Commentary Violence

When Words Become Bullets: Elliot Rodger and the Patriarchal Id

Katherine Cross

Rodger’s actions have a chilling rationality to them in the terms of our gendered society, which makes objects and possessions of women, and rapacious, status-conscious animals of men. Whatever else Rodger’s crimes are, they are not unintelligible; they merely wrote in blood what too many of us hear, see, and say every day.

In the wake of the mass shooting in Isla Vista this past weekend, which claimed the lives of seven and injured 13, a flood of feminist commentary has issued forth, offering a strong corrective to the business-as-usual cycles of editorializing that usually follow such atrocities. The usual handwringing about whether “guns kill people” and the “state of mental health care in this country” has been shocked by the forceful reminder by many—women and men alike—who refuse to downplay the role of misogyny in the killing and who have drawn attention to the profound hatred of women that caused the 22-year-old Elliot Rodger to feel that women’s rejection of his sexual advances was casus belli for slaughter.

Why did this shooting stir up such a critical mass of comment? It might have something to do with the way this case sits at a terrifyingly violent intersection of sexism, racism, ableism, and a universe of online commentary that stalks far too many women, cis and trans, queer and straight, and of all races. It was a case of cybersexism made real—along with cyberracism, if one wants to be accurate about it. It is a patriarchal id, online, that voices all the often hidden subtext of gender and race relations.

The hashtag #YesAllWomen has sprung up in response to the plaintive wailing of those who claim that Rodger is neither representative of all men, nor that he is anything but a “mentally ill,” “deranged” “madman” who is solely responsible for his actions, by elaborating on the daily realities of womanhood in this society.

But with all mass killings, “insanity” becomes the go-to ableist fairy tale that our society uses to brush its pathologies beneath the rug of ceremonial angst. We say that the killers were clearly crazed, and that only the “mentally ill” could commit such crimes—the revelation that Rodger may have been on the autism spectrum has been seized upon greedily by a media hungry for exoneration and collective catharsis. Never mind the slander this perpetrates on the millions of people who are somewhere on that spectrum.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

If he’s “crazy,” it’s nobody else’s fault; furthermore, this ignores how Rodger and many other mass killers were raised in a society that exalts violence as the epitome of masculine expression.

Such acts only enter a person’s universe of possibility at all because of the culture in which they stew. They do not spring suddenly from fevered dreams and alien logics. As abhorred as many of us are, Rodger’s actions have a chilling rationality to them in the terms of our gendered society, which makes objects and possessions of women, and rapacious, status-conscious animals of men. Whatever else Rodger’s crimes are, they are not unintelligible; they merely wrote in blood what too many of us hear, see, and say every day.

This is why this crime horrifies us to the extent it has, why it prompted a mighty surge of comment, particularly from feminists—men and women alike. We looked at the news and found ourselves peering vertiginously into a black hole of intersectional ruin. We looked at Rodger’s actions and saw a thousand tweets and online comments take life and murder men and women for all the reasons that flood YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and news website comment sections on the daily. We saw the terrifying apotheosis of online racism, sexism, and raw hate, as it assumed a profoundly physical reality that was woefully impossible to meet with the whimper of “but it’s just words.”

We saw the patriarchal id assume a shape and actually kill.

We saw words become bullets.

It isn’t that Rodger’s murders were especially unique. Mass shootings have been committed before, often as a form of masculine protest—a terrifying symptom of what sociologists Rachel Kalish and Michael Kimmel call “aggrieved entitlement”—some have had explicitly racist dimensions, as we saw in Wisconsin with a neo-Nazi (who was fond of online rants) targeting Sikhs, or in Kansas when one man (also a frequent forum ranter) killed three people at Jewish centers. Other killers wore their sexism on their sleeves, like Anders Bering Breivik’s murder of 77 people—mostly teenagers—because he saw himself as an anti-feminist, anti-Islam, anti-immigrant crusader who would save Norway by slaughtering some of its brightest and most civic-minded youth.

This is not new.

But Rodger’s atrocity shook us from a torpor because of how unambiguous he was—a Southern Poverty Law Center research team was not necessary to draw the link between his online rants, so thoroughly indistinguishable from that of many other anonymous, faceless men, and the mass murder he ultimately perpetrated. It also frightens us because it drew a panoply of prejudices together.

