintain test security.”

Texas is requiring all districts to allow in-person learning for all students who want it, with few exceptions. A state survey at the end of October showed 2.8 million of 5.5 million students were learning on campus, meaning millions were still learning remotely.

Although some may be reluctant to return in person during a pandemic, Texas high school students receiving remote instruction who do not show up to take the required standardized exams may not be able to graduate. Texas has already said students in younger grades who fail required STAAR exams can move up to the next grade. And as of December, school districts will not receive state ratings this year based on how their students perform on the exams.

Sara Stevenson was a middle school teacher and librarian in Austin, Texas, for many years. She wrote this post in response to the current crisis, which reminded her of Lord of the Flies.

She begins like this:

Several editorialists have compared recent events to the 1954 classic and bane of high school students for decades, The Lord of the Flies by William Golding. As a former high school English teacher, I taught the novel about a group of British school boys, early teens and younger, whose plane wreck lands them on a deserted island with no adult supervision.

Watching the images of the Trump mob assaulting the Capitol, the parallels with the novel stood out sharply, especially images of Jake Angeli, the face-painted “warrior” in a Viking hat, also known as QAnon Shaman.  

In The Lord of the Flies, when the boys first realize there are no adults, they are jubilant. Soon the boys choose their first leader, Ralph. Piggy, the bespectacled intellectual, advises the naturally popular Ralph as the boys create their own parliamentary rules of order and assign roles for keeping a signal fire burning and hunting pigs for meat.

Jack, the charismatic bully, leads the group of hunters who gradually defect from Ralph’s rule. Jack’s pig hunts morph into hunts for an imagined Beast, a shared hallucination the boys all fear. Simon, the “Christ figure,” warns Ralph and the others that there is no beast, that “the Beast is us.” When Simon appears alone on the beach in a mist, the boys in a frenzy, mistake him for the Beast, shout “Kill the Beast, spill his blood,” and murder him. 

Later Roger, the sadist, becomes Jack’s henchman and levers a giant stone to crush Piggy, the voice of reason, who is trying to make peace as all but some “littluns” have defected from Ralph’s leadership.

When a Royal Navy crew finally discovers the boys, Ralph is being chased to death by Roger and the other boys with their sharpened spears. The naval officers shake their heads at the idea that British boys had turned into such savages.

Steve Nelson was head of school at the Calhoun School. He is now in retirement. He writes frequently about the need for child-centered education.

“RESIST!”  Bernie Sanders? AOC?  Malcom X? Saul Alinsky?

No, this was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s plea to Education Department staffers as she ends her term in office. As reported in The Hill, she specifically implored them to “Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students.”  DeVos evoking the language of progressive activism is rich – almost as rich as DeVos herself.

She has gotten scant attention in the chaos of these last days.  It seems unjust to allow her to go so quietly from the party.  It is only in the shadow of Bill Barr, Scott Pruitt, Michael Flynn, Wilbur Ross, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, Mike Pompeo, Ben Carson, Stephen Miller and many others that DeVos’s breathtaking awfulness would go uncelebrated.

I am here to right that wrong.

As with other Trump appointees, her most luminous qualification for the position was absolute disdain for the mission she was tapped to lead.  She had demonstrated  decades of hostility toward public education and her antipathy has continued unabated on the job.

Her educational “philosophy” is built on several premises that have informed her life’s work. 

Her education activism and support of reform are, in her words, “a means to advance God’s Kingdom.”   She has proclaimed that “the system of education in the country . . . really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run.”  To this end she has been a tireless advocate for voucher programs which allow parents to use tax dollars for their children’s enrollment in religious schools.  In Florida, for example, 80% of vouchers, to the tune of $1 billion, go to religious schools, where evolution is just theory, gay students are unwelcome and every course is offered through a Christian lens.

Her advocacy for charter schools is built on the second premise: Profit is a divine right and any budding entrepreneur who can walk and chew gum is qualified to give education a shot. In her home state of Michigan this has resulted in a checkerboard of charter schools that fail as often as Trump casinos and where the odds of getting a good education are like playing the roulette wheel.  The shifting of public money to charters has hollowed out the public system in Detroit, for example, where kids of color are often shuffled to and from a half dozen startups and shutdowns in just one school year.  To extend the simile, it’s a bad deal for children.

