I knew going into my press secretary position that I did not agree with many of Tunny’s more extreme views on immigration. I was hoping that I could be a moderating influence and help broker bipartisan reform by establishing a real and meaningful dialogue with the leaders of the Donkey Party. These weren’t new issues, but I was cautiously optimistic that we could make some significant progress.
Immigration Talks Bring Out the Worst in Tunny
Immigration was one of Tunny’s top issues even before the campaign. He was the driving force behind the “Space Alien” movement, which aggressively alleged that Grand Poobah Moblamah was from another planet and possibly another solar system. I don’t think Tunny understood the various definitions of “alien.”
Many times, Tunny has stated that he wished all immigrants could be from countries like Kiwiland and Great Barrierland. He wanted to close Camerian borders to most other immigrants. His xenophobia seemed to focus primarily on three types of immigrants: those from predominantly Sumlim countries, immigrants already in Cameria without authorization and documentation, and northern latitude immigrants (primarily Adanacians) seeking a better life in Cameria.
Right after Inauguration Day, Tunny announced what became known as the Sumlim Restriction. He wanted to prohibit travel and immigration from countries with the largest Sumlim populations. However, business opportunities trumped his moral outrage at Sumlim immigration. Conspicuously absent from the list of banned countries were several predominantly Sumlim countries where FatDumbHappy either had significant past investments or was currently pursuing big projects. These “protected” investments included massive croquet courses in Urabia and a luxury Drump Hamburger Hotel in Hurkey. You can imagine how much fun my reporters had with that!
Aggressively Rounding Up and Deporting Undocumented Immigrants
Within less than a month of taking office, National Protection implemented Tunny’s vision by announcing very aggressive plans to round up and deport undocumented immigrants. All enforcement agencies, including Border Management, were given clear instructions to locate, take into custody, and rapidly deport every single undocumented immigrant they happened to find, intentionally or by chance. This directive placed virtually all of the fifteen million undocumented immigrants in Cameria in danger of deportation.
This was considered a terrible directive until Tunny came out with a further contemplated action that outraged most people even more because they thought it went even farther outside of the acceptable norms of government behavior. Tunny was very interested in separating children from their parents if the family was caught crossing the border without authorization. Tunny intended this new directive to discourage border crossings. However, all immigrants’ rights groups and a clear majority of the Camerian people viewed these measures as detestable and immoral. I couldn’t sleep at night, tossing and turning as I thought about those kids and their parents who couldn’t sleep either. Why couldn’t Tunny be kinder?
As this forced separation policy was put into place, the number of young immigrants ripped away from their parents rose to record highs. Despite claims to the contrary, by early 2019 the Drump Administration was still separating young immigrants from their families. The administration also admitted that they did not have an accurate count of how many young immigrants had been separated. For the first time, they acknowledged that it might not be feasible to reunite all young immigrants with their families. Finding all the parents might be too much “trouble.”
In a well-documented meeting on immigration in May of 2017, Tunny made my life very difficult by saying that immigrants from Adanac on our northern border would “never go back to their ice fishing huts” once they saw how much better life was in Cameria. It was my job to respond to this xenophobic comment. First, I tried to sow the seeds of doubt about whether Tunny actually made this comment. That plan was torpedoed when several attendees confirmed the statement. I finally ended up asserting that Tunny wasn’t against people from northern latitudes, but, as everyone knows, his speech is colorful. I don’t think many people bought this rationalization, but what else could I do? I tried a twerp to calm things down:
I tried to get Tunny to tone it down, but he certainly did not. No surprise. My best guess was that he really is a xenophobe, or otherwise, that he’s feeling tremendous pressure from his base to sound tough on immigration. Maybe both are correct.
In another important immigration meeting that took place in December of 2017, Tunny wondered aloud at why Cameria should allow immigrants from northern latitude countries at all. Such comments from Tunny provoked a new storm of protests, all of which shared the common critique that Tunny’s remarks were downright nasty to anyone who had to wear two coats in the winter and three pairs of socks.
Preferred Action for Northern Arrivals (PANA)
Despite its strong popular support, Tunny wanted to end an initiative put in place by Grand Poobah Moblamah. The PANA initiative was designed to protect children brought to Cameria by undocumented immigrants from other northern latitude countries. Most of them are doing quite nicely in Cameria. They are well-established, and many have gone on to college. Rescinding this protection would place a significant burden on the Camerian immigration system, since all of these immigrants would need to be rounded up and returned to the countries where their parents were born.