Much ink has been spilled, thankfully, on the misogyny of all this, but less attention has been paid to the role of Rodger’s racism in his crimes. One cannot make sense of the misogyny without the racism, and vice versa. His self-loathing as a biracial child in a white supremacist society, and the way he externalised that hatred onto men of color who he viewed as “inferior” and “lesser,” whose existence doubly affronted him when they dated the white women he so longed for, are all important elements to note here.

As writer Jeff Yang notes at Quartz:

Rodger’s murderous rage was rooted in an obsessive self-hatred, born from his belief that he was entitled to, and thwarted from obtaining, a trifecta of privileges: Race, class, and gender. He saw himself as not quite white enough. Not quite rich enough. Not quite “masculine” enough.

This is, whether we as feminists own up to it or not, part of why this case has so frightened us: To look into it is to see an abyss where racism and sexism are a double helix binding us all together, painfully. It is everything all at once; it tells us why four young men of color died along with two white women.

Ask yourself honestly what Rodger meant when he lamented that he could not be a “normal, fully-white person”—then hear the anguish of countless people of color who learn to loathe the hue of our own skin, our eyes, our hair, and how biracial people of color are often made to feel rootless or exoticized.

These notes provide, at best, fitful outlines of what we may call “the patriarchal id,” but Rodger’s crimes have, in much the same way earthworms surface after a rainstorm, revealed so many people willing to fill in that sketch for us.

The never-ending rivers of chatter comprising the Internet’s infinite tributaries are polluted with the most vile kinds of racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and on and on and on, leading ever onward like the River Styx into Hades’ depths. Rodger’s killings have drawn that commentary into sharp relief.

Four comments left on the YouTube video of Rodger’s now infamous rant-cum-manifesto, filmed in his BMW:

“Well girls, keep that in mind next time you friendzone somebody!”

“See girls, this is what you get for treating nice guys like shit.”

“I hope you women see this as a lesson stop being so stuck up an give that one kid some pussy who never gets shit and you might save a life…”

“I don’t blame guns, I blame blondes for this one.”

It should not surprise us that the website Strategic Dating Coach also commented on Rodger’s video. With an ad. “Don’t let this happen to you,” it seemed to say.

These comments grant utterance to the cultural subtext that has been etched into every successive generation of women: We must either fuck men or incur their wrath. If we do not sleep with a man, he may kill us. Or he may kill our friends. Or his friends. Or people we don’t know.

Such comments, and thousands of others like them, are the cultural swamp out of which a mass killer like Rodger will arise. They can take a lonely and troubled young man and give him an ideology that justifies mass murder as an antidote to his maladies.

But then there are those with somewhat less sympathy for the killings. You’ve all seen them, I’m sure. Men and women alike posting something to the effect of “well no wonder he couldn’t get a girlfriend!” Comments abound about his appearance, or about the fact that, in truth, his heinous killing proves he’s a “beta male” or even “omega male,” not the macho pack leader he envisioned himself as. Each, in different ways, turns the implements of Rodger’s own misogyny back on his ghost, using the same tired sexist logic he employed so that they might revenge themselves on his corpse in a Huffington Post comment.

What links them is that such comments do not challenge the economy of women’s bodies that underscored this crime. They do not challenge the very notion that a man’s worth is judged by the number of women on his arm, or that women are obligated to “hook up” with “good guys.” Instead, they seem to say, “It’s OK ladies, he’s clearly terrible. But you’d better sleep with an actual nice guy. Just sayin’.”

The comments on a different reposting of Rodger’s video make for equally sobering reading:

“Full blown autism.”

“LOL what a faggot.”

“it seems that this is likely a psyop to gain more ground for gun confiscation. I don’t believe this for a second. they should have involved race so it could distract more….HA.”

“don’t know if any of you femicunts are aware of this but 5 out of the 7 victims who died from this incident were men and two were women. So I am not sure how this correlates to the mens rights movement to be blamed for this.”

Each, in its way, tries to discipline this tragedy into a comforting cultural legibility, making sense of what happened in a way that does not disrupt existing beliefs. Each comment sloughs off some bit of collective responsibility, each tries to push Rodger into the realm of the alien and monstrous. The latticework of ableism-fired denial and macho defensiveness is terrifyingly impressive.

This is merely a brief sampling of the different genres of commentary occasioned by this shooting. But the ordinary world of women and people of color online is just as toxic. Elliot Rodger is frightening because so much of what he said looks suspiciously like things that are said to us or about us on a regular basis by many more people, mostly men, than can be reasonably counted.

This is why these crimes are acts of terrorism.

