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President Donald Trump

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The U.S. government declared a ceasefire in a war against itself Jan. 25. The three-week agreement to end the 35-day government shutdown is a compromise to lower the guns so the two sides can talk but, if anything, the weapons are still loaded.

If it were a real agreement, it wouldn’t have been given a deadline.

That’s what the whole government shutdown has felt like, a war, and like any modern war, the people who are hurt most are the civilians caught in the crossfire.

The number of people affected has been reported so often, but it is worth repeating. There were some 800,000 federal workers who were furloughed or forced to work without pay during the government closure, the longest shutdown in this nation’s history. Last week, TBR News Media reported on businesses who assisted those federal workers by providing free food and services. Some of those shops received 200, 300 or more people in a single weekend seeking help, and those same business owners spent hundreds of out-of-pocket dollars to help feed people. Organizations that usually create food kitchens for the holiday season or during national disasters organized for the thousands affected.

Even though the shutdown is over, major news outlets report workers do not know when they will receive their full back pay. Federal watchdogs said it might take the IRS a full year to recover from the lingering effects of the shutdown. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report Jan. 28 saying the shutdown cost the U.S. economy $11 billion, $3 million of which it will never recover.

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump (R) said the likelihood of reaching a deal is less than 50 percent. That’s not good enough.

This government shutdown was a hostage situation, and we at TBR News Media believe it should not become a regular political tool to hang the U.S. economy up by its lapels until it coughs up whatever an individual or political body desires. Another modern country has experienced a shutdown in the past. In 1975, Australia was unable to pass a budget. That shutdown resulted in first, the prime minister getting sacked then later the entire parliament was sacked as well, and a new vote was required to help reform the government. Australia has not had a government shutdown since.

The U.S. requires legislation that mandates some sort of repercussion for politicians that force, or allow, a shutdown to occur. U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced at the start of the closure he would not take any pay while government workers went without. That is a good start, and it should be codified and expanded to include every elected official in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Residents should call upon their elected representatives, like Zeldin, to propose disciplinary measures once the dust of this political wrangling finally settles. While those who work in Congress won’t necessarily feel the pain and indecency that those who have lived without paychecks for several weeks had to endure, it might remind them they were elected to help — not harm — those they swore to represent. 

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A couple at an immigration rally in Huntington Station in July 2018. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Imagine if your week’s paycheck were hung on a hook from a high ceiling, dangling there within sight but not within reach, all because your boss wanted something the rest of the company said he couldn’t have.

The federal government has not had a spending bill pass the House of Representatives for approximately three weeks, and for that stretch of time, hundreds of thousands have been furloughed, been sent home or have had to work without pay as of press time. That includes thousands of Transportation Security Administration officers at airports and air traffic controllers. 

It’s hard to estimate how many Long Islanders have been affected by the shutdown, but they are certainly out there. Recently, the Suffolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals announced it would provide free pet food to government workers who couldn’t afford it due to the shutdown. Long Island Cares, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit food bank, said Jan. 4 it was reaching out to federal employees affected by the shutdown to provide food assistance.

This is the third government shutdown in the past decade and the longest running. There are 800,000 federal workers furloughed or working without pay because of the shutdown, and experts have said there may be a multiplier effect the longer the shutdown goes on, considering the family members of those government workers going without pay. The problem may even impact the larger local economy, harming businesses whose customers must cut back on spending, along with the tourism and travel industries with reports that thousands of TSA officers are calling out sick rather than work without pay.

This latest shutdown has been caused by a laser-targeted policy decision, namely $5.7 billion in funding for a wall on the U.S. and Mexico border. This policy has been near-singularly championed by one official, President Donald Trump (R).

Trump got on national television Jan. 8 to explain to the nation his reasoning on why the U.S. needs a border wall. He made a number of points that have already been fact checked by other news organizations, but suffice it to say he claimed, “The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only: Because Democrats will not fund border security.”

This is simply untrue. Democrats put up a $1.3 billion funding bill for border security measures, including additional surveillance and more fortified fencing. The president would not sign it. It didn’t fund a 2,000-mile border wall.

And that’s what it comes down to — a wall — whether the U.S. will spend billions of dollars on a wall.

