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The Big Man’s Small Hostages

Aghast at What He’s Doing to Immigrant Kids

NEW YORK--Why don’t we call the terrified children whose incarceration is riveting the country what they are at this point?

Not migrants. Not detainees. Not pawns, although that comes closest to the mark.

They’re hostages.

President Trump is using them as flesh-and-blood bargaining chips, hoping that their ordeal and reasonable Americans’ disgust with it will get him what he wants. This isn’t some theory that I’m basing on the whisperings of unnamed administration officials whose candor the president can dismiss as fake news put out by a maleficent media.

It’s the only conclusion reachable from his and his lieutenants’ own words. Falsely claiming that they are bound by law to separate families who cross the border illegally, they say that they could and would gladly abandon the approach--if only Democrats joined them in supporting a package of new immigration legislation.

At a miserable White House news conference on Monday, Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, slithered around and away from reporters’ questions about the children’s suffering by saying, “What the president is trying to do is find a long-term fix.”

Translation: He can live, in the meantime, with this short-term horror. Can everybody else?

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