They are the supposedly “one in a million” events that keep us all fearful of which Twitter user or Facebook commenter or hate-mail-sender will be “the one” who makes good on their vile threats—if not to us, then to someone else. Rodger is the empirical reminder that this is possible.

Whether it’s feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian being called an “ovendodger” for critically commenting on video games; fantasy writer N.K. Jemisin being called a “half-savage” by a white male sci-fi writer who resented her challenge to racism and sexism in genre fiction, and whose defenders proceeded to send Jemisin racist/sexist threats; writer and feminist activist Laurie Penny, who receives heaps of rape threats as part of the occupational hazard of being a woman who holds her opinions publicly; or someone like myself who has had to deal with stalkers, transmisogynists, and hate mail from people using similar kinds of language.

Getting my first rape threat was a terrifying rite of passage I shared with almost every other woman I know.

But a crime like Rodger’s, or George Sodini’s or Marc Lepine’s, remind us that sometimes a man means it when he says he wants to kill us. Or, we see too often nowadays, that men mean it when they say they want us to kill ourselves. The river of the patriarchal id overflows its boundaries regularly.

That Stygian flood gets into all of our lives eventually, desensitizing us, robbing the world of its color and life, deadening us. For too many of us, it feels like only a matter of time before it consumes us whole, another sacrifice to an eternally vengeful socio-structural god.

Culture & Conversation Human Rights

Let’s Stop Conflating Self-Care and Actual Care

Katie Klabusich

It's time for a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities.

As a chronically ill, chronically poor person, I have feelings about when, why, and how the phrase “self-care” is invoked. When International Self-Care Day came to my attention, I realized that while I laud the effort to prevent some of the 16 million people the World Health Organization reports die prematurely every year from noncommunicable diseases, the American notion of self-care—ironically—needs some work.

I propose a shift in the use of “self-care” that creates space for actual care apart from the extra kindnesses and important, small indulgences that may be part of our self-care rituals, depending on our ability to access such activities. How we think about what constitutes vital versus optional care affects whether/when we do those things we should for our health and well-being. Some of what we have come to designate as self-care—getting sufficient sleep, treating chronic illness, allowing ourselves needed sick days—shouldn’t be seen as optional; our culture should prioritize these things rather than praising us when we scrape by without them.

International Self-Care Day began in China, and it has spread over the past few years to include other countries and an effort seeking official recognition at the United Nations of July 24 (get it? 7/24: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) as an important advocacy day. The online academic journal SelfCare calls its namesake “a very broad concept” that by definition varies from person to person.

“Self-care means different things to different people: to the person with a headache it might mean a buying a tablet, but to the person with a chronic illness it can mean every element of self-management that takes place outside the doctor’s office,” according to SelfCare. “[I]n the broadest sense of the term, self-care is a philosophy that transcends national boundaries and the healthcare systems which they contain.”

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

In short, self-care was never intended to be the health version of duct tape—a way to patch ourselves up when we’re in pieces from the outrageous demands of our work-centric society. It’s supposed to be part of our preventive care plan alongside working out, eating right, getting enough sleep, and/or other activities that are important for our personalized needs.

The notion of self-care has gotten a recent visibility boost as those of us who work in human rights and/or are activists encourage each other publicly to recharge. Most of the people I know who remind themselves and those in our movements to take time off do so to combat the productivity anxiety embedded in our work. We’re underpaid and overworked, but still feel guilty taking a break or, worse, spending money on ourselves when it could go to something movement- or bill-related.

The guilt is intensified by our capitalist system having infected the self-care philosophy, much as it seems to have infected everything else. Our bootstrap, do-it-yourself culture demands we work to the point of exhaustion—some of us because it’s the only way to almost make ends meet and others because putting work/career first is expected and applauded. Our previous president called it “uniquely American” that someone at his Omaha, Nebraska, event promoting “reform” of (aka cuts to) Social Security worked three jobs.

“Uniquely American, isn’t it?” he said. “I mean, that is fantastic that you’re doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)”

The audience was applauding working hours that are disastrous for health and well-being, laughing at sleep as though our bodies don’t require it to function properly. Bush actually nailed it: Throughout our country, we hold Who Worked the Most Hours This Week competitions and attempt to one-up the people at the coffee shop, bar, gym, or book club with what we accomplished. We have reached a point where we consider getting more than five or six hours of sleep a night to be “self-care” even though it should simply be part of regular care.