This is hostage politics. The Democrats in Congress simply won’t support a wall. The exact specifications for the wall aren’t even set down on paper, and the president is asking the American taxpayer to foot the bill for something immigration experts have outright said will have limited effect on border crossings.

Long Islanders should tell our representatives like U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) to pressure the president to end this dispute, otherwise the effects of a government shutdown will only multiply.

As a country, we have gotten over shutdowns before, and we will get over this one, but while we at TBR News Media feel it is imperative that the border be policed, we believe in bridges, not walls.

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We as a country have experienced a tumultuous and polarizing last few weeks and months. The lead up to the first Tuesday in November and the midterm elections set the American electorate ablaze with strong opinions that saw former elected officials receive rudimentary pipe bombs via the mail.

With that as a backdrop, Veterans Day took place this past weekend, with beautiful, solemn remembrances unfolding at war memorials and firehouses, coupled with more raucous and celebratory parades happening across the North Shore and beyond. The events should have served as reminders that despite our differences, our shared values and appreciation for the sacrifices made by so many that allowed this country to flourish are what will be truly lasting in even the tensest of times.

While we were glad to see photos come through our inboxes and across our social media platforms of these events, we were saddened by an incident that occurred at Heritage Park in Mount Sinai relayed to us by Fred Drewes, a founding member of the Heritage Trust, the nonprofit which stewards the park in partnership with the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County.

Drewes has dedicated much of his own time to beautifying the park and perpetuating a triannual program called the Parade of Flags, which features the flying of  about 100 flags representing American states and other important entities like the military branches lining an area of the park dubbed the Avenue of America. The park features other patriotic imagery including the Court of America, a sitting area with benches, plaques with quotes from presidents and other famous citizens and a rock garden in the shape of the continental United States.

The rock garden contains symbolic rocks, plants and flowers that are native to the corresponding region in which they lay. Blocks featuring the names of all previous 44 U.S. presidents and the years they held office border the garden. President Donald Trump’s block will be added at the conclusion of his tenure, according to Drewes.

Drewes reported to us that during recent weeks someone tore out former President Barack Obama’s block and discarded it in a nearby shrub. We’re not asking anyone to agree with all — or even any — of the former president’s political ideologies or practices, except for one.

“The forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us,” Obama said in 2011 while speaking in Tucson, Arizona, after a gunman shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona).

On Veterans Day especially, but going forward, we’d like to see Americans make a better effort to live by that axiom.

North Shore residents line the corner of Routes 347 and 112 in Port Jefferson Station Nov. 7 in response to the removal of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Photo by Alex Petroski

They say all politics is local.

The national drama of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the potential ties between President Donald Trump’s (R) 2016 campaign and Russian interference in the election experienced an escalation of tensions Nov. 7, one day after the midterm elections, and the response could be heard as far from Washington D.C. as Port Jefferson Station.

Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) resigned that day in a letter that stated the president requested he do so.

As a result, the left-leaning political action group MoveOn organized nationwide protests called Nobody is Above the Law — Mueller Protection Rapid Response to take place across the country Nov. 7 at 5 p.m. A few dozen protestors congregated at the corner of Routes 112 and 347 to make their voices heard and send a message to Washington. The local activist organization North Country Peace Group acted to mobilize North Shore residents in the aftermath of the news.

“[Trump] firing Sessions and everything that he’s been doing since he’s been in the White House is my impetus to get out here,” Ellie Kahana, of Stony Brook, said. “He’s obviously going to try and get rid of Mueller and conceal whatever Mueller is finding out.”

Sessions’ position at the top of the U.S. Department of Justice would ordinarily make him the person in charge of a special counsel investigation, though he recused himself from that investigation to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest because he campaigned with Trump during 2016. Sessions’ potential removal was long viewed as a signal by his opponents that Trump may be moving to undermine Mueller’s probe or even fire him altogether.

When asked by White House pool reporters if acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, whom Trump appointed, was installed to harm the investigation, Trump called it a “stupid question.” While Trump has referred to the investigation as a “witch hunt” repeatedly on Twitter and in interviews, he has yet to take any steps to conceal its eventual findings or cut off its funding.

“I knew this would happen, in fact I thought it would happen at midnight,” said Lisa Karelis, of East Setauket.