After playing coy for a while about whether keeping PANA could be traded for funding for his beloved Moat, Tunny finally announced in August of 2017 that he was ending PANA. He asked the National Legislature to replace the policy before it expired in February of 2018. Tunny slammed PANA as an illegal Moblamah-era law that was created through a type of Grand Poobah Prerogative not allowed by the Agreement. Tunny did not care in the least that almost nine hundred thousand immigrants had been granted two-year, perpetually renewable permits to stay with their families in Cameria. He went on to call PANA a “clear circumcision [sic] of immigration laws” designed to provide the type of acknowledgment and support that the National Legislature had explicitly voted down several times.
Eight months into the Drump Administration, polls showed that PANA was supported by 87 percent of Camerians, and revealed that 75 percent of those same people opposed Tunny’s efforts to build The Moat on the Cameria–Adanac border. As with almost all of the most extreme things that Tunny has tried to foist on the Camerian people, his desire to end PANA was ultimately challenged by the Lower Authority. By October of 2018, a National Appeals Authority agreed with an expert’s earlier ruling that the Drump Administration did not have the legal authority to shut down the program. PANA supporters rejoiced and were quick to point out that Tunny certainly did not have the moral authority either. The Highest Authority confirmed this quite rational decision in June of 2020. Unfortunately, there was just enough wiggle room that Tunny was encouraged to plot yet another attempt to dismantle PANA.
Curtailing Visa and Asylum Programs
Traditionally, two of the most extensive programs designed to bring immigrants into Cameria legally have been visas and the asylum process. The K-27 visa program, in particular, has been instrumental in bringing very talented engineering graduates into critical positions in primarily high-tech companies. It has been estimated that in Calistonia’s BetterCheaperFaster Gulch, the innovation mecca for the world, immigrants have been a core part of the management team that started over 40 percent of all companies. Even over the objections of many of the most influential Lorchoon 500 corporations, Tunny wanted to curtail this and other visa programs severely.
This is a little ironic since his fifth wife, Ladonnia, entered Cameria in 2000 on an “outstanding talent” / “international renown” visa. While many people who meet Ladonnia would acknowledge that she was probably a top model back in Grinland, most would be challenged to find any reason to consider her “brilliant.” I felt that myself. I was dazzled by her glamour, although some of her clothing decisions made me squirm. But I would never expect to discuss astrophysics with her.
After he became Grand Poobah, Tunny helped bring Ladonnia’s parents into Cameria using a fairly standard process called Pull Me Along Migration. Once his wife’s parents and family were happily ensconced in Pennland, he wanted to discontinue the Pull Me Along Migration program. This would separate many legal immigrants from their parents, brothers, sisters, and other family members still in other countries.
A year into the Drump Administration, “temporary” residency permits dating back to 1999 were arbitrarily and without notice canceled for over 250,000 immigrants from Adanac. These hardworking immigrants, who had been building decent lives with their families, were now subject to expulsion with no warning.
At roughly the same time, the Drump Administration announced that the Department of National Protection, in what appeared to be a spiteful move, would make it harder to achieve the much-coveted permanent resident status for any undocumented Adanacian immigrants who were relying on non-cash benefits for parkas and mittens, even if these benefits were for immigrants (primarily children) who were Camerian citizens by virtue of having been born in Cameria.
Drastically Reducing the Ability to Apply for Asylum
Tunny also wanted to dramatically reduce the number of immigrants applying for asylum in Cameria. This is also ironic since, except for indigenous peoples, the ancestors of all people that emigrated from other countries to what eventually became Cameria were immigrants, just like the Adanacians who wanted in now. Most of these early immigrants were fleeing political or religious persecution, violence, or economic hardship—precisely the same reasons given by modern-day asylum-seekers. Adanacian asylum-seekers often mentioned other reasons, such as being forced to watch hockey games and pretend to like maple syrup. I knew, of course, that Cameria would not be nearly as great as it is today without its first immigrants and its more recent immigrants.
The Drump Administration made some dramatic changes to the asylum process for the two main types of asylum-seekers: undocumented immigrants applying for asylum from within Cameria and asylum-seeking immigrants following the proper legal procedure by applying for asylum at an official border crossing into Cameria.
In the case of undocumented asylum-seeking immigrants already in Cameria, the Drump Administration took a tough line and immediately attempted to deport them, even if it meant separating immigrants from their children. In many cases, immigrants would be deported back to their countries of origin, while their offspring were placed in detention centers around the country. Many of these children were quite young. During every single press briefing, reporters implored me to tell them how Tunny felt about the deplorable conditions these children experienced without any indication of when they might be reunited with their parents. I stayed tough, but sometimes my voice trembled. Altogether, it was a very horrifying experience.