Most of us know intuitively that, in general, we don’t take good enough care of ourselves on a day-to-day basis. This isn’t something that just happened; it’s a function of our work culture. Don’t let the statistic that we work on average 34.4 hours per week fool you—that includes people working part time by choice or necessity, which distorts the reality for those of us who work full time. (Full time is defined by the Internal Revenue Service as 30 or more hours per week.) Gallup’s annual Work and Education Survey conducted in 2014 found that 39 percent of us work 50 or more hours per week. Only 8 percent of us on average work less than 40 hours per week. Millennials are projected to enjoy a lifetime of multiple jobs or a full-time job with one or more side hustles via the “gig economy.”

Despite worker productivity skyrocketing during the past 40 years, we don’t work fewer hours or make more money once cost of living is factored in. As Gillian White outlined at the Atlantic last year, despite politicians and “job creators” blaming financial crises for wage stagnation, it’s more about priorities:

Though productivity (defined as the output of goods and services per hours worked) grew by about 74 percent between 1973 and 2013, compensation for workers grew at a much slower rate of only 9 percent during the same time period, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

It’s no wonder we don’t sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been sounding the alarm for some time. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend people between 18 and 60 years old get seven or more hours sleep each night “to promote optimal health and well-being.” The CDC website has an entire section under the heading “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem,” outlining statistics and negative outcomes from our inability to find time to tend to this most basic need.

We also don’t get to the doctor when we should for preventive care. Roughly half of us, according to the CDC, never visit a primary care or family physician for an annual check-up. We go in when we are sick, but not to have screenings and discuss a basic wellness plan. And rarely do those of us who do go tell our doctors about all of our symptoms.

I recently had my first really wonderful check-up with a new primary care physician who made a point of asking about all the “little things” leading her to encourage me to consider further diagnosis for fibromyalgia. I started crying in her office, relieved that someone had finally listened and at the idea that my headaches, difficulty sleeping, recovering from illness, exhaustion, and pain might have an actual source.

Considering our deeply-ingrained priority problems, it’s no wonder that when I post on social media that I’ve taken a sick day—a concept I’ve struggled with after 20 years of working multiple jobs, often more than 80 hours a week trying to make ends meet—people applaud me for “doing self-care.” Calling my sick day “self-care” tells me that the commenter sees my post-traumatic stress disorder or depression as something I could work through if I so chose, amplifying the stigma I’m pushing back on by owning that a mental illness is an appropriate reason to take off work. And it’s not the commenter’s fault; the notion that working constantly is a virtue is so pervasive, it affects all of us.

Things in addition to sick days and sleep that I’ve had to learn are not engaging in self-care: going to the doctor, eating, taking my meds, going to therapy, turning off my computer after a 12-hour day, drinking enough water, writing, and traveling for work. Because it’s so important, I’m going to say it separately: Preventive health care—Pap smears, check-ups, cancer screenings, follow-ups—is not self-care. We do extras and nice things for ourselves to prevent burnout, not as bandaids to put ourselves back together when we break down. You can’t bandaid over skipping doctors appointments, not sleeping, and working your body until it’s a breath away from collapsing. If you’re already at that point, you need straight-up care.

Plenty of activities are self-care! My absolutely not comprehensive personal list includes: brunch with friends, adult coloring (especially the swear word books and glitter pens), soy wax with essential oils, painting my toenails, reading a book that’s not for review, a glass of wine with dinner, ice cream, spending time outside, last-minute dinner with my boyfriend, the puzzle app on my iPad, Netflix, participating in Caturday, and alone time.

My someday self-care wish list includes things like vacation, concerts, the theater, regular massages, visiting my nieces, decent wine, the occasional dinner out, and so very, very many books. A lot of what constitutes self-care is rather expensive (think weekly pedicures, spa days, and hobbies with gear and/or outfit requirements)—which leads to the privilege of getting to call any part of one’s routine self-care in the first place.

It would serve us well to consciously add an intersectional view to our enthusiasm for self-care when encouraging others to engage in activities that may be out of reach financially, may disregard disability, or may not be right for them for a variety of other reasons, including compounded oppression and violence, which affects women of color differently.

Over the past year I’ve noticed a spike in articles on how much of the emotional labor burden women carry—at the Toast, the Atlantic, Slate, the Guardian, and the Huffington Post. This category of labor disproportionately affects women of color. As Minaa B described at the Huffington Post last month:

I hear the term self-care a lot and often it is defined as practicing yoga, journaling, speaking positive affirmations and meditation. I agree that those are successful and inspiring forms of self-care, but what we often don’t hear people talking about is self-care at the intersection of race and trauma, social justice and most importantly, the unawareness of repressed emotional issues that make us victims of our past.