Karelis said the Democrats seizing of the U.S. House of Representatives on election night creating the possibility of increased scrutiny triggered Trump’s urgency for a new attorney general. She added Whitaker’s public statements opposing the expanding scope of the Mueller probe prior to his appointment made it clear what the president hoped to accomplish by naming Whitaker acting attorney general.

Members of U.S. Congress and from both political parties have suggested legislation be advanced to prevent removal of the special counsel. The bill has yet to gain enough support to be delivered to Trump’s desk for signature.

The former, albeit short-lived White House employee tells all in exclusive TBR interview

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

Anthony Scaramucci, the one-time White House communications director and Port Washington native, swirled through the Trump Administration like a tornado during his 10-day tenure in 2017. Though if there’s any specific reason he didn’t last as long as he would have liked to, he said it’s because he tells it like it is.

“I’m not the type of person well suited for Washington – I’m honest,” Scaramucci said in an exclusive interview with TBR News Media Nov. 4. “I’m not going to spin like that, I told [President Donald Trump] that.”

Scaramucci travelled back to the vicinity of his old stomping grounds to promote his new book, “Donald Trump, The Blue-Collar President” for a book signing event at Book Revue in Huntington Sunday. Local residents asked questions about Scaramucci the man, but many were especially keen on hearing about his time and experience with the 45th President of the United States.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

Scaramucci was in the White House from July 21 through July 31, 2017, though before he was fired the man known widely as “The Mooch” stunned media correspondents with his uproarious Wall Street financier’s attitude, unafraid of using language not usually seen on air, let alone from the federal government’s top spokesperson. It was that lack of a filter that likely cost him his job, after talking to The New Yorker Magazine reporter Ryan Lizza and saying on the record, “I’m not [former White House Chief Strategist Steve] Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own [expletive].”

Though the former communications director said he owns up to the mistake, that bluster likely brought more than 100 people, both Trump supporters and critics, to Book Revue to ask questions about his experience with Trump, who he said he’s known for more than 20 years.

The author said there is a strategy behind Trump’s consistent attacks on news media. Scaramucci said the president aims to keep the media in disarray for the purpose of galvanizing his base, which seems to enjoy the constant onslaught.

“He is using the bombast as a firecracker to throw into the crowd of the media,” he said. “He tells a lie, a mistruth or creates puffery, they’re going to self-immolate on the air – they will be all upset – while his base is laughing at them. They’ve made themselves part of the story while he’s trying to galvanize that base.”

Though Scaramucci’s advice to Trump is to dial back the attacks he said, at least enough to make the nation’s overall political discourse less volatile.

“If you could shoot somebody on 5th Avenue and still get votes, as you once said, why not try being nice for two weeks?” he said he told Trump. “The president has a very unique personality, and the market price is in, he’s going to say a lot of cuckoo, la-la things. The people who are replicating his strategy are having a hard time. You cannot beat the president on the field he’s playing.”

While Scaramucci said he had asked Trump to dial it back at some points, Huntington Village resident Dominick “Dominooch” Mavellia asked why he should when it was precisely that personality that won him the presidency.

“There’s a huge transitional opportunity for him to keep his base in check and appeal to the center … he’s going to need to secure reelection,” Scaramucci said, responding to Mavellia. “I don’t think he can recreate that map he created in 2016 because [the opposition] has now adapted and pivoted. If he calms it down a little, just moving it down to fourth gear from fifth, still being aggressive on the media, pushing the message towards the middle, and getting those independents he will win a resounding reelection.”

Scaramucci, a former Goldman Sachs banker and founder of the investment firm SkyBridge Capital, is not the first ex-White House official to scribe a book about the experience of working for the 45th president. Omarosa Manigault Newman, former assistant to the president, published “Unhinged: An insider’s account of the Trump Whitehouse” in August, calling Trump a “racist” and saying he was losing much of his cognitive ability.

Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci promotes his new book at Book Revue in Huntington before a crowd. Photo by Kyle Barr

The author of this latest book on Trump said while he was originally approached to write a book just after he was pushed out of office, those publishing firms were looking for a tell-all book similar to what Manigault would later write. He was approached by another, conservative political book publisher Center Street, whom he said published the book to coincide with the midterm elections Nov. 6.

“I wanted to write about what Bannon’s like as a guy, what [White House Chief of Staff John] Kelly is like as a guy,” Scaramucci said. “[Trump’s] surrounded by cockroaches, and they all want to survive him. They think they’re going to be there forever.”

