Just hours after MSNBC’s John Heilemann compared the idea of holding migrant children and their families to “concentration camps,” primetime host Rachel Maddow had equally hyperbolic analysis. According to Maddow, the migrant detention centers are “kind of like Guantanamo.”
The MSNBC host devoted a five-minute monologue trashing the Trump administration’s “plan to indefinitely imprison immigrant families.” She began by noting that “the agencies that do immigration stuff in the US Federal government” are “all run by acting officials.”
Maddow suggested that this was no coincidence: “In the time no one has officially been running any of the agencies that handle immigration for the US government, the Trump White House has unveiled their three most radical, anti-immigrant policies since the Muslim ban.” These “radical, anti-immigrant policies” referred to “their new plan to basically block people from applying for asylum in this country,” “their new plan to make it so that only people with lots of money and maybe private health insurance are allowed to immigrate to this country at all,” and now, the new rule that would seek to detain migrant families for longer than 20 days.
After she finished complaining about the “radical, anti-immigrant policies,” Maddow unveiled her comparison of the migrant detention centers to the detention center that has held terrorists captured in the War on Terror: “It’s kind of like Guantanamo, where 18 years after 9/11, we’re still today holding people that the military picked up in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack.”
Maddow’s comparison of migrant detention facilities to Guantanamo Bay is hardly an original idea; Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith accused the Trump administration of orchestrating a “Guantanamo Bay for Children” during an appearance on MSNBC earlier this summer.
For the record, the Trump administration has no intention of holding migrant families for 18 years. They merely plan to hold families in detention until a judge decides whether or not their asylum claim is valid. If history serves as any guide, most of these families will eventually have their asylum claims rejected.
Maddow did not let these facts get in the way of trying to scare her audience into believing that the Trump administration wants “that kind of indefinite detention capability for immigrant families and kids who may have committed no crimes whatsoever.” After noting that the proposed rule by the Trump administration that has gotten her and everyone else at MSNBC bent out of shape will not go into effect for 60 days, she instructed her audience to fear not because “they’re going to have the living daylights sued out of them on this.”
While Maddow referred to the new rule by the Trump administration as “a re-election campaign announcement,” an actual re-election campaign announcement might want to focus on the hysteria espoused by Maddow and Heilemann. Trump Derangement Syndrome will no doubt loom large on MSNBC between now and Election Day 2020.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Wednesday’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show is below. Click “expand” to read more.
The Rachel Maddow Show
RACHEL MADDOW: Right now, the US government does not have a Secretary of Homeland Security, the US government also does not have a Chief of Customs and Border Protection, the US government also does not have a Chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the government also does not have a Chief of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. And all of those agencies have similar sounding, overlapping names, I know. But together, those are all the agencies that do immigration stuff in the US Federal government. And there is no one formally in charge of any of those agencies right now; up to and including the whole Department of Homeland Security. They’re all run by acting officials who have been slotted in there after the last people running those agencies left or were fired. It’s all short termers, no one confirmed by the Senate, no one who’s been vetted at all in any way, except by the White House, which is great at that because it’s the White House that appointed these folks to run all of these agencies on just an acting basis. Well, in the time that no one has officially been running any of the agencies that handle immigration for the US government, the Trump White House has unveiled their three most radical, anti-immigrant policies since the Muslim ban. Just in the past few week with…past few weeks with nobody running all those immigration agencies, they have announced their new plan to basically block people from applying for asylum in this country. They announced their new plan to make it so that only people with lots of money and maybe private health insurance are allowed to immigrate to this country at all. You know, like all our ancestors did; all our rich, rich immigrant ancestors who fled here seeking a safe place to park all their piles of cash, right? All their stock holdings and their excellent private insurance plans. You know, everybody’s family story goes like that. Right? They’ve just now today announced their third major policy change in recent weeks, which is a plan to indefinitely imprison immigrant families. Immigrant families and specifically kids who cross the border, under a new rule proposed by the Trump administration, they’ll be held literally indefinitely; at the pleasure of the Trump administration, with no rules any more about how long they’re allowed to hold even little kids who are held alone and apart from their families. It’s kind of like Guantanamo, where 18 years after 9/11, we’re still today holding people that the military picked up in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attack. They’ve been held there for 18 years with no trial, with no charges. It’s so weird, that’s such a weird anomaly in American governance that we have to hold Guantanamo offshore in another country. That’s our prison in Cuba because that’s so weird. Well now, they want that kind of an indefinite detention capability for immigrant families and kids who may have committed no crimes whatsoever. There’s a legally binding consent decree that requires the federal government today to not hold kids longer than 20 days. The Trump administration has been breaking that order frequently, as well as other restrictions in that rule on…on the conditions in which kids are supposed to be held. A lot of what we know about the terrible conditions kids have been held in by the Trump administration is because of lawyers who are charged with enforcing that court order; that settlement. Those lawyers have been allowed in. They must be allowed into those facilities, to see if the government is in compliance with that consent decree. Well, this new rule from the Trump administration, would take the government out of that legal settlement all together. It would allow them to hold kids forever, for years if they want to. And it would have the handy side benefit of making it so that no more pesky lawyers would have to be allowed into those facilities, to monitor whether the government is doing anything the courts say they ought to be doing. Don’t worry, though, the new plan in the Trump administration rule is that nobody else can set standards for the conditions in which they’re going to hold these immigrant kids…immigrant kids. Again now, potentially for years, potentially forever if they want to. Their new rule, their new proposed rule announced today is that there will no longer be any need for any third party or state licensing of any of the facilities where they want to hold these kids. Because they’re saying, actually under this new rule announced today, ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, they’ll license themselves. They’ll set their own standards, they’ll inspect their own facilities, nobody from the outside will have to come in at all. It will be fine. This new rule announced today by the Trump administration is set to be published the day after tomorrow. Theoretically, it will go into effect 60 days thereafter but the reason that’s only theoretical is because they’re going to have the living daylights sued out of them on this in the meantime. Even so though, man, I mean, this is seriously what they’re proposing to do: indefinite imprisonment of immigrant children who have committed no crimes; months, years, however long they want to hold them in facilities with no outside inspections, no lawyers peeking in, no court oversight. And if that sounds nuts, of course, given how they’ve been treating kids thus far, that’s the point. That’s the grounds on which they want you to re-elect Donald Trump for President. Because can you believe what he dreamt up to do to these kids, to these immigrant moms and dads and their kids? Right? This is a re-election campaign announcement as much as it is anything else. It’s also the next legal fight they’re going to wage and likely lose.