March 14, 2020

A horrifying discussion on AM Joy today revealed how Donald Trump’s cruelty means migrants face extra dangers from the coronavirus pandemic. Given the cramped conditions at detention centers, if one detained migrant gets COVID-19, “It’s going to be a massacre, because everyone will get it at the same time,” host Joy Reid said, quoting the fears of a Cuban asylum seeker.

Guest Maria Teresa Kumar pointed out that the dangerous cruelty began before the coronavirus, when detainees died of the flu because the Trump administration refused to provide flu shots.

Now, Trump’s cold-bloodedness is endangering the rest of us. People from the outside go to the detention centers and then back into society, Kumar said. Also, there is additional danger posed by un-detained immigrants who are afraid to get tested or go to a medical facility.

Trump could help ward off disaster but it would mean finding an ounce of human decency.

KUMAR: The American public is at risk if the president does not create a protocol from the White House and says if you are one of the 11 million undocumented individuals living in this country, we are going to provide you a reprieve. We are not going to have any ICE agents located at any medical facility. We want you to get tested.

The reason this is so important is that these 11 million people, they are the backbones of our economy. They’re the ones that are taking care of our elderly, they’re the ones that are picking our food, they're the ones that are in restaurants, they’re the ones in the hotel industry. The list goes on.

It is a public safety measure for the president to use his Oval Office to do the right thing, to ensure that every American is safe and everybody living within our borders are safe. … I want to ensure that in the event that something happens that our government has the system to make sure that if I am in contact with them that it is not transmitted. But that can only happen if the president does the right thing and declares that this is a public emergency for everyone, regardless of status.

Reid said that releasing vulnerable detainees who don’t threaten public safety could also help alleviate the risks.

But neither of those solutions are likely to happen. Trump wants to keep the number of coronavirus cases low (for his own political health) but he also wants to keep detention numbers high, Reid said. “Part of the psychology of Trumpism” is his base likes seeing “a lot of brown people getting locked up and being mistreated,” she added.

In case all that isn’t sickening enough (pardon the pun), guest Dean Obeidallah noted that Trump has used the pandemic to further his white nationalism.

OBEIDALLAH: If you were wondering how an incompetent white supremacist would deal with a global pandemic, we are seeing it with Donald Trump.

His Oval Office speech included such dog whistles as calling the COVID-19 a “foreign virus” that is being “seeded” in the U.S. by foreigners, Obeidallah said. Also, Trump is exploiting fears to claim that building his wall on the Mexican border will protect us from the “Chinese” virus.

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