Scaramucci said half the book examines Trump’s 2016 electoral win as he witnessed it with Trump on the campaign trail in 2016. He pointed to states like Wisconsin, battleground states then-candidate Hillary Clinton has been criticized for neglecting to campaign in, where Trump made several trips, as the path to his electoral success.

The other half of the book goes into his short time spent in the White House, lambasting the people he called “snakes,” who he blamed for pushing him out of his position.

“I got an 11-day PhD in Washington scumbaggery, and as bad as people thought it was it all was, it’s way worse,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here for real people to enter into the system and break the corpocracy that’s strangling Washington … though we might not be able to break it.”

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Newspaper publishers, editors and staff members across the country — especially weeklies operating on tight budgets — are breathing sighs of relief.

Last week the United States International Trade Commission overturned President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on Canadian newsprint, and we couldn’t be happier. The tariffs that the U.S. began charging this year caused many newspapers in the country to cut staff or paper sizes — in some cases both — to absorb the rise in newsprint costs. Other publications closed their doors as the additional expense was the breaking point for many outlets, making it impossible to continue operating in an environment already riddled with challenges in a changing industry.

The overturning of this tariff, besides creating a sigh of relief, has demonstrated the balance of power in our country at work.

Many have expressed fear about how much power a president may have or think he has, but our forefathers were visionaries. Declaring their independence from England, they knew a monarchy wouldn’t work in the U.S. All levels of government, from federal down to local, are designed with checks and balances in place in the form of executive, legislative and judicial branches. The president may want something to happen — in this case to impose a tariff — but that doesn’t mean that senators, congressmen, judges and federal agencies have to agree with him. And if they don’t, they have the power to make sure that a bill or an edict doesn’t go forward or remain in place.

Speaking of our Founding Fathers, they ensured the U.S. Constitution contained an amendment to aid in protection of the free press. It was written to allow journalists to fairly report on events and happenings without government interference. This enables reporters the freedom and ability to keep a close eye on what elected officials are up to.

Imagine if weekly, in most cases local, newspapers needed to continue to absorb the newsprint tariff. We presume many more would suffer, and as each one folded, regional and national outlets would be left to try to pick up the slack jumping into areas local news reporters know inside and out. Or worse: No one would pick up the slack.

If the press runs into an issue like this again — government decisions directly impacting our ability to do our jobs effectively — we as an industry have shown there is strength in numbers. In a show of unity, Aug. 16, hundreds of papers in the U.S. published similar
editorials voicing displeasure over the president’s disrespectful treatment of members of the press dating back to his campaign. The goal was to make it clear that the press wasn’t the enemy of the people.

As your local press, we are thrilled to continue to serve you in the years to come.

With great power comes great criticism. The following is a hypothetical diary entry from beleaguered Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who faces routine presidential ire:

I don’t know how much longer I can take this. It’s not fair. Yes, I know my boss is angry, defensive and frustrated, but he’s always picking on me, calling me names. I think he wants to get rid of me.

The other day, he called me “scared stiff” and “missing in action.”

Gosh, that doesn’t sound nice, now, does it?

What’s worse? He didn’t say it to my face: He wrote it on Twitter, where the whole world can see his feelings.

I’ve been turning the other cheek all this time, but I’m running out of cheeks. What can I do?

Maybe I’ll develop a new hobby. I’ll practice that “lock her up” chant that tickles me so. I won’t do it in public. When I’m alone in my soundproof shower, I can say it quietly. I can get a small doll and look down on it, terrifying it the way my boss tries to intimidate me.

I was confirmed as attorney general by a 52-47 vote in the Senate. Now, I know it’s not quite as stunning and exciting as that electoral college win by the guy who keeps insulting me, but it’s still pretty cool and it was a close vote. You don’t hear me telling everyone about the 52 votes I got, the way my boss repeats, all these months later, that he got 304 electoral college votes.

I’m working hard, even though I recused myself from that Russia investigation. I’m just not sure how much more of these harsh insults I can take.

I could resign. I could ride away from this situation into something much more fun and less stressful, like zip lining over an alligator pit. I’m just kidding, of course. There are no alligator pit zip lines but there are some people I’d like to see trying that. “Lock her up, lock her up!” Wait, I got distracted.

