In a combative interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli came across as hard-hearted as President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
While the viral footage played showing Vice President Mike Pence‘s visit earlier this week to a border detention facility in McAllen, Texas, where nearly 400 men were packed into a fenced-in cage, host Jon Karl read from Josh Dawsey’s Washington Post pool report describing the horrendous conditions the detainees were forced to endure.
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Karl then asked the question that most American citizens with even an ounce of empathy and pride in their country have been asking since Trump’s immigration policies were put in place: “How can this happen in the United States of America?”
Predictably, Cuccinelli blamed Democrats. “Congress has let it happen. It’s that simple,” he said. The director then went on to disingenuously explain a supplemental appropriation bill from June that did not pass Congress. He neglected to mention, of course, how the cramped conditions, lack of food and the family separation policy are all the actions of the Trump administration and can be halted with a strike of a pen.
.@jonkarl on conditions at migrant facilities: "How can you allow this to happen?…Isn't that a basic human rights violation?"
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) July 14, 2019
But Cuccinelli’s callousness was most palpable when Karl asked about basic human rights—rights which the Trump administration is actively trying to redefine.
“If you don’t have the resources, you can’t detain these people, can you? Isn’t that a basic human rights violation?” Karl asked.
Cuccinelli actually laughed while saying, “Sure you can” detain them while also saying, “No,” that it’s not a human rights violation. He added, “I mean, they’re being fed.” Remember, this is the same administration whose lawyer argued that migrants do not need access to soap or a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Karl followed up: “They don’t even have enough space to lie down.”
Cuccinelli then went back to deflecting and relying on talking points that have become the norm for Trump administration officials on this topic. They frame the hardships caused by the administration’s actions as a “crisis” created by the number of people trying to enter the United States illegally, instead of honestly saying that they are purposely making conditions harsh and heartless to both appeal to their supporters and to discourage people living south of the US-Mexico border to even consider coming to America.
Karl continued to push Cuccinelli while talking about the men in the video, saying, “Isn’t there also a law about how you treat human beings?”
Cuccinelli replied, justifying the cruelty by saying releasing immigrants is not an answer because they may not show up for their asylum hearings.
The answer to Karl’s earlier question—How can this happen in the United States of America?— could not be more clear. Those who hold the ultimate power in America today have zero empathy for immigrants. Like Senator Chris Coons said last week, “We’ve got an administration that has intentionally used cruelty to children as a tool of immigration policy.”