Migrants are gathered inside the fence of a makeshift detention center in El Paso on March 27. (Sergio Flores for The Washington Post)
Opinion writer

The Post reports, “U.S. immigration and health authorities, facing what they say is a financial and logistical crush, have scrambled to move hundreds of migrant children out of an overcrowded Border Patrol station after lawyers who visited the facility last week described scenes of sick and dirty children without their parents, and inconsolable toddlers in the care of other children.” Nevertheless, “the agency had to return 100 children to the station [in Clint, Tex.,] Tuesday because of a lack of bed space in U.S. shelters and insufficient funding to expand facilities for children.”

President Trump as usual refuses to accept responsibility for his administration’s ineptness and cruelty. He insists the Obama administration was the one to start separating children from their families. But, once more, the Obama administration did not create a zero-tolerance policy that resulted in the detention of thousands of children, a situation the administration has never sufficiently prepared for.

Trump also blames Congress for the intolerable conditions. However, cumulative months have been spent on a government shutdown, snatching money from defense to build a useless wall, threatening Mexico with tariffs (and then negotiating a largely empty deal), slashing aid to Central American countries from which the migrants are fleeing, threatening raids on noncriminal illegal immigrants and cooking up plans to ship the asylum seekers elsewhere. Had the administration put such nonsense aside and requested a stand-alone bill to greatly increase the number of immigration judges (thereby speeding up the processing of asylum requests) and expand facilities — or simply discontinue automatic incarceration of innocent women and children — we would not be faced with a human rights disaster of Trump’s own making.

To make matters worse, Trump’s inability to hire, retain and empower senior officials in key positions creates chaos in the very organizations responsible for the migrants. The Post reports, “President Trump is preparing to name Mark Morgan, the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as his new border chief, replacing the current acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, John Sanders.” Remember, this is within a department with no permanent secretary. The latest personnel shuffle “at the highest levels of the Department of Homeland Security, where leadership instability has accompanied a crisis at the border amid the biggest migration surge in more than a decade” creates a portrait of disorganization and confusion.

Trump’s modus operandi — whether in foreign policy or immigration — is to condemn his predecessors, reverse whatever they have done with no thought to what will replace it, whip up his base with the promise of extreme responses and fail to hire competent people who can solve problems. He does not hire the best people, to put it mildly. (“The shake-up Tuesday continued a purge of DHS leadership that Trump began in April that has left every single border- or immigration-related agency at DHS with an acting leader who has not been confirmed by the Senate,” the Post reports.)

More important, he is interested in creating TV dramas and vilifying his opponents, not resolving problems. When Trump’s antics blow up in his face (as with the threat of military force against Iran or with the detention of asylum seekers), he feeds Fox News and his base a pack of lies. Reality, however, has a way of piercing the smoke. While Trump shifts the blame and makes bellicose promises, the rest of the country sees the painful reality: a president utterly unfit to govern.

Read more:

Greg Sargent: Democrats are trying to deliver aid to children. Trump is threatening to veto it.

Eugene Robinson: This is the reality of Trump’s America

The Post’s View: America should be horrified by this

Greg Sargent: Democrats are developing their own answers to Trump’s border cruelties