Lacking any other ideas, Trump and doubles down on border cruelty, firing everyone who stands in Stephen Miller’s way

I wanted to write about immigration yesterday, after news broke that Donald Trump had fired Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, but I just didn’t think that I could do the subject justice, given the sheer magnitude of everything that’s been happening. But, with that said, I’ve decided to give it another shot right now. Only, this time, I’m going to lower the bar for myself considerably… What follows isn’t meant to be exhaustive. And it certainly isn’t meant to be a replacement for real reporting that you might find elsewhere. It’s just one man’s unfocused rambling about a subject that deserves much better. So, with that said…

Trump is fucked. He’s made immigration his signature issue, and he doesn’t have a fucking clue as to how to navigate it. He knows, when he says something nasty about immigrants on the southern border, he gets a good response from the conservative base, so he continues to do it, but he clearly has no fucking idea how to move from casually racist tweet to formal U.S. policy. And it’s painful to watch. Every instinct that he has tells him to talk about how terrible things are at the border, but, then, at the same time, he knows that he’s now been president for over two years, and that doing so reflects badly on him. So he tries to walk this line between fact that fiction, where, on one hand, he says the border is “tight” thanks to his heroic efforts, and, on the other, he paints a portrait of violent gang members pouring over the border in magical vehicles filled with drugs and sex slaves who have been bound with insidious blue tape. And, as you can imagine, this doesn’t exactly make life easy for the men and women charged with enacting his vision… One day, for instance, he’s signing an executive order ending his own administration’s family separation policy, and not long afterward, he’s berating his appointees for not continuing the cruel and illegal policy that he’s vowed publicly to stop.

And that seems to be why Kirstjen Nielsen is now out of a job. She apparently couldn’t convince Donald Trump that she just wasn’t able to reinstate an illegal program that he himself had rescinded by way of executive action… Here’s the background from CNN.

…Three Thursdays ago, in a meeting at the Oval Office with top officials — including Nielsen, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, top aides Jared Kushner, Mercedes Schlapp and Dan Scavino, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and more — the President, according to one attendee, was “ranting and raving, saying border security was his issue.”

Senior administration officials say that Trump then ordered Nielsen and Pompeo to shut down the port of El Paso the next day, Friday, March 22, at noon. The plan was that in subsequent days the Trump administration would shut down other ports.

Nielsen told Trump that would be a bad and even dangerous idea, and that the governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, has been very supportive of the President.

She proposed an alternative plan that would slow down entries at legal ports. She argued that if you close all the ports of entry all you would be doing is ending legal trade and travel, but migrants will just go between ports.

According to two people in the room, the President said: “I don’t care.”

Ultimately, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney seemed to have been able to talk the President out of closing the port of El Paso. Trump, however, was insistent that his administration begin taking another action — denying asylum seekers entry. Nielsen tried to explain to the President that the asylum laws allow migrants from Central America to come to the US and gain entry. She talked to the White House counsel to see if there were any exceptions, but he told her that her reading of the law was correct…

Senior administration officials also told CNN that in the last four months or so, the President has been pushing Nielsen to enforce a stricter and more widespread “zero tolerance” immigration policy — not just the original policy started by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and undone by the President once it was criticized — that called for the prosecution of individuals crossing the border illegally between ports of entry, resulting in the separation of parents from children.

According to multiple sources, the President wanted families separated even if they came in at a legal port of entry and were legal asylum seekers. The President wanted families separated even if they were apprehended within the US. He thinks the separations work to deter migrants from coming.

Sources told CNN that Nielsen tried to explain they could not bring the policy back because of court challenges, and White House staffers tried to explain it would be an unmitigated PR disaster…

And, when Nielsen couldn’t do the impossible, she was forced out… Fortunately, though, she left the Department of Homeland Security in good hands, describing her Deputy Secretary Claire Grady, who would be taking her place, as “a steady force and a knowledgeable voice.” And I suspect she was, for the following day or so… Grady, you see, just announced that she too would be leaving as a part of the President’s purge.

So, the Secretary of Homeland Security was fired, the Acting Deputy Secretary was forced out, and, at the same time, the White House announced that Trump’s nominee to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is no longer heading toward confirmation. And, all of this happened within a day or so of Randolph “Tex” Alles being fired as the director of the Secret Service. So, as of right now, the Trump administration has no permanent Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the EPA, Secretary of Homeland Security, Budget Director, White House Chief of Staff, U.N. Ambassador, FEMA Administrator, ICE Director, or Director of the Secret Service. And Donald trump will soon be losing both the Director of the Small Business Administration and the Director of Customs and Border Patrol. This, I don’t think I need to tell most of you, is not only unprecedented, but absolutely fucking insane.

And this leadership vacuum means that, at least as far as immigration is concerned, Stephen “Donald Trump Will Not Be Questioned” Miller is going to be taking a more central role… and that’s not a god thing for humanity.

And, this, my friends, is where I start to lose focus, as there are so many elements of this story that I want to share, but I just lack the time and energy to do so in a coherent way… So let’s just have a few bullet points.