The often-quoted Audre Lorde wrote in A Burst of Light: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

While her words ring true for me, they are certainly more weighted and applicable for those who don’t share my white and cisgender privilege. As covered at Ravishly, the Feminist Wire, Blavity, the Root, and the Crunk Feminist Collective recently, self-care for Black women will always have different expressions and roots than for white women.

But as we continue to talk about self-care, we need to be clear about the difference between self-care and actual care and work to bring the necessities of life within reach for everyone. Actual care should not have to be optional. It should be a priority in our culture so that it can be a priority in all our lives.

Analysis Politics

Donald Trump and Mike Pence: The Anti-Immigrant Ticket

Tina Vasquez

“My greatest fear is that this ticket doesn’t seem to realize immigrants are actually an incredible resource that fuels our country," Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council told Rewire.

On Friday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate, giving legitimacy to concerns a Trump presidency would be anti-choice and decimate LGBTQ rights. As Rewire reported last week, Pence has voted against nondiscrimination efforts, signed a so-called religious freedom bill, opposed marriage equality, and attemptednumerous times—to defund Planned Parenthood, something Trump has promised to do if elected president.

But the two Republicans also have something else in common: They are brazenly anti-immigrant.

Despite a misleading article from the Daily Beast asserting that Pence has had a “love affair with immigration reform” and has “spent his political career decrying anti-immigrant rhetoric,” the governor’s record on immigration tells a different story.

Let’s take a look at Trump’s “xenophobic” and “racist” campaign thus far, and how closely Pence’s voting aligns with that position.

Like This Story?

Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

Donate Now

Donald Trump

For months it seemed, Donald Trump’s talking points in the media rarely drifted away from anti-immigrant rhetoric. During his kickoff speech, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “killers” and in the months since, has promised to build a 2,000-mile-long wall along the United States-Mexico border to keep “illegals” out, a wall the billionaire has promised that Mexico will pay for.

Despite being called “racist” by members of his own party, Trump’s immigration plan is largely consistent with what many Republicans have called for: a larger border wall, increasing the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers, requiring all U.S. companies to use E-Verify to check the immigration status of employees, increasing the use of detention for those who are undocumented and currently residing in the United States, and ending “birthright citizenship,” which would mean the U.S.-born children of undocumented parents would be denied citizenship.

Again, Trump’s proposed immigration policies align with the Republican Party’s, but it is the way that he routinely spreads false, damaging information about undocumented immigrants that is worrisome. Trump has repeatedly said that economically, undocumented immigrants are “killing us by “taking our jobs, taking our manufacturing jobs, taking our money.” 

Market Watch, a publication focusing on financial news, reported that this falsehood is something that a bulk of Trump supporters believe; two-thirds of Trump supporters surveyed in the primaries said they feel immigration is a burden on our country “because ‘they take our jobs, housing and health care.'” This, despite research that says deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants who currently call the United States home would result in a “massive economic hit” for Trump’s home state of New York, which receives $793 million in tax revenue from undocumented immigrants. A recent report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy also found that at the state and local level, undocumented immigrants nationwide collectively pay an estimated $11.6 billion each year in taxes.

Trump has also been accused by Muslim Americans and members of the media of engaging in “reckless, dangerous Islamophobia” at every opportunity, using terrorist attacks to call for a ban on all Muslim immigration, while also using terrorism in a self-aggrandizing manner. In a statement released after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Trump said, “I said this was going to happen.”

These dangerous assertions that all U.S.-based Muslims are secretly harboring terrorists or that undocumented immigrants are killing “thousands of peoplea narrative he continued to push at the Republican National Convention by having the families of three Americans killed by undocumented people speak—can be deadly and inspire hatred and violence. This was made all the more clearer when in August 2015 two white brothers cited Trump when they urinated on and beat a homeless Latino man. According to Huffington Post, the men “alegedly [sic] told police they targeted the man because of his ethnicity and added, ‘Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.’” Trump’s response? He said that his supporters are simply “passionate” people who want America “to be great again.”

Mike Pence

Wendy Feliz, a spokesperson with the American Immigration Council, succinctly summarized Pence’s immigration approach to Rewire, saying on Monday that he “basically falls into a camp of being more restrictive on immigration, someone who looks for more punitive ways to punish immigrants, rather than looking for the positive ways our country can benefit from immigrants.”

