With a little over a week until the presidential election, John Oliver went deep on immigration, a signature issue for the Trump administration.
Going beyond the headlines about “kids in cages” and “s***hole countries,” Oliver detailed the administration’s record on asylum, and why it deserves just as much attention as Trump’s family separation policy.
Oliver began by explaining why asylum seekers are a group “everyone should be able to support,” detailing some of the life-threatening situations faced by those fleeing their home countries. Oliver contrasted that by playing clips of Trump calling the asylum program “a scam” and its applicants “some of the roughest people you’ve ever seen.”
To illustrate his point, Oliver shared the story of Berta, a Honduran woman applying for asylum because MS-13 gang members threatened to set her on fire after she refused to give away her 12-year-old granddaughter as a child bride. She came to an American port of entry and began the legal process of applying for asylum, but was immediately separated from her granddaughter and detained for nearly two years. (At the end of the show, Oliver showed a clip of Berta being told she would be sent back to Honduras.)
The story of Berta is a single data point of a broad set of policies designed to eliminate as many asylum cases as possible, Oliver said, even when those asylum-seekers face near-certain death upon return to their home country. The administration’s methods have included designing prison-like “asylum camps” in Mexico where applicants are held indefinitely in substandard conditions; creating “safe country” agreements with El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, which leads to asylum-seekers being sent to countries with governments ill-prepared to help them; and using executive powers guaranteed by Title 42″ during a health crisis to send close to 200,000 asylum seekers back to their own countries since March.
The Trump administration, Oliver concluded, has created “a shadow deportation system that moves quickly and is accountable to no one.”
Oliver concluded the segment by telling viewers to vote for Joe Biden, even while acknowledging that the former vice president’s immigration platform isn’t perfect and that the Obama administration’s record on immigration was also troubling.
“Obviously, Biden will have to do a lot more, and we will have to hold him to the promises he’s made,” Oliver noted. “But we can’t begin to fix the damage done by this administration until we replace the administration itself. If we even want a shot at change, it is on us to vote and then advocate like lives depend on it.”
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