So much for “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” On Tuesday, acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, Ken Cuccinelli announced the administration was not willing to grant Temporary Protective Status to Venezuelan immigrants. Trump has been an advocate for interim President Juan Guaidó and his opposition faction, but his administration’s unwillingness to grant Venezuelans TPS contradicts their constant support for the opposition. Just last week an internal memo obtained by The Times, outlined the administration’s supposed plan to divert more than $40 million in humanitarian aid from Central America to the government of Juan Guaidó.
Also this week, the administration announced new immigration rules that would end asylum protections for almost all migrants who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the new rules, asylum seekers who pass through another country before arriving at the southern border will not be eligible for asylum in the U.S. if they did not apply for asylum in their country of transit. Even then, they will only be eligible in the U.S. if their application was turned down elsewhere. These new rules are in violation of both U.S. and international law—with the U.S. Refugee Act of 1980 limiting the right of asylum if the applicant can be sent back to a “safe third country,” a designation the Trump administration has tried to convince Mexico and Guatemala
To close off the week, at a campaign rally in Greenville, North Carolina, Trump continued his attack on four congresswomen—Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (NY-14), Ayanna Presley (MA-7), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), and Ilhan Omar (MN-5)—who have all criticized the government’s handling of migrants at the U.S. southern border. As Trump focused more heavily on Congresswoman Omar, the crowd at the rally began chanting “send her back.” This was in connection to Trump’s tweet on Sunday telling all four congresswomen to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.” After criticism from Republicans and senior aides, Trump disavowed the behavior and claimed he tried to contain it, but video evidence shows this is untrue.
The events played out this week are further proof of how important—and polarizing—the topic of immigration is in the U.S., and its importance in presidential debates throughout this campaign cycle. We’ve already seen Democrats go at it during the first round of the Democratic debates, but the intensity will only rise as we get closer to 2020.