A favorite target of Trump defenders is the presumably nefarious “deep state”–the thousands of government workers that sane folks call bureaucrats (when they are being critical) or civil servants (when they are acknowledging their importance).
I teach in a school of public affairs, where a major focus is educating young people for that quaint thing we used to call public service. In addition to technical skills, we place considerable emphasis upon what I sometimes call the “constitutional ethic” and the rule of law–the behaviors citizens have a right to demand from those who serve a legitimate government.
It is belaboring the obvious to note that the Trump Administration doesn’t recognize the existence of ethics–constitutional or otherwise. However, many good people who do know the difference between right and wrong still work in that “deep state” that Republicans love to excoriate, and a group of them are suing to avoid having to carry out Trump’s inhumane border policies that. force asylum seekers to stay in Mexico or be put in jail here while awaiting hearings.
A group of asylum officers whose job is to administer policies like that have filed a brief in the case making a powerful and passionate case against a policy that they have to implement but they find morally unconscionable.
U.S. asylum officers slammed President Trump’s policy of forcing migrants to remain in Mexico while they await immigration hearings in the United States, urging a federal appeals court Wednesday to block the administration from continuing the program. The officers, who are directed to implement the policy, said it is threatening migrants’ lives and is “fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation.”…
The lawsuit asserts that Trump’s policy goes against what has been America’s long-standing view that the country should welcome asylum seekers and refugees escaping persecution in their home countries. The United States has been seen as a safe haven ever since the arrival of the Pilgrims in the 17th century. In the court pleadings, plaintiffs argue that Trump’s policy “is compelling sworn officers to participate in the widespread violation of international and federal law” — “something that they did not sign up to do when they decided to become asylum and refugee officers for the United States government.”
“Asylum officers are duty bound to protect vulnerable asylum seekers from persecution,” the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, which represents 2,500 federal workers, including asylum officers, said in a 37-page court filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in California. “They should not be forced to honor departmental directives that are fundamentally contrary to the moral fabric of our Nation and our international and domestic legal obligations.”
When Donald Trump became President (note I do not say “was elected” since I agree with Jimmy Carter), I had several messages from former students now working for the federal government. They were conflicted–should they stay, and try to protect the public interest, or leave for jobs in the private or non-profit sectors?
As I told each of them, that was a decision only they could make.
Those who decided to remain, however, stayed because they were determined to protect the rule of law and the integrity of public service at a time when those in power–and those supporting this lawless administration–sneer at such “high flown” concepts.
If the United States emerges from this shameful, corrupt and profoundly un-American episode in our national story, we will owe those “deep state” protectors of our ideals an enormous debt of gratitude.