I’m serving my country, but it just doesn’t seem rewarding. So, today, I did an internet search, “What to do if your boss is out to get you,” and I found an article in TopResume, a professional résumé service.

It said I should evaluate the situation and see if I’m doing enough. Well, yeah, I am, so check on me, right? Or, maybe, check plus.

Then, it said I should understand my boss’s issues and communication style, and it linked to another article that suggested ways to neutralize a Machiavellian boss. It said I should present my ideas in a way that allows him to take credit. So far, I’m not sure I’ve done that. Then it says I should give him credit but, again, I don’t know what he wants credit for?

My boss also seems like a seagull at times, diving in, depositing steaming piles of advice and then taking off, leaving the rest of us to clean up his mess. Now, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but this sounds a bit like my boss.

I’m also supposed to create a written record so I can go to human resources. I’m not sure what HR office I could approach these days. I’ll say one thing for Twitter: It sure does allow me to keep track of all the things he’s said about me.

Oh, and it also suggested I see the situation as a learning opportunity, helping me be a better boss. I guess if I were ever in his shoes, I wouldn’t need to criticize people publicly.

That’s it for now, diary. Until tomorrow, that is, when he attacks me again.

The president of the United States is taking full credit for the relief those crazy leftist environmental groups are feeling in response to the resignation of the latest misunderstood and much maligned member of his cabinet, Scott Pruitt.

You see, President Donald Trump knew that Pruitt would do his bidding, gutting unnecessary government regulations designed to protect the water, air and food that Americans and, indeed, others on the planet need on a daily basis.

He knew Pruitt would do everything he asked, and more. It’s like the old Stalin philosophy. You remember that ruthless Soviet Union dictator, right? He never wanted any of his tank commanders to be too powerful because he didn’t want their leader taking over.

So, he chose Pruitt knowing that he’d do what Trump wanted and then would become so enmeshed in the world he tried to help — lobbyists, coal interests, insecticide manufacturers — that he would eventually cause harm to himself and his political aspirations.

Trump is, rightfully, taking full credit for the resignation of a man he supported when it was expedient to do so and that he needed to cut loose when the combination of foibles and follies entered the public realm.

Sure, some nasty journalists may have quoted unnamed sources who shared questionable details about Pruitt’s spending habits, his requests for football tickets, his security detail and his desire to get his wife a job. Ultimately, it was Trump who made the call, putting the thorn in the side of the environmental groups and then pulling it out ever so quickly and gracefully.

Well, maybe it wasn’t all that quick. Pruitt lasted far longer in Washington than even members of the “Trump Party” — that’s the new name of the group formerly known as the Republican Party — might have wanted. But, hey, the more people who found Pruitt’s actions and decisions questionable, the greater the relief when he was finally removed from office.

OK, so technically the guy resigned, which means he walked out of the seat of power and into an enormous gas-guzzling sport utility vehicle. But, seriously, does anyone believe Pruitt thought he blew it on his own? No, no, people, wake up. News that the environmental groups all thought was good because they imagined that the EPA might return to its mandate of protecting the environment and the people, animals and trees living here came courtesy of His Truly: President Trump.

Yes, of course, you can thank him for taking nuclear weapons out of the hands of the North Koreans, and you can express your appreciation for the incredibly kind way he pulled back from a zero-tolerance policy he established because of laws the Democrats won’t fix, but don’t forget to give credit where credit is due.

You see, if the president had never tapped Pruitt, who built his career attacking the henhouse that was the EPA from his home in Oklahoma, the greenie groups would never be able to celebrate his removal. No, it’s a total credit to Trump that the reality TV show that was the Pruitt era at the EPA has been canceled.

So, take your time, think of the right words and make sure to thank the man in charge of the world for choosing the right man at the right time and then letting that man walk off into a sunset enhanced by all the pollution-generated particulates he helped put there.

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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13, 2016. With the presidential election 269 days away, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and his caucus set a new precedent, refusing to hold confirmation hearings or a vote on then-President Barack Obama’s (D) nominee Merrick Garland because they believed the American people were mere months away from truly having a chance to weigh in on the decision.

This week Justice Anthony Kennedy, viewed by many as the center-right fulcrum of an otherwise politically balanced bench, announced he would retire. As a result, President Donald Trump (R), with two- to six-and-a-half more years left in the White House, will get his second bite at the Supreme Court apple, having already appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch last year.

