If the Trump administration can show such disregard for society’s most vulnerable people, what does that mean for clean water, endangered species and other environmental issues?

chain-link fence

The media images from the past few weeks have horrified us.

Children being torn from their grieving parents’ arms, locked in warehouses, abused and neglected, left crying and alone for the first time in their lives.

Such brutal actions showcase the stark indifference of President Trump, his administration, his cronies and his supporters when it comes to basic humanity. They don’t appear to care about individuals or families, and sometimes it looks as if they don’t care about anyone but themselves. Trump even announced this week that the U.S. would pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which in itself sends a pretty clear message. And Trump’s midweek executive order ending the policy of family separations does nothing to solve the problems he’s already created. He has shown no signs that he will take steps to reunite families, let alone that he feels any remorse for his administration’s actions.

In the light of Trump’s public display of inhumanity — this shameful neglect of the people most in need of support and help — it becomes increasingly obvious that the administration and its supporters pose a threat not just to immigrant children, but to everyone on the planet.

After all, if someone can order a child to be ripped away from its crying mother and locked behind a metal chain-link fence, then they also likely have the disposition to pollute a river, build a fracking operation near a school, bulldoze habitat for an endangered species, allow a species to go extinct, prioritize the burning of planet-warming fossil fuels to enrich their cronies, and so much more.

Want proof that the planet is in peril from the same people perpetrating these civil-rights violations? Just look at the threads running through the actions the Trump administration has taken since these immigrant internment camps came to light. In the past week alone, they’ve rescinded protections for oceans and the Great Lakes; sold mining rights on land once part of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; launched a plan to weaken greater sage grouse protections; moved to block chemical-disaster safety rules; backed a plan to lift restrictions on 800,000 acres of public lands in Montana, including key wilderness areas; passed the latest Farm Bill in the House, which would roll back pesticide restrictions that protect endangered species; and initiated a process to make sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, which governs how all federal agencies analyze their environmental impacts.

These and other actions form an ever-growing quilt of industry-friendly decisions that will hurt people, wildlife and the environment we all live in for decades — and they happened while we were (quite rightly) focused on the border and angry about the seizure of immigrant children.

And sadly, not one of these actions received much media attention.

That’s exactly the way administration wants it. Presidential advisor Stephen Miller, architect of the immigration policy, has said that he feels voters will see immigration as the only topic worth voting on, and that the anger and fear Trump has stoked will drive more wins for his team. That will just leave the administration with even more power to target additional environmental regulations and protections that hold back corporate profits — and to make the world a dirtier, sicker, less natural place.

Because after all, if you can take children away from the most vulnerable parents in the world, what’s to stop you from taking away everything else?

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.

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