The debate surrounding the separation of children from their parents after being detained at the border is really starting to wear on me.
It’s not that a third of the people in my social media feeds, TWO thirds of the cable news networks I see on TV, and even my own local newspaper are relentlessly accusing me of being the moral equivalent of a Nazi sympathizer just for being a conservative. Frankly, it doesn’t even register anymore, because the progressive left has been accusing literally anyone slightly to the right of them of being Nazis for so long that the accusation has lost all meaning and significance.
It’s that the vitriol, spite and sheer disgust infused in this particular round of artificially induced outrage is dangerously hyperbolic, harmfully misdirected, and ultimately disingenuous… and yet its participants are claiming the supreme moral and philosophical high ground while sincerely accusing anyone who disagrees with them of facilitating a second holocaust. (Which, again, would be deeply offensive if we weren’t already inured to being called goosestepping thugs literally every time we dare to commit the high crime of espousing a basic conservative, classically liberal, or traditionally religious viewpoint.)
It may sound like an exaggeration, but I’m just going to keep gesturing wildly to HuffPo, Slate, Salon, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, and the freaking NEW YORK TIMES… and the countless stories they’ve run doing just that. Quite frankly, the idea that espousing a conservative mindset or supporting basic immigration control policy that even Barack Obama supported as recently as the previous decade, qualifies one as a bigot is a disturbing chill on political discourse, and yet it’s become the norm: Each new thing the Republican party does is new WORST THING EVER, AND ANYONE WHO DOES NOTHING TO STOP THEM IS COMPLICIT. And so both sides soon start to think “What’s the point of even talking anymore?”
Some people are going to feel understandably offended that the very real passion they feel for this issue is being labeled as “artificially induced.”
But it’s exactly that. Not on a personal level, but a societal one. The idea of a child being torn from the arms of a mother is a jarring image, a heart-wrenching event, a horrifying prospect, and a court-mandated function of our Federal legal system that saw exactly zero mass demonstrations (either online or in the streets) until the wrestling tag-team duo of Donald “Cheeto” Trump and Jeff “Devil Lettuce” Sessions appeared in the political ring with a folding chair.
These practices, and the pictures of them, have existed for YEARS without this public outcry. In fact multiple retractions had to be issued after news outlets posted a picture of a detainment center that was taken during the OBAMA administration. It’s simple, standard procedure: If you break into a house and bring your kid along to watch, you will be separated from your child when you’re “detained.” Moreover, the reason ICE cannot detain children with their families is something called the Flores Consent Decree from nineties, which was broadened and enforced by the Ninth Circuit Court.
Even the “staggering number” of these cases isn’t new.
What IS new is the sudden, dramatic increase in people turning to claims of asylum after being caught, and people don’t understand that this is actually EXACERBATING the detention problem. Read the governments overview of how asylum application works, and more importantly, the differences between Affirmative and Defensive application:
- The quickest, easiest, and safest way to gain asylum to the United States is, in a shocking twist, to arrive here legally, at a port of entry, fill out the proper paperwork, go through an interview process, and enjoy your stay until your appointed hearing, when your asylum eligibility will be verified.
- However, if someone is caught crossing the border ILLEGALLY, and they only claim asylum AFTER they are caught and threatened with deportation, then they need to prove their case as part of their criminal defense, because the fact that they did not claim asylum in any other nation, or claim it at a proper port of entry, makes their claim suspect, and a judge has to make the final call.
In the case of the former, Coyotes started advertising this as a guaranteed method to enter the country, and encouraged migrants to bring their children along for emphasis, coaching them just enough to gain entry. Under old regulations, the centers would not detain them, but the refugee would have to report back on a specific date, and if their asylum claim was found to be frivolous (of which nearly 90% are), they would be deported. So they would just skip their court date and never show up, becoming fugitives. The number of people entering the country this way and disappearing has EXPLODED in the past three years alone, even though violence in Central America has been raging for nearly a decade.