After Trump’s announcement that Pence would be his running mate, Immigration Impact, a project of the American Immigration Council, outlined what voters should know about Pence’s immigration record:

Pence’s record shows he used his time in Congress and as the Governor of Indiana to pursue extreme and punitive immigration policies earning him a 100 percent approval rating by the anti-immigration group, Federation for American Immigration Reform.

In 2004 when Pence was a senator, he voted for the “Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments.” The bill failed, but it would have required hospitals to gather and report information on undocumented patients before hospitals could be reimbursed for treating them. Even worse, the bill wouldn’t have required hospitals to provide care to undocumented patients if they could be deported to their country of origin without a “significant chance” of their condition getting worse.

Though it’s true that in 2006 Pence championed comprehensive immigration reform, as the Daily Beast reported, the reform came with two caveats: a tightening of border security and undocumented immigrants would have to “self-deport” and come back as guest workers. While calling for undocumented immigrants to self-deport may seem like the more egregious demand, it’s important to contextualize Pence’s call for an increase in border security.

This tactic of calling for more Border Patrol agents is commonly used by politicians to pacify those opposed to any form of immigration reform. President Obama, who has utilized more border security than any other president, announced deferred action for the undocumented in June 2012, while also promising to increase border security. But in 2006 when Pence was calling for an increase in border security, the border enforcement policy known as “Operation Gatekeeper” was still in full swing. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Operation Gatekeeper “concentrated border agents and resources along populated areas, intentionally forcing undocumented immigrants to extreme environments and natural barriers that the government anticipated would increase the likelihood of injury and death.” Pence called for more of this, although the undocumented population expanded significantly even when border enforcement resources escalated. The long-term results, the ACLU reported, were that migrants’ reliance on smugglers to transport them increased and migrant deaths multiplied.

There are more direct ways Pence has illustrated a xenophobic agenda, including co-sponsoring a congressional bill that would have made English the official language of the United States and as governor, blocking Syrian refugees en route to Indiana, saying he would not accept any more Syrian refugees out of fear they were “terrorists.” The governor also added Indiana to the Texas lawsuit challenging expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). And he praised the inaction by the Supreme Court last month to expand DACA and DAPA, which leaves millions of undocumented immigrants living in fear of deportation.

According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, “when a child who is not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian is apprehended by immigration authorities, the child is transferred to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Federal law requires that ORR feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings.”

The ORR added that these sponsors “live in many states,” including Indiana, which received 245 unaccompanied minors between January and July 2014. Pence was reportedly unaware that unaccompanied minors were being placed in his state by the federal government, something he said he was made aware of by media reports. These are asylum seeking children, often girls under the age of 10, escaping violence in their countries of origin who arrive at the United States-Mexico border without an adult. Many, including advocacy organizations and the Obama administration, have contended that the circumstances surrounding unaccompanied minors is not simply an immigration issue, but a humanitarian crisis. Not Pence. In a letter to President Obama, the Indiana governor wrote:

While we feel deep compassion for these children, our country must secure its borders and provide for a legal and orderly immigration process …. Failure to expedite the return of unaccompanied children thwarts the rule of law and will only continue to send a distorted message that illegally crossing into America is without consequence.

In the four days since Pence was named Trump’s running mate, he’s also taken a much harsher stance on Muslim immigration. Back in December when Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Pence tweeted that banning Muslims from entering the United States was “offensive and unconstitutional.” However, on Friday when Pence was officially named Trump’s VP pick, he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity, “I am very supportive of Donald Trump’s call to temporarily suspend immigration from countries where terrorist influence and impact represents a threat to the United States.”

Wendy Feliz of the American Immigration Council told Rewire that while Pence’s rhetoric may not be as inflammatory as Trump’s, it’s important to look at his record in relation to Trump’s to get a better understanding of what the Republican ticket intends to focus on moving into a possible presidency. Immigration, she said, is one of the most pressing issues of our time and has become a primary focus of the election.

“In a few days, we’ll have a better sense of the particular policies the Republican ticket will be pursuing on immigration. It all appears to point to more of the same, which is punitive, the punishing of immigrants,” Feliz said. “My greatest fear is that this ticket doesn’t seem to realize immigrants are actually an incredible resource that fuels our country. I don’t think Trump and Pence is a ticket that values that. An administration that doesn’t value immigrants, that doesn’t value what’s fueled our country for the past several hundred years, hurts all of us. Not just immigrants themselves, but every single American.”