This manifestation of her “activism” seems very much like the source of her immense wealth:  Amway.  The very American Amway system also allows  any budding entrepreneur who can walk and chew gum to give Amway a whirl. The odds of success are similar to the odds of success for charter startups – meaning very low indeed.  Unless, of course, you are at the top of the pyramid. Every sucker who loses is a gain for the house.  

Amway aside, her business acumen is a bit suspect.  She was a major investor in Theranos, a remarkable scam whose founder is facing felony counts of fraud.  She and her husband are also up to their corrupt ears in another corporate scam, Neurocore, which has been charged for using unapproved (FDA) devices and deceptive (FTC) marketing.  As a kicker, they invested in a Broadway show that closed after three weeks.  Like her patron saint Trump, it’s just so much winning.

I would be remiss if not pointing out that she is, in these respects, an iconic representative of the contemporary Grand Old Party which is committed to the same principles: that we are a Christian nation and that everything done for private profit is de facto better and more efficient than anything done for public good.

A few other highlights:

She supports using federal funds to arm teachers.

She dramatically altered Title IX to give more rights to boys and men accused of sexual misconduct and to significantly limit the authority of educational institutions to support women or use their own discretion.

In her confirmation hearing, she knew nothing about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), saying states should do whatever they want.

She called historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) “pioneers of school choice,” seeming to miss that they were the result of segregation and that they were founded because black students had no choices.  It’s like admiring a particularly fine porcelain drinking fountain in Jim-Crow-era Alabama and praising it as a pioneer in hydration choice.

President-elect Biden has selected Dr. Miguel Cardona to replace DeVos.  He is a vast improvement.  For those who continue to work  in the Department of Education, we must say, “Resist!”

This article in the Irish Times by Fintan O’Toole is one of the best analyses of the reign of Mad King Donald that I have read.

His hairstyle has been toned down. His demeanour – malign, self-obsessed, reckless of truth and decency, revelling in the harm he has done and can still do to the norms and institutions of democracy – has not. 

This continuity is ominous. Trump was able to upend American politics before he was in office. There is every reason to think he will still be able to do so after he is replaced by Joe Biden on January 20th.

It is useful to go back to the period in 2016 when Trump was where his successor is now: the victor in the election but still not president. For it was in this interregnum that Trump took a single action that was scarcely noticed at the time but that, more than any other, defined his presidency.

That action had both the political destructiveness and the personal brutality that would become familiar as the primary weapons in Trump’s armoury. It consisted merely in ordering a load of ring-binders full of carefully compiled documents to be dumped. 

It was the day after Trump’s victory party, held of course in the garish Trump Tower in Manhattan. Chris Christie, who was still governor of New Jersey, a successful Republican in a heavily Democratic state, was the man with the 30 bulging binders.

In them was the transition plan, the crucial details of how a Trump administration was going to work, including shortlists of pre-vetted candidates for all the top jobs in the administration, as well as timetables for action on key policies and the drafts of the necessary executive orders.

It had taken a team of 140 people assembled under Christie’s chairmanship nearly six months to create the plan. 

Fired with immediate effect

When Christie arrived at Trump Tower, he was met by Trump’s then consigliere, Steve Bannon. Bannon told Christie that he was being fired with immediate effect “and we do not want you to be in the building anymore”. His painstaking work was literally trashed: “All thirty binders”, as Christie recalled in a self-pitying memoir, “were tossed in a Trump Tower dumpster, never to be seen again”.

With Trump, the personal and political could never be separated and both were equally at work here. The personal was silverback gorilla stuff, humiliating Christie was a sadistic pleasure and a declaration to established Republicans that Trump was the boss of them all now.

The political message was one that took longer to sink in. A transition plan implied some kind of basic institutional continuity, some respect for the norms of governance.

