Walls, Moats, and Borders

Rafia Zakaria in The Baffler:

IF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION were a medieval court, and some, including the man at the top, would like it to be, then Stephen Miller would be the sly and artful courtier ever in search of hospitable moments in which to further his cause of an all-white America. He may sometimes get shafted and shamed, but Slinky Steve never gives up. Take a look at his most recent failure: after Trump tweeted with relish a Miller-inspired plan to “suspend immigration into the United States,” the plan ended up lifeless on the castle floor. Reportedly through the interventions of Jared Kushner, the luminescent son-in-law of the ruler, what would have been ambitious plan to install a gator-ridden, extra-deep moat around all the land was reduced to a mere puddle.

By the time it was signed on April 22, Trump’s executive order did not, as hardliners would have wished, halt all immigration; it only stopped the processing of green cards for immigrants not already in the United States—with a number of major exceptions, including for spouses and children of U.S. citizens and health care professionals—for sixty days. Foreign workers, both the highly skilled and the migrant laborers, could stay. It was a dud document, its teeth extracted by Kushner and other powerful men who had held the president, a devoted xenophobe, back. Miller likely spent the day after this defeat sulking in his West Wing dungeon, sharpening the proverbial knives he would need for the next battle. He still believed that victory was imminent, he told supporters of his moat-and-wall vision in a phone call, assuring them that he wouldn’t “leave them hanging.”

They will be left hanging, but not owing to the vertiginous details of Trump court politics, nor the mercurial fortunes of those who want the president’s ear. For an interminably long three-and-a-half years, Trump Inc. have been dangling the halcyon apparition of an all-white America before their followers. Every few months, they have been thrown a travel ban, a limitation of asylum, or a ban on refugees, so that their ardor for Trump never cools. This most recent order would have been another iteration of throwing scraps to this herd, a juicy bit of xenophobia to look forward to in uncertain times.

More here.