Abusive relationships have a common signifier: Eventually, the abuser begins to control the perception of the person being abused. The classic tactic is to blur the abused person’s sense of reality — so that the abuse they suffer appears not only normal and familiar, but even justified.

If you’re not thinking of Donald Trump and his hardline, anti-immigrant adviser Stephen Miller right now, look again. “Innocent Americans,” Miller claimed recently, “are victimized on a daily basis because of illegal immigration.”

But if you’ve paid any attention to the news lately, it’s plain that immigrants are the ones being victimized.

This spring, the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy toward undocumented immigrants, vowing to criminally prosecute immigrants who would normally face only a civil violation for crossing the border without inspection — along with asylum seekers who break no laws at all. It’s a classic tactic to abuse people who’ve already been victimized, and then to blame the victims.

Karla Molinar-Arvizo is a New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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