At the beginning, as at the end, the idea of an orderly transition of power was anathema to Trump.

Why? Because a timetable for action and a commitment to appoint, to the thousands of positions filled by the incoming president, people with expertise and experience, would constrain him. He was not going to be constrained.

Too many people did not get this. It is hard, after such a relentless barrage of outrage and weirdness over the last four years, to remember what the broad consensus about Trump was at the beginning of 2016.

It was that he wouldn’t be nearly as bad as he looked. To adapt the old saw about campaigning in poetry but governing in prose, he had campaigned in Gothic horror but he would surely govern in the realistic novel…

At worst, Trump would do nothing. He’d sit around eating cheeseburgers and making calls to Fox News, while the serious people got on with serious things.

All of this was to grossly underestimate Trump. He may have done plenty of the cheeseburgers and Fox News stuff. But he also kept his eye on the great strategic prize: the creation in the US of a vast and impassioned base for anti-democratic politics.

The big question to be answered about Trump is why he did not do two things that might have seemed obvious: infrastructure and war.

One of the things that was genuinely appealing about Trump in 2015 was that he said something that everyone knows but that American politicians avoid acknowledging because it is too downbeat.

This truth is that the infrastructure of the richest country in the world – the roads, railways, bridges, dams, tunnels – is woefully substandard. Trump said this and promised to fix it. Polls showed that two-thirds of voters approved.

Did not start a war

But he didn’t fix it. He presented a plan in 2018 for a relatively tiny $200 billion investment (supposedly to be supplemented by $1.5 trillion of private money). It went essentially nowhere.

The other thing he didn’t do is war. For all his belligerence and violently nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric, Trump didn’t start a new war or escalate an existing one, which makes him unusual among modern presidents.

Arguably, these two things – building infrastructure and starting a military conflict – might just have got Trump re-elected. So why did he not do either of them?

His personal laziness is certainly one explanation: galvanising and directing such huge efforts is hard work.

But there is a deeper reason. Great building projects and military engagements validate the idea of government itself. Trump’s overwhelming instinct was to destroy that idea.

It is not just that Trump really was not interested in governing. It is that he was deeply interested in misgovernment.

He left important leadership positions in government departments unfilled on a permanent basis, or filled them with scandalously unqualified cronies. He appointed people to head agencies to which they had been publicly hostile.

Beneath the psychodrama of Trump’s hourly outbursts, there was a duller but often more meaningful agenda: taking a blowtorch to regulation, especially, but by no means exclusively, in relation to the environment.

This right-wing anarchism extended, of course, to global governance: the trashing of international agreements, withdrawal from the Paris climate accord, sucking up to the leaders of mafia states, and open contempt for female leaders like Angela Merkel and Theresa May. 

With this discrediting of democratic governance, it is not just that we cannot disentangle the personal motives from the political ones. It is that the replacement of political institutions by personal rule was precisely the point.

Trump’s aim, in the presidency as in his previous life, was always simple: to be able to do whatever the hell he wanted. That required the transformation of elective office into the relationship of a capricious ruler to his sycophantic courtiers.

In this nexus, the madder the better. Power is proven, not when the sycophants have to obey reasonable commands, but when they have to follow and justify the craziest orders.

Wild swings of position

There is no fun in getting your minions to agree that black is black. The sadist’s pleasure lies in getting them to attest that black is white. The “alternative facts” that Trump’s enabler Kellyanne Conway laid down at the very beginning of his administration are not just about permission to lie. They’re about the erotic gratification of making other people lie absurdly, foolishly, repeatedly…

This is his legacy: he has successfully led a vast number of voters along the path from hatred of government to contempt for rational deliberation to the inevitable endpoint: disdain for the electoral process itself.

In this end is his new beginning. Stripped of direct power, he will face enormous legal and financial jeopardy. He will have every reason to keep drawing on his greatest asset: his ability to unleash the demons that have always haunted the American experiment – racism, nativism, fear of “the government”.

Trump has unfinished business. A republic he wants to destroy still stands. It is, for him, not goodbye but hasta la vista. Instead of waving him off, those who want to rebuild American democracy will have to put a stake through his heart.

