Willy Wonka and the Asylum Seekers

M2D Newsletter (6/13/18)

Good day, sir (and others). I said GOOD DAY!

And just like that, I’ve trapped myself into a Willy Wonka themed newsletter. Thank you to everyone who came to the live taping in New York! It was a lot of fun. There are golden tickets available to my next shows in Erie, Akron, and Boston

…unless of course, you’re an asylum-seeker. On Monday, Jeff Sessions overturned a ruling that victims of domestic abuse and gang violence qualify for asylum, a ruling affecting tens of thousands who arrive in the U.S. every year. Sessions assigned himself the case so that he could change legal precedent.

To remind you (spoiler alert), at the end of the book/movie, it turns out Willy Wonka was pretending to be a stickler for the rules to see if Jesse was good enough to take over running the factory.

(For anyone new to this mailing list, this is my friend Jesse. He asked to be Photoshopped into every newsletter. Totally his choice.)

Sadly, Sessions’ motives aren’t as well-intentioned. I picture him like Slugworth, if Slugworth wanted to steal secret candy recipes and use them to dismantle the entire U.S. asylum system.

A quick primer: Refugees are people who’ve fled their homes and are still in other countries, waiting for resettlement. Asylum seekers are people persecuted because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion” and already at a country’s doorstep seeking protection. It makes sense then that most asylum-seekers arrivingto the U.S. come from Latin America (for nowwwww).

Sessions ruled that domestic violence victims generally are not members of a “particular social group” and so don’t qualify for asylum. One might call that a, um, callous way to treat people fleeing for their lives. As one lawyer aptly summed, “Sessions thinks these women aren’t eligible for asylum because their husbands are only violent to them — not all women.”

A shot from the show in New York where I talk about Sessions and refugees.

I’ve spent dozens of hours researching Sessions and his perverted justifications for mistreating incredibly vulnerable people. Contrary to what his actions might imply, I don’t view him as evil.

Rather, I think he sees himself as being on a preordained mission to preserve his vision of what Americans are meant to look like (hint: it’s more Nilla Wafer than Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans… wait a sec, that’s Harry Potter), and he’ll do whatever he can to carry out that vision, including enforcing the fine print.

Of course, like Wonka, Sessions’ adoration for the rule of law is a farce. Unfortunately, only one of them is make-believe.

Best,
Ben