If we are to set aside the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans pledging to plow forward with the nomination and confirmation process before the midterms, jus—-t 124 days from now, we don’t think it’s too much to ask for them to consider a few things as they begin the process.

First, can our current political climate handle the nomination and appointment of a partisan justice bent on say, being the deciding vote in overturning Roe v. Wade? Yes, it would score political points with the president’s Republican base and enflame liberals even more than they already are, which seems to be one of the few pillars guiding the right. Do Republicans in Congress truly believe they don’t have a role to play in restoring some shred of compromise and unity in our politics? Would nominating a hard-line pro-life justice this close to what was already likely to be possibly as heated a campaign season our country has ever seen (outside of 2016, of course) really do anything to advance our country’s discourse to a better place than we’re in now?

Further, beyond Roe v. Wade, are Republicans comfortable with the current discourse regarding the free press and the First Amendment? Will Trump be vetting his nominee about their stance on critical issues pertaining to his own legal situation, which includes probes into his personal attorney’s alleged pay-for-play White House access business structure and a special counsel investigation into Trump’s alleged campaign ties to the Russian government and its meddling in our election? Everyone involved is innocent until proven guilty, but if the president intends to impose a litmus test on his nominee for a question like, “Can the president of the United States legally pardon himself?” that should be a red flag to anyone who claims to believe in the rule of law.

We don’t feel it’s too much to ask for Republicans to consider a nominee that could serve as a unifier in as desperate a time as any for a little compromise, even assuming they’ve made up their mind on tearing up the McConnell Rule before the proverbial ink from 2016 is even dry. Both sides like to stake claims to a mythical moral high ground. Republicans, as they cheerlead things like tearing up the Affordable Care Act and labeling the free press as the enemy of the American people, could do more to stake an actual claim to that high ground than they have since Trump burst onto the scene with a nominee in the form of an olive branch.

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In light of current national events, a gnawing question surfaces — what happened to American values?

Even the staunchest defenders of President Donald Trump (R) have to concede what’s currently going on at the borders of the United States is deeply troubling — the separation of parents from their children.

The thought of just one child being separated from his or her family, crying for even a second, should be enough to deter any American with a conscience from supporting the president’s current policy. And yes, it is he and his administration’s to own, no matter what they want us to believe.

The president has falsely claimed the immoral and inhumane policy of separating children from their parents who cross the border illegally was “a Democrat’s law.” It is not a law. Now it turns out, he is signing an executive order ending this loathsome policy.

According to PolitiFact — a fact-checking site owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies — the zero-tolerance policy that the Trump administration introduced in April, and one our president now admitted he has the power to change, has led to the massive uptick in children of all ages stuck in federal facilities without their parents. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Chief of Staff John Kelly have publicly intimated the aim of the new policy is to deter people from seeking asylum in the U.S. Even so, that hasn’t happened. Illegal immigrants are so desperate to flee their countries, they are walking into this crisis as the lesser of two terrible evils.

On June 15, federal officials announced that 1,995 children have been separated from 1,940 adults at the border between April 19 and May 31. Parents were referred for prosecution.

Facts matter regarding the details of the new policy, especially as the White House and cabinet members like Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen cry “fake news.” It would be accurate to say the Trump administration has not explicitly crafted a policy calling for the separation of families entering the U.S. illegally. However,  zero tolerance has created the problem, because illegally crossing the border was previously handled as a civil offense. This allowed families to be detained together, but now, as the felonies are turning into criminal charges, parents are being taken into police custody while children are frequently sent to a Walmart-turned-detention center in Texas, which grows more crowded by the day, and other places around the country.

This is all indisputable fact. We as Americans have a responsibility to acknowledge this, politicians and officials.

We encourage anyone as troubled by this as we are to reach out to your houses of worship to see if they’re taking steps to aide those being affected. Who are looking after the safety and welfare of these children? Donate your time or money to one of the more than 10 rapid response networks aiding Long Island immigrants, or organizations like RAICES, a Texas-based nonprofit that provides legal defense for individuals in immigration court.

This is not our America, and this is not your America. This is not anyone’s America. We cannot remain silent. When government fails, it is up to us to stand up for one of America’s intrinsic values — freedom and the entitlement to basic human rights.

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