Trump slammed the door on immigrants, not just those without papers, but those who were vetted and approved. Sonali Kolhatkar is a journalist, talk show host, and activist in California. She expected to bring her parents from India, but Trump blocked their entry. Now she hopes that Biden will open the door to legal immigration.

She writes:


In April 2020, just as I was putting together the final stages of an arduous sponsorship application for my parents to obtain legal residency, President Trump signed an executive order upending our lives. Under cover of the COVID-19 pandemic, he enacted a 60-day suspension of most immigrant visas including those that enable citizens to sponsor their non-citizen parents. Two months later, Trump added more visa categories to the ban and extended it until the end of the year.

Trump’s cruel anti-immigrant agenda separated untold numbers of families, including mine. Will the new administration fix the mess?

Although the authority to change immigration laws lies with Congress, Trump managed to push through many aspects of an anti-immigrant wish list he has been touting for years. Americans like me suddenly have no access to the same rule that first lady Melania Trump used to sponsor her parents from Slovenia.

While the horrifying cases of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border have justifiably drawn public indignation, the spectrum of separation is broader than most Americans realize. According to the advocacy group Value Our Families, Trump’s green card ban affects people like my parents who are being sponsored by their adult U.S. citizen children, as well as the spouses and children of green card holders, and the children and siblings of U.S. citizens. An estimated 358,000 people attempting to immigrate through available legal processes are affected...

As we wait for Biden to take the reins of government and do the right thing, my family will remain separated. Meanwhile, each day I can see from my backyard the newly built home, financed through the savings of my foreign-born parents, that sits empty and waiting for them.

When the history books are written in years to come, the Trump administration’s cruel, callous, inhumane treatment of immigrant children may well be the most horrifying chapter.

Caitlin Dickerson writes in the New York Times that border officials are sending unaccompanied minors to Mexico, even though it is not their home country and they have no family there.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/30/us/migrant-children-expulsions-mexico.html?referringSource=articleShare

U.S. border authorities have been expelling migrant children from other countries into Mexico, violating a diplomatic agreement with Mexico and testing the limits of immigration and child welfare laws.

The expulsions, laid out in a sharply critical internal email from a senior Border Patrol official, have taken place under an aggressive border closure policy the Trump administration has said is necessary to prevent the coronavirus from spreading into the United States. But they conflict with the terms upon which the Mexican government agreed to help implement the order, which were that only Mexican children and others who had adult supervision could be pushed back into Mexico after attempting to cross the border.

The expulsions put children from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador at risk by sending them with no accompanying adult into a country where they have no family connections. Most appear to have been put, at least at first, into the care of Mexican child welfare authorities, who oversee shelters operated by religious organizations and other private groups.

The expulsions, which appear to number more than 200 over the past eight months, reflect the haphazard nature with which many of the administration’s most aggressive immigration policies have been introduced. In many cases, they have led to the shuffling of young children between U.S. government agencies and now, between the governments of countries that are not their own. For years now, the Trump administration’s handling of migrant children has left members of families separated for months on end and unable to reach one another.

A report to the courts earlier this month revealed that the parents of 545 such children currently in the United States, some of them separated from their families as long ago as 2017, still have not been located.

Under existing diplomatic agreements and U.S. policies, children from countries other than Mexico are supposed to be put on flights operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to their home countries, where they can be reunited with their families.

Rumors of children from other countries being expelled into Mexico have swirled among nonprofit workers advocating for child welfare in Mexico and the United States. But locating any such children has been difficult because of spotty reporting from Mexican government authorities.

But an email from the U.S. Border Patrol’s assistant chief, Eduardo Sanchez, obtained by The New York Times, makes it clear that such transfers have not only occurred, but that they are a clear violation of U.S. policy.

“Recently, we have identified several suspected instances where Single Minors (SM) from countries other than Mexico have been expelled via ports of entry rather than referred to ICE Air Operations for expulsion flights,” Mr. Sanchez wrote.