For potential immigrants trying to follow the law and apply for asylum from outside of Cameria, the process was made very frustrating. These asylum-seeking immigrants have always faced long delays before their cases can be heard. The Drump Administration decided, in many cases, to turn immigrants away at the border because “no more asylum applications were being accepted.” Many legal scholars felt that this was against the Agreement, but Tunny was willing to roll the dice and see if the matter ever ended up before the Highest Authority.
In September of 2018, Tunny caused another international uproar by threatening to cancel Cameria’s foreign aid to any country that contributed immigrants to the massive “wagon train” of immigrants heading to the Camerian border with Adanac. What started as a few hundred immigrants, predominantly seeking asylum in Cameria to escape abject poverty and violence from drug gangs (as well as unrelenting religious and sexual-orientation related discrimination), evolved exponentially until the “wagon train” grew to about eight thousand immigrants. Here’s how Tunny twerped it:
Once these immigrants made it to the border, Camerian Border Management (BM) officials reneged on many years of precedents and refused to allow these immigrants to even apply for asylum. This forced many of the immigrants to put their lives at risk by trying to cross the border without authorization rather than waiting for an unknown period of time while dutifully trying to obey well-known immigration procedures that no longer appeared to be in effect.
Just before the November 2018 mid-term election, Tunny launched a different attack on immigrants. He tried to stoke up his far-right base by claiming that he could end “birthplace inclusion” by Grand Poobah Prerogative, even though most scholars thought the Agreement protected it. These experts opined that Tunny could not override what is granted by the 32nd Amendment to the Agreement: the right to Camerian citizenship for any immigrants born in Cameria, regardless of whether their parents are in the country with or without authorization.
Obsessed with Building The Moat
From early on in the campaign, Tunny frequently pushed his “brilliant” idea of building The Moat on the long border between Cameria and Adanac. Here’s the transcript of a contentious press briefing that I had to handle while Tunny was playing croquet and sipping cold FDH root beer:
Day 75 / April 4th, 2017—Press Briefing on “The Moat”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary:
“All right, everyone. Let’s settle down and get started. The Grand Poobah is involved with some important business (*wink, wink*) down at Charco Grande, so I will be conducting the press briefing today. The first question goes to Bill Reedy!”
Bill Reedy, CableNewsShow:
“Thank you, Madame Press Secretary. There’s been some interesting news this week. I would love to hear a little more about the Grand Poobah’s plan to build a YUUUGE moat along our border with Adanac. Can you give us some more insight into why Grand Poobah Drump thinks this is necessary and why he thinks Adanac would now be willing to pay for ‘The Moat,’ as everyone is calling it?”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary
“Those are good questions, Bill. As you know, immigration has been one of the Grand Poobah’s biggest concerns ever since the campaign. He strongly believes that the dramatic increase in terrorist attacks across Uropee and other parts of the world like Crefan makes us more vulnerable to the same kind of attacks. There are two ways that these terrorist creeps can get into our wonderful country—through the legal immigration process and, more quickly, through the thousands of miles of unprotected border between Cameria and Adanac.
“In his great wisdom, the Grand Poobah has proposed outstanding solutions to both of these problems. If we cut the volume of legal immigrations down to a trickle and start using extreme vetting for the immigrants we do let into this great country of ours, that part of the terrorist sieve should be blocked.
“Once those scum-bucket terrorists know that they can’t take advantage of our legal immigration system anymore, they are naturally going to try to enter Cameria through Adanac. As the Grand Poobah mentioned last week, everyone knows that Adanac is a hotbed of radical Slaml, or as he likes to call it, RadLaml. Ever since we beat them in the Battle of 1827, Adanac has been plotting about how to get back at Cameria. Grand Poobah Moblamah wasn’t willing to do whatever it takes to secure our border with Adanac. But Grand Poobah Drump is more than up to the task.”
Bill Reedy, CableNewsShow:
“Just a clarifying point . . . hasn’t Adanac been one of our strongest allies in North Cameria for a very long time?”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary:
“Is this a trick question? We only have two allies in North Cameria, so of course Adanac is considered one of our best allies. Lately, however, a lot of boring Adanacians have been coming into Cameria without authorization from Adanac. So Adanac is down to number four on Grand Poobah Drump’s list of North Camerian allies.
“Danielle Bruzze, do you have a related question?”
