The explosive situation that has developed in this country regarding the separation of parents and their children who illegally enter America is showing the sad condition of our nation. It is revealing the wholesale incompetence and hypocrisy that dominate our human affairs, in general and, for this discussion, Congress. These are just two of the negative descriptors of our troubling situation that demands concern and action on the part of every American.
The situation at hand is that, as has been the case for many years, individuals are illegally crossing the southern border and entering our country. Consider the following from an article titled “Illegal Immigration is a Crime” (www.fairus.org/issue/illegal-immigration/illegal-immigration-crime): “Each year the Border Patrol apprehends hundreds of thousands of aliens who flagrantly violate our nation’s laws by unlawfully crossing U.S. borders. Such illegal entry is a misdemeanor, and, if repeated after being deported, becomes punishable as a felony.
“Illegal immigration causes an enormous drain on public funds. The seminal study of the costs of immigration by the National Academy of Sciences found that the taxes paid by immigrants do not begin to cover the cost of services received by them. The quality of education, health care and other services for Americans are undermined by the needs of endless numbers of poor, unskilled illegal entrants.
“Additionally, job competition by waves of illegal immigrants desperate for any job unfairly depresses the wages and working conditions offered to American workers, hitting hardest at minority workers and those without high school degrees.”
Being apprehended when illegally entering the country is a misdemeanor crime. The parents whose children were separated from them were being held under the misdemeanor condition. Some of these parents illegally entered the country, but then claimed they were seeking asylum because of conditions in their home country. American law requires that persons seeking asylum must be physically present in the U.S. or seeking admission into the country at a port of entry – not illegally breaking in.
Given that it is a crime to enter the country without permission, how we got to the point of investing so much financially, and otherwise adversely impacting bona fide Americans, in caring for people who break into America requires examination.
A segment on NBC’s “Today Show” provides tremendous insight regarding how we got here. It can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Uv_UdHHfno. By way of summary, the Trump administration instituted a “zero tolerance” policy. That policy means any person apprehended entering the U.S. without required approval will be prosecuted. Those persons apprehended will be held in custody until a judge decides whether they will go to prison. There is an appearance before a judge within a few days of apprehension, but it is months until the accused faces a judge for a decision regarding imprisonment.
The separation happens because children are not allowed to stay in prison with a parent. Children must be transferred from the Border Patrol to Health and Human Services within three days of apprehension. A child not being allowed to be held with parents is one obstacle to the president’s efforts to enforce immigration laws. At this writing, separations have been halted based on an executive order signed by Trump.
What happened when President Barack Obama tried to address the problem of families illegally entering the country explains the other component of the difficulty Trump is facing as he tries to stop the assault on our southern border. The following is from an article by Dara Linddara on Vox.com titled “The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained.” The article says, “When the Obama administration attempted to respond to the ‘crisis’ of families and unaccompanied children crossing the border in summer 2014, it put hundreds of families in immigration detention – a practice that had basically ended several years before. But federal courts stopped the administration from holding families for months without justifying the decision to keep them in detention. So, most families ended up getting released while their cases were pending – which immigration hawks have derided as ‘catch and release.’ In some cases, they disappeared into the U.S. rather than showing up for their court dates.”
The quote above says, “In some cases, they disappeared into the U.S. rather than showing up for their court dates.” Consider the following from an article, March 19, 2017, by Mark Metcalf titled “Courting Disaster.”
“U.S. immigration enforcement and adjudication are failing. American immigration courts have the highest failure to appear rates of any courts in the country. Over the last 20 years, 37 percent of all aliens free pending trial failed to appear for their hearings.”
Being apprehended entering America without permission is a crime. When these offenders are released into the country while awaiting trial, many of them do not appear for their court date. To enforce the law and protect this nation, the Trump Justice Department implemented a “zero tolerance” policy. That means offenders will not be released into America to await trial. Given that children cannot be held in detention with parents, separations result. Since there is a high no-show rate by those illegal aliens who have been allowed to be free while awaiting a court appearance, Trump recognizes the need to keep, in custody, those who illegally enter the country.
Despite this clear and present danger, in response to the outcry regarding children and law-breaking parents being separated, the physical security and economic and fiscal stability of legal American citizens is thrown to the wind.
That “throwing to the wind” is happening all around us. As of this writing, Republicans in Congress are flailing all over the place trying to pass legislation that will address this parent/child separation crisis along with the larger issue of illegal immigration. If something of substance and fairness for American citizens is passed, I will sincerely apologize to Republican members of Congress.
In my estimation, Democrats are even worse – much worse. It shows in this quote attributed to Sen. Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, in an article by Susan Jones titled “Schumer: ‘There’s No Need’ for Immigration Legislation; Republicans Are ‘Feeling the Heat.’”
“Another reporter asked Schumer if the time might come when ‘Democrats would be willing to work with the Republicans’ on a ‘narrow’ immigration bill.
“‘Let’s hope we never get to that,’” Schumer responded. ‘Let’s hope the president does the right thing and solves the problem, which he can do. That’s the simple, easiest and most likely way this will happen. How many times has immigration legislation passed in this Congress? How many times? Zero.’”
Schumer is saying Democrats will do nothing, absolutely nothing, to address the outrage over the separation issue and celebrates that Republicans are “feeling the heat.” This response is consistent with Democratic conduct from day one of the Trump presidency – obstruct and produce nothing, other than stalemate and confusion. All of this is about political posturing, not about serving the best interest of American citizens.
The flailing of Congressional Republicans on this, and other issues, coupled with the obstructionism and do-nothing conduct of Congressional Democrats, show Congress to be incompetent.
Beyond being incompetent, hypocrisy reigns. A prime example shows through in a video of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D, CA) at www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvRZdNoHEf8. In 1993 and 1994, she made exactly the same case for dealing with illegal immigration as Trump is making. Now, in 2018, Feinstein introduces legislation (the Keep Families Together Act) as reported by Eliza Collins in an article titled “No Republicans support Senate bill that would stop child separations at border.”
Collins writes, “Every Senate Democrat is now a cosponsor of the legislation, which would prohibit children from being separated from their parents within 100 miles of the U.S. border except for instances of abuse, neglect or other specific circumstances.”
If children cannot be separated from parents, those parents cannot be held for prosecution, and we are back to releasing them in “catch and release” mode. This legislation is from the same Feinstein whose views of illegal immigration in the 1990s agreed with Trump’s position of today. Feinstein is just one example, among many, of the hypocrisy raging in Congress.
This combination of congressional incompetence and hypocrisy threatens the very survival of America as a place of liberty, freedom, security, opportunity and prosperity. If those of us who are adults are not willing to save America for ourselves, do it for coming generations, even those yet unborn.