On Wednesday, a coalition of leftist groups sent an open letter to college and university leaders demanding that they formally blacklist any Trump administration officials involved in the demonized “family separation” policy. The pressure groups also released full-page ads in campus newspapers, including The Harvard Crimson, The Stanford Daily, and the University of Virginia’s The Cavalier Daily.
“America’s college and university leaders have a moral responsibility to make it clear that the administration officials responsible for this horrific policy will not be allowed to seek refuge in their classrooms, lecture halls, or auditoriums,” Karl Frisch, spokesperson for Restore Public Trust, declared in a statement. “Disgraced former officials should not be offered cushy fellowships to rehabilitate their image or be given space to explain to students why they were only ‘doing their jobs.’”
The pressure campaign included an open letter to colleges and universities, pushing the fake news that “children were torn away from their parents and placed in cages.” Photos purporting to reveal the Trump administration’s policy of placing children in cages actually came from a protest against the Trump administration, and from 2014 under the Obama administration. “Restore Public Trust” is indeed an Orwellian name for an organization peddling fake news in order to demonize American public servants.
“An image other administrations would have avoided at all costs, but one that the Trump administration hoped would send a message to migrant families heading north for asylum: if you come here, this could happen to you,” the Restore Public Trust letter declares.
The letter slams Trump administration officials for “negligence” that damaged children. “Because of their negligence, children have been physically abused. Because of their negligence, children have been sexually assaulted. Because of their negligence, children have died,” the letter declares.
The letter includes a list of administration officials who “played a role, many helping craft, implement, and defend this heinous policy.”
“Some of these individuals have left the administration in recent months, many now trying to distance themselves from the horrible policy in a vain attempt to rehabilitate their reputations,” Restore Public Trust warned. “Regardless of when they leave, they should not be allowed to seek refuge in your classrooms, lecture halls, or auditoriums. Allowing them to step off of the revolving door and into the welcoming arms of academia should be a nonstarter.”
Referencing college codes of conduct, the letter urges, “We call on you to abide by the highest ethical, moral and academic standards and make it clear that your college or university will not hire or bestow a fellowship or other honor to anyone involved in the development, implementation, or defense of the Trump administration’s family separation immigration policy.”
“Family separation” refers to the practice of not detaining children when their parents or guardians are prosecuted for crossing the border illegally. This happened under the Obama administration, but ramped up when Trump issued a zero-tolerance policy in order to deter illegal crossings.
Critics can disagree with the policy without demonizing Trump administration officials the way this pressure campaign does. Indeed, the campaign goes so far as to list officials by name, putting those names on full-page ads in college newspapers.
Here is a full-page ad @RestoreTrustOrg put in the @Harvard @thecrimson, demonizing Trump administration officials by name. This pressure campaign enjoys the support of the SPLC, American Bridge, and more. pic.twitter.com/yWOhW8WP9e
— Tyler O'Neil (@Tyler2ONeil) May 2, 2019
In April, after Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned, Restore Public Trust launched a similar campaign aimed at Fortune 500 CEOs, urging them to blacklist every official involved in the “family separation” policy.
Both pressure campaigns targeted the same officials:
● Matthew Albence, executive associate director, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
● Nathalie Asher, acting executive associate director, ICE Operations
● Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services
● Matthew Bassett, assistant secretary for legislation, HHS
● Rachel Brand, former associate attorney general
● Joseph Edlow, deputy attorney general, DOJ
● Eric Hargan, deputy secretary, HHS
● Gene Hamilton, counselor to attorney general, DOJ
● Jonathan Hayes, office of refugee resettlement, HHS
● Thomas Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
● Sarah Huckabee Sanders, press secretary
● Sarah Isgur Flores, former spokesperson, DOJ
● Lynn A. Johnson, assistant secretary for family support, HHS
● John Kelly, former White House chief of staff and secretary of Homeland Security
● Kathy Kraninger, former associate director for government programs, OMB
● Scott Lloyd, former director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement
● Kevin McAleenan, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
● James McHenry, director of Office of Immigration Review, DOJ
● Stephen Miller, senior advisor to the president
● Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of Homeland Security
● Carla Provost, chief of U.S. Border Patrol
● Jeff Sessions, former U.S. attorney general
● Judy Stecker, assistant secretary for public affairs, HHS
● Jallyn Sualog, deputy director of the office of refugee resettlement, HHS
● Ronald Vitiello, acting director of immigration and customs enforcement
● Steven Wagner, principal deputy assistant secretary for administration for children and families, HHS
● Maggie Wynne, counselor for human services policy, HHS
The Restore Public Trust coalition includes a broad swath of leftist groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which accuses mainstream conservative and Christian groups of being “hate groups” on par with the Ku Klux Klan. The coalition claims to represent “hundreds of thousands of Americans.
It publicly names 38 different groups: Restore Public Trust, Allied Progress, America’s Voice, American Bridge, Bridges Faith Initiative, CASA In Action, Center For Popular Democracy, Equity Forward, Faith in Public Life, Jobs With Justice, Main Street Alliance, MomsRising, National Immigration Law Center, Southern Poverty Law Center, Workers Defense Project, California Reinvestment Coalition, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights – CHIRLA, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Make the Road New York, AMEXCAN, North Carolina Justice Center, Raleigh Immigration, InterReligious Task Force On Central America and Colombia, Ohio Immigrant Alliance, Transformations CDC, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, American Gateways, Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, Fuerza Del Valle, La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), Mexican American Legislative Caucus, Proyecto Azteca, RAICES, Texas Civil Rights Project, Workers Defense Project, Youth Rise Texas, OneAmerica.
Restore Public Trust claims to be a “non-partisan public interest group,” but its campaigns are solely directed against Republicans and the Trump administration, according to Influence Watch. Its board of advisors consists of Democratic strategists, operatives, political consultants, and former Obama officials.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.