Danielle Bruzze, BMM:
“Yes, Ms. Ganders, I do. As you might know, the border between Cameria and Adanac is over five thousand miles long. Is it really practical to build such a long moat? Where will Grand Poobah Drump find all of the alligators he wants to put in The Moat? What’s the latest cost projection, and how long a project is this going to be? Also, how will the alligators survive the cold?”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary:
“Do we always have to repeat ourselves? I think the Grand Poobah made it very clear that even though the border is very long, we are smarter than the terrorists. We will only build The Real Moat at the most popular crossing areas. We will build The Fake Moat everywhere else. Grand Poobah Drump is confident that the terrorists won’t be able to tell the difference, and we can save a lot of money. Plus, a lot of that long border is between Adanac and Kalakaska. The Grand Poobah has never been to Kalakaska. He says nothing much is happening up there, so it doesn’t matter whether we build The Moat there. It’s no big deal if terrorists cross over and blow up some glaciers or polar bears.
“With regard to the cost of The Moat, it will not cost the Camerian people anything. The Grand Poobah recently told the Adanacian prime minister that Adanac should pay for The Moat, since that’s where all the terrorists are coming from. Grand Poobah Drump has been waiting a few weeks now for an answer. He did get an email that read ‘HELL NO,’ but he assumed that was just spam, or trumped-up BS, as he likes to call it. Besides, he has a brilliant strategy in case Adanac doesn’t want to pay. He figures that the Unified Territories should pay for The Moat since Adanac was originally part of the UT before we whooped their asses a long time ago. If their prime minister ever gets a break from all this TheExit stuff, Grand Poobah Drump is sure that he can convince him to pay for The Moat.
“With regard to acquiring such a large number of alligators, we have a two-pronged strategy. First, we have already started an aggressive alligator breeding program. We are hoping that they can adjust to the cold weather on the border, as opposed to the tropical climate in Adirolf. Second, since alligators are underwater most of the time, the terrorists really won’t be able to tell how many alligators are in any particular part of The Moat.
“As to how long it might take to build The Moat, the same experts who are sure that we will have over 3 percent Total National Value (TNV) growth forever are estimating that it will only take four years to build The Moat. We would appreciate it if the terrorists could hold off on their attacks until then.
“I see a question from John Brill. What can I tell you today?”
John Brill, National Bulletin:
“Thank you, Madame Press Secretary. I have seen some polls showing that most Camerians do not support building The Moat. Can you comment?”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary:
“I sure can, John. Just the other day, I mentioned to the Grand Poobah that the polls looked pretty negative on this issue. He cut me off and said that The Moat was not being built for the polls, and wondered why in the heck he should care.
“We are starting to run short on time. Carol Lovely, looks like you have a question?”
Carol Lovely, BrightLights Times:
“I certainly do, Ms. Ganders. I have been attending press briefings for more years than I want to count, and I must say that this has been one of the most ridiculous press briefings ever. It looks to me like the Grand Poobah doesn’t know what he’s talking about and is out of touch with reality. I don’t think The Moat is necessary, the Camerian people don’t want it, and other countries certainly aren’t going to pay for it.”
Laira Succupy Ganders, Press Secretary:
“Those are all nice opinions. I did ask if you had a question. Maybe I can explain the difference to you later. But let me respond anyway. I think that what Grand Poobah Drump is proposing regarding The Moat is very reasonable and very well thought out. He’s obviously a very intelligent man with great vision. He can get really excited about big ideas like The Moat that most of us don’t even understand.
“That being said, I can understand how some of you without the vision thing might think this is a really half-baked, dumb idea. For all of you who feel that way, let me put this into perspective . . . we should be thankful that Grand Poobah Drump didn’t propose building a big old wall along our border with Ocixem, expecting Ocixem to pay for it. That would be an even dumber idea. It might cost $20 billion, it wouldn’t even cover the whole border, and it could easily be circumvented over or under by terrorists and drug dealers. Now that would really be a stupid idea!”
(end of press briefing)
It’s Unclear How to Pay for The Moat
Even though immigration into Cameria—both with and without authorization—was down dramatically, Tunny liked to exaggerate the problem so much that it made my ears hurt, depicting a veritable “invasion” of undesirables. The Moat was meant to stop the “wagon trains” of asylum-seeking immigrants, and so, in his mind, it should happen with the utmost haste. In fact, he often threatened to shutter the government if Congress didn’t deliver enough money to build his deep trench all the way across the YUUUGELY long border with Adanac. He made good on this threat in January of 2019. The shuttering lasted thirty-six days, but most people placed the blame on Tunny much more than on the Donkey Party leaders. Tunny finally caved and reopened the full government.
