As the death toll in Gaza climbed with the Israeli military killing unarmed Palestinian protesters this week, a tweet from right-wing troll Ann Coulter highlighted the parallel between the indifference of many in the U.S. political establishment to the suffering of people in Gaza, and the disdain that anti-immigrant zealots, including those in the Trump administration, show for Central American asylum seekers at the U.S-Mexico border.
Responding to a report of Israel’s killing of Palestinians along the Gaza border on Monday, Coulter asked, “Can we do that?” in an obvious reference to migrants who have attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.
Coulter’s remark came as the Israeli military was firing live ammunition and tear gas at mass demonstrations by Palestinians, killing at least 60 people, including an eight-month old baby, while members of the Trump administration celebrated the official move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
Of course, Coulter’s question was immediately denounced on social media:
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It’s not the first time Coulter has suggested murdering migrants or refugees attempting to cross the U.S. border. In a radio interview last month, she said, “If you shoot one to encourage the others, maybe they’ll learn.”
Her comments come as the Trump administration’s hostility towards people seeking asylum in the U.S. after traveling from Central America continues to intensify, with human rights groups decrying the government’s portrayal of immigrants as criminals and condemning Trump’s lack of humanity and decency.
“Threatening to indefinitely detain, prosecute, and deport these asylum seekers is a cruel effort to stigmatize, terrify and push away traumatized people, many of whom have already given up everything to flee desperate circumstances in their home countries,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, last month as a caravan of Central American refugees approached the southern border.
The Trump administration recently announced it would separate parents from children upon apprehending families at the border, and prosecute parents for attempting to bring their children into the country. Immigrants in detention centers have also been subjected to inhumane treatment, according to a federal investigation, with insufficient medical and hygiene care and potentially unsafe food.
The armed agents who patrol the southern U.S. border have also “weaponized” the hostile terrain of the Southwest, according to the advocacy group No More Deaths, chasing people into the desert and turning the area into a “vast graveyard of the missing” where thousands have disappeared and died.
Though distinct in serious and crucial ways, the portrayal of immigrants as criminals and a threat to be met with deadly force mirrors the Israeli government’s dehumanization of Palestinians as it maintains its occupation of the West Bank and the military-imposed blockade of the Gaza Strip.
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