• Donald Trump does not understand immigration law… A few days ago, in Calexico, California, our President criticized the 1997 immigration ruling that makes family separation illegal. The case, known as Flores v. Reno, involved a 15 year old girl by the name of Jenny Lisette Flores, who had come to America n the ’80s, seeking asylum from El Salvador. Donald Trump, apparently not knowing this, lashed out a “Judge Flores” while in Calexico. “Judge Flores, whoever you may be, that decision is a disaster for our country,” Trump said, apparently unaware that Flores was the girl at the center of the case, and not the judge presiding over it. You would think, given that his family separation policy was killed because of this case, he might know the most basic of facts, but apparently not.

• Donald Trump again said today that family separation was a policy of the Obama administration. This is false.

• Donald Trump, while in California, told his fans that we don’t need any more immigrants, as our country is, “full”. It is not.

• Donald Trump, while at he border a few days ago, instructed U.S. border agents to break the law, and keep asylum seekers from entering the country.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. Trump is becoming more of a threat to the rule of law, and the circle of people around him is getting progressively smaller, more desperate and more insane. And, you can be sure, this will not end well.

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  1. iRobert
    Posted April 9, 2019 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    None of Trump’s silly tweets can be translated into policy. We have rediculous chaos on all fronts. But this is how folks like FF, EOS and HW want it to be, and through 2024. It’s like a collective suicidal impulse or something.

  2. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    I’m sad seeing Kirstjen Nielsen go. I’ll miss that extraordinary frown of hers. I like the authenticity of it. She looks like we all feel.

  3. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to imagine how miserable it must be working in this administration. The experience must be something akin to what the characters in the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life” endure. The rotten little 6-year-old brat character portrayed by Billy Mumy would probably have a better grasp on how government works however.

  4. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 6:40 am | Permalink

    That’s so neat. You can just say crimes are imaginary and certain people believe you.

  5. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    “None of Trump’s silly tweets can be translated into policy. We have rediculous chaos on all fronts. But this is how folks like FF, EOS and HW want it to be, and through 2024. It’s like a collective suicidal impulse or something.”

    Jush absholute rediculish chaos. Yeah, thash how I like it.

  6. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Don’t be surprised if the DHS just…goes away…

  7. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    We could have the conservative policies you, EOS and FF want, without the lunacy and recklessness of Trump, if only we replaced him with a normal person through the primary process.

    I’m in favor of renegotiating trade deals which have been bad for the US. I’m also in favor of maintaining an immigration system which keeps dangerous people out and processes people humanely. What I would prefer to do without is all this random craziness which happens as a result of having a rediculous clown in the Oval Office. We can have all those things you see as benefits without having to endure this ridiculous freak in the process. Trump is not a necessary part of anything anyone wants or supports.

  8. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    See it however you want. Doesn’t change the reality that President Donald Trump is destroying the Central Bank/CIA/etc. system.

  9. EOS
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    AOC said the illegal immigration is caused by global warming. If only we could buy them all air conditioners….

    Trump is a genius by comparison. You can keep focusing on his tweets while he accomplishes great things. He will fix the immigration crisis – wait and see.

  10. wobblie
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Aloha EOS, Do you deny the reality of climate change refugees? It is so much easier to demonstrate your christian charity by making fun of them isn’t it.

  11. Kim
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    TRUMP: “We have the worst laws of any country anywhere in the world.”

  12. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    ‘Catch and Release’ has got to be about the dumbest thing imaginable so yeah. “Come back for court now…”

  13. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:17 am | Permalink


    I hope you are right and that something great is accomplished despite the circus in the White House. I am much less optimistic.

    I wouldn’t want AOC to be president either. Saying “Trump is a genius by comparison” is absurd though. She occasionally says something odd or untrue, but Trump rarely says something that isn’t odd, untrue, or both.

    Is it really somehow necessary that the country endure this ridiculous circus in order to accomplish the goals you are hoping we do? Can this all not be accomplished without the frightening situation of having this bizarre imbecile at the helm for another five and a half years?

  14. Anonymous
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    “wait and see” is the Trump version of “the check is in the mail.”

  15. EOS
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:42 pm | Permalink


    Your tactic won’t work. Trump has 53% support of likely voters. Better than in 2016. If we didn’t support the incumbent we would end up similar to where the Democrats are now, with a huge divide pulling in different directions.

    I get it that you would prefer a different Republican than Trump. Most Democrats also preferred Snyder to the other more conservative options for governor. And we got an administration that couldn’t handle the Flint water crisis as a result. No Thanks. I don’t think voters should choose the lesser candidate in the other party, because sometimes it works out that the worst candidate wins.

    There’s a huge ideological split in our nation. What Democrats don’t seem to understand is that Republicans detest the Democratic candidate to the same degree that you don’t like Trump. My OCS is your Trump.

  16. Meta
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Washington Post: “Twelve days of chaos: Inside the Trump White House’s growing panic to contain the border crisis”

    He had threatened to close the southern border and ordered a halt to foreign aid for three Central American nations. But as President Trump weighed his next move to respond to a mounting immigration crisis, he had another problem: His homeland security chief was in Europe on a week-long business trip.