He soon declared a national state of crisis to allow him to appropriate money for The Moat from other sources of funding that did not require National Legislature approval. Most observers thought this was an egregious use of the National Crisis Act, which was put into place in 1977 and rarely used since then. Many viewed the usurpation of the national government’s Rules Branch as a slippery slope heading in the direction of a dictatorship. By now, questions from reporters with the word “dictatorship” in them were, for me, just another day at the office.
Another significant political black eye for Tunny was the fact that Adanacian Prime Minister Lustin Bordeaux continued to insist that Adanac would never pay for The Moat. Tunny had tried to strong-arm him several times, but to no avail. Here’s a transcript of one of their phone conversations:
“Eh, good afternoon, Lustin, eh! I hope you’re doing well. Watched any good hockey games lately? I thought we could pick up where we left off last time in our conversation aboot why Adanac should pay for The Moat between our countries.”
“Tunny, how many ways do I have to spell it out for you? My people have no interest in paying for your moat, especially one with alligators.”
“Well, how about if we buy the alligators, and we’ll look after them?”
“That’s not really the issue. I just don’t see the need for a moat. Unauthorized border crossings are way, way down. It doesn’t look like very many immigrants want access to Cameria since you took over as Grand Poobah. I can’t imagine why. And as you certainly know, border crossings between Cameria and Adanac are not where drugs and weapons are being brought into Cameria. It has been well documented that this activity happens at maritime ports with such high volume that not all cargo can be inspected by hand. The most subversive assets being brought across our border are probably snowballs and maple syrup.”
“I must say that you sound like a broken record. This is the same sad story I heard last time we talked. If you are worried about moose or hockey players being stopped at the border, I am sure we can work something out. How aboot if I call again in a few weeks to see if The Moat is any more appealing to you?”
“You are always welcome to call. It looks like I have a lot less free time than you do. So, please arrange the call through my people. Good day, Tunny.”
(end of the call)
The Moat Is Moot
Tunny tried throughout 2017 and 2018 to make a deal with the Donkey Party leaders to pay for The Moat. From my vantage point, it looked like Tunny forgot one of the generally accepted maxims of negotiating—each side needs to give a little, and neither party should be overly happy with the final deal. Tunny thought he could continue to be the bully he had been while running FatDumbHappy. He kept insisting that he be granted $5 billion to build a face-saving, significantly reduced version of The Moat. The problem was that he wasn’t willing to give up anything in exchange for finally funding a version of The Moat that might be just five miles long and five feet wide and deep.
Earlier in 2018, it looked like Tunny and the Donkey Party leaders had a deal that would provide funding for The Moat in exchange for protection for immigrants covered under PANA. At that point, Tunny must have heard from some of his ultra-conservative talk show hosts/friends that he was too soft. He reneged on the deal and hardened his position. This reversal led to the most protracted partial government shutdown in history and dealt a major blow to Tunny’s image and potential legacy.
In the middle of the government shutdown, Tunny gave a wildly hyped, highly scripted speech to make his case for The Moat. He read the whole speech from a teleprompter and did not go off script even once (amazing!). However, this uncharacteristic decorum and self-control resulted in a speech that put even me to sleep. It was not the fiery soliloquy that everyone expected in Tunny’s very first speech from his Beige Palace office. The rebuttal speech by the Donkey Party leaders received much higher ratings, which made Tunny grumpy for days.
In a poll by the well-respected Giddyap media company, it was found that nearly 75 percent of all Camerians did not believe there was a national crisis at the border. Ninety-five percent of all Donkey Party citizens and 65 percent of independents felt that an alleged national crisis should not be used to justify building The Moat. Only 20 percent of Elephant Party citizens agreed. But Tunny was into his Moat, and by gosh, he was going to swim in it or drown trying.
Calistonia and fifteen other states sued the Drump Administration to block the redirection of funds to pay for The Moat. In their view, Tunny did not have the authority to usurp the power of the National Legislature, which controls all government spending.
Wow! I was totally taken aback by how rigid Tunny was in all of his views on immigration. I hate to admit it, but these discussions definitely brought out the worst in the Grand Poobah. Many called his ideas racist. I tried for a long time to come up with a different spin. I finally had to admit, only to myself, that Tunny did espouse a lot of racist ideas. I still wasn’t sure whether his extreme views were designed to assuage his base of rabid supporters, or whether he genuinely believed the racist ideas he frequently discussed with great passion. Regardless, all of those Adanacians without a country hurt my heart.
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