It was supposed to be one of those rare, heartwarming moments in Washington: Two officials—one appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the other by President Donald Trump—sitting together on a panel, agreeing to agree. This week, the State Department convened its largest-ever gathering dedicated to human rights, the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Two members of the bipartisan United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Anurima Bhargava and Johnnie Moore, had come together to discuss the disturbing persecution of religious minorities around the world.
But amid the week’s roundtable discussions and lofty speeches about America’s dedication to defending unalienable rights worldwide, the reality of what’s been happening within U.S. borders was hard to ignore. The news has been filled with images of migrant children taken from their parents and denied access to soap, toothpaste, or beds; of migrant men detained in areas so crowded, they can’t lie down. At a Trump rally in North Carolina this week, attendees booed at mentions of Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who was born in Somalia and came to the U.S. as a refugee, and chanted “Send her back.” The Trump administration is reportedly considering a proposal to virtually shut down refugee admissions next year.