    The location of Kirstjen Nielsen, the embattled leader of the Department of Homeland Security, on April 1 was like a bad joke for a president who vowed to curb unauthorized immigration but was now showing signs of panic as border crossings spiked to the highest levels in more than a decade.

    Except no one was laughing, and Trump was livid. Nielsen was in London, then headed for Stockholm and Paris, to huddle with U.S. allies on counterterrorism and cybersecurity issues. Although Nielsen aides had informed the White House of the trip, Trump complained to her on the phone that she was out of town while the border was, in his words, out of control, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.

    Nielsen, who had barely hung on to her job during previous run-ins with Trump, cut her trip short and flew back to Washington. Upon returning, she furiously tried to save her job. Nielsen convened emergency calls with White House aides and Cabinet officials to urge them to help her on immigration, White House officials said. She ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deploy “emergency surge operations,” shifting up to 750 officers from other duties to help the overwhelmed Border Patrol. But by then it was too late.

    Trump was souring again on Nielsen over her opposition to his demands that DHS reinstate the family separation policy that the president had reversed last summer after a political backlash. Trump considered firing her upon her return, aides said, and though he held off briefly, Nielsen’s fate was sealed.

    Read more:

  17. Eel
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Is this the same Stephen Miller who as a student said that he was “sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash, when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us.”

  18. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 12:58 pm | Permalink


    AOC is not president. Nor is she running for president. If she were president, I would certainly be supporting a challenge to her in the Democratic primaries.

    I am just concerned about the dangers of having this bizarre, immoral character in the most important position of power in the world. It’s reckless not to replace him with someone knowledgeable, intelligent, moral, emotionally mature and stable, as soon as possible.

    I will continue appealing to every Republican regarding this, and ask that we remove this person from office and replace him with someone with the qualities necessary to handle the duties of president. I will probably be taking some time off to campaign in Iowa and/or New Hampshire for this. We will see how many Republicans are as blind and reckless as you are. I suspect many are not, and will prefer a more sane alternative.

  19. EOS
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    You don’t get it. Republicans/Conservatives consider Democrats to be bizarre and immoral and someone like Trump to be the more sane alternative. The problem with Trump is that he is not conservative enough, but he is handling the duties of president better than the last two office holders.

    You might get a few Democrats in New Hampshire to vote for a different Republican, but most will want to weigh in on the Democratic side. Iowa is a different story. They picked Trump by a 9.5% margin over Clinton. They won’t risk splitting the vote and letting a Democrat sneak into office in the General election.

  20. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Well, EOS, we will see. I will report back to you what I find. I know that many Republicans are fully with Trump. But I’m sure there are many who want to go in another direction.

  21. John Brown
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    EOS, I get it. The GOP are a bunch of amoral, fascist enabling, anti-democratic narcissist trying to turn the USA into Gilead.

    For everyone else, may I suggest the DPMS Oracle 5.56 at Dunhams for $449.

  22. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I saw one poll which claimed 40% of Iowa Republicans welcomed the idea of a challenge to Trump in the caucus there. I’m wondering how accurate that poll might have been. I’m also wondering how soft the Trump support is if there is a reasonable alternative presented. If Mitt Romney or John Kasich ran, I can imagine a pretty good number feeling comfortable with one of those alternatives. Bill Weld is a bit unknown, but a good campaign can turn that around in the many months we have ’til the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

    The RNC has been worried about a challenge. Maybe they’ll even effectively shut down the primary process essentially.

    From NPR:
    RNC Members Want To Block A Primary Challenge To Trump, But The Rules May Stop Them

    From New York magazine:
    Republicans Could Cancel Primaries to Protect Trump From a Challenge

  23. EOS
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Mitt Romney and John Kasich both tried and failed. Losers. Bill Weld is from Taxachusetts. He’s a pawn of Romney, the Never Trump guy. And who cares what liberal media outlets have to say? Better you start planning for the 2024 comeback. See if you can find and groom someone who can beat Pence.

  24. Eel
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    In that photo Barr looks like he’s eaten about a dozen Filet-O-Fishes too many.

  25. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    “The GOP are a bunch of amoral, fascist enabling, anti-democratic narcissist trying to turn the USA into Gilead.
    For everyone else, may I suggest the DPMS Oracle 5.56 at Dunhams for $449.”

    Your soul is ill.

  26. iRobert
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    We will see about all that, EOS. There is certainly no certainty that Trump can beat the Democratic challenger next year. If the Democrats don’t shoot themselves in the foot, as so often happens, Trump could have a serious challenge to overcome. Trump being on the ballot will certainly motivate a lot of Democrats and moderate independents to get out and vote.

  27. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I think you actually envy white supremacists. You want to have some of that same style of fun. You are like “If they can spread hatred and violence then I can too!”

  28. Hyborian Warlord
    Posted April 10, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Not you, iRobert. You are slightly less confused than some of the others.

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