In the case of the latter, well, the number of families and children crossing the border illegally has QUADRUPLED, and most are claiming asylum after they are caught as well, trending towards the record highs seen back in 2014 with the expansion of DACA to illegal immigrants.
And so, with a dramatic overflow of DEFENSIVE asylum requests and the massive backlog of AFFIRMATIVE asylum requests that have failed to appear, the Department of Justice is now holding people until their hearings along with the people already being held, because the sheer number of traffic coming over the border is overloading the system.
And in BOTH cases, United States law says children cannot be detained that way.
The Asylum Request procedure may be unpleasant, but it is not the result of meticulous persecution as much as it is the sad byproduct of two decades of legal, judicial, and bureaucratic pileup that’s unable to properly cope with a massive volume of people trying to exploit a legal loophole.
And this usually brings us to what is easily the most frustrating and emotionally-driven stage of the outrage, which inevitably plays out something like this:
“THEN THE LAW IS WRONG! We’re criminalizing people for a victimless crime! We need to CHANGE the laws! How can YOU, who CLAIMS to be a Christian, support this CLEARLY MORALLY EGREGIOUS state of affairs! This isn’t what Christ would have wanted! It’s monstrous! And if you’re not outraged, then you must be monstrous as well!”
Ok, pump the brakes.
First of all, arguing that illegal entry to a country is a victimless crime is arguable at best, and in this case, it’s not a moment of libertarian enlightenment. It’s actually some pretty grim foreshadowing.
SECOND of all.. I’m old enough to remember five days ago, when the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision was a travesty; a horrific violation of the separation of Church and State by siding with that despicable baker man for having “RELIGIOUS beliefs.”
In fact, I’m old enough to remember five minutes ago, when we were all busy browbeating Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders for using the Bible to justify upholding the rule of the law, because that’s what the SLAVE OWNERS did a hundred and fifty years ago.
Let’s ignore the fallacy of deciding that if something is used incorrectly to justify something bad, that everything else it’s used to justify is bad as well. Let’s also ignore the hypocrisy of then using that same thing to justify your own politics instead.
Because as a Christian, I actually agree; the laws need to be changed.
Our current system is NOT optimized to handle such a volume of people trying to either honestly claim asylum, or people who are hoping to exploit it and roll the dice on overloading the system. We need an overhaul of the laws, rulings, and procedures for the detention process and detention centers because we absolutely should allow families to be humanely detained together, and then admitted or deported together.
Because that’s how sovereign nations with laws and borders are supposed to work.
The fact that the current detention process is broken is not proof that it needs to be obliterated. Instead, it demonstrates the need to reform and update it so that migrants can be processed efficiently, comfortably, and fairly.
And that’s where the agreement usually breaks down: Even though separating children from their families is ostensibly the problem, that proposed solution tends to MAGICALLY result in the goalposts of the issue shifting dramatically. Suddenly, NO ONE should be detained, because entering the country illegally shouldn’t be a crime, and detaining a family together is suddenly just as bad as detaining them separately. We concede that families should not be separated, and to our surprise, we are still accused of being tiki-torchbearers.
We get lost down a rabbit-hole of open-border arguments and discussions about the philosophy of unrestricted movement. And this is why so many conservatives don’t even want to engage the issue, because they see the bait-and-switch coming and they are tired of being called to account for a grievance they didn’t start, only to be clubbed over the head with a highly debatable political philosophy they don’t agree with. Even in Congress, where every Republican suggestion to fix the issue is met with Chuck Schumer reading his decline slowly and dramatically into a news camera for an entirely new set of reasons.
If the child separation issue is something you legitimately want to solve, then call your congressman or senator, and encourage them to work across the aisle to get rid of outdated restrictions and budget the money we need to improve security and processing capabilities at the border so families won’t be stuck in legal limbo.
Or just keep virtue-signalling on social media.
~ Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central Pennsylvania, where he’s patiently waiting for the WWE to call about the rights to his “Cheeto and Devil’s Lettuce” tag-team idea. Follow him on Twitter!