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Weekend Read: Ask Laura

President Trump took to the airwaves this week to denounce people he called “illegal aliens,” thousands of whom he said were “charged or convicted of assaults, sex crimes, and violent killings.”

Trump described a “humanitarian and security crisis at our Southern border.”

But we know the real crisis is one his administration has manufactured.

It’s a direct result of the president’s relentless war on asylum seekers, his administration’s heartless policy of separating families, and its arbitrary limit on the number of people who can be processed at ports of entry.

It’s a result of the president’s well-documented preference for fearmongering over the facts.

Just ask Laura Calderwood. Her daughter, Mollie, 20, was murdered this past summer, and an undocumented immigrant has been charged.

“Trump tried to make political hay out of Mollie’s death: On the day her body was found, he issued a statement containing some of the same anti-immigrant falsehoods that he repeated during his primetime address Tuesday night.

In fact, Trump did make political hay out of Mollie’s death: On the day her body was found, he issued a statement containing some of the same anti-immigrant falsehoodsthat he repeated during his primetime address Tuesday night.

Mollie’s parents, Laura and Rob, found his words abhorrent, as Terrence McCoy describes for The Washington Post:

He’d never called Laura, knew little about her daughter, but had no problem, Laura thought, using Mollie’s death to try to end immigration policies he now referred to as “pathetic.”

Laura hated the sound of Mollie’s name coming from his mouth. His words were the opposite of who Mollie was, advancing a “cause she vehemently opposed,” as her father, Rob Tibbetts, who’s separated from Laura, wrote in a newspaper column soon after her funeral.

The family’s dissent didn’t stop with rejecting Trump’s comments about their daughter.

Laura Calderwood is living her rebuttal: She has taken in a teen named Ulises. He is the son of two immigrants who were forced to flee the community as a direct result of Mollie’s death, when an anti-immigrant backlash drove out many who worked at the same farm as Mollie’s alleged killer.

Ulises, a friend of Mollie’s younger brother, Scott, wanted to finish his high school education, but when his parents decided they had to leave the community, he had nowhere to go. So Laura took him in — the son of farmworkers who had worked alongside the man who allegedly killed her daughter. Or: the friend of her youngest son, a boy who had grieved along with the family when Mollie was killed. A member of their community, no matter his parents’ immigration status.

Laura and her family are an example of how to address the very real immigration crisis that the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric have created. 

The nation is living through “an elemental battle over who gets to be an American,” as McCoy writes for The Washington Post. He asks:

Should any immigrant — regardless of race, religion, nationality or circumstance — have that chance? Or should it be reserved for the few who might more quickly assimilate into the American majority?

Ask Laura Calderwood.

The Editors

P.S. Here are some other pieces we think are valuable this week: 

SPLC’s Weekend Readings are a weekly summary of the most important news reporting and commentary from around the country on civil rights, economic and racial inequality, and hate and extremism. Sign up to receive Weekend Readings every Saturday morning.

Photo by Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press