Your head will spin if you follow the bouncing ball of explanations from presidential adviser Stephen Miller — who says it is policy — to Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen — who says it isn’t — to Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who cherry-picks the Bible to support injuring children. President Trump said he could not end it, it was not his to end. But then, on Wednesday, he did end it. Supposedly.
Former First Lady Laura Bush is totally correct: We should immediately stop using immigrant children as a chip to ensure the building of a wall. That would be the wall that Mr. Trump swore the Mexican government would pay for.
If he wants to develop a policy for immigration that is zero tolerance, then it should be legal, moral and clear. Using the separation of children — infants to toddlers to teens — as a bargaining chip is harmful.
Here is the thing about bad policy regarding families: If it is not shut down as immoral and not an American standard, it gets to become an accepted way to govern. Separating families, as long as they are not yours, begins to look like a norm that we can live with. And so we run the risk down the road that another law will be called “zero tolerance,” and families will again be separated.
This can, for white people born here, seem like simply upholding the law, until the tide changes and it becomes OK to separate folks from your background, your faith, because of a breaking of a law maybe by one person in your family.
“Oh, don’t be silly,” I hear you say, but once a tool goes into the tool chest of government and no one rises to call it into question, there it stays and becomes precedent for the next moment they wish to use it.
“Well, under the Trump administration in 2018, it was acceptable, so we (insert party, department, candidate) see no history of it being challenged by the Congress or in the courts, so it is standing law/practice.” And there you are, mired in the law of accepted behavior. That is why this reversal is important.
Yes, we need good administration of our borders, but we should be careful lest we sound more like Ebenezer Scrooge — “Are there no prisons? Are there no work houses?” — than like our pledge “with liberty and justice for all.” I am one who believes that means exactly what it says, liberty and justice for all, including those who try to cross our borders, seek asylum.
This is another area in our national debate which needs airing. We all need to take a step back and stop the name-calling and demonization of immigrants and asylum seekers. We would be foolish to believe that we, right here, don’t know very decent men and women who are, right now, contributing to our towns who may not be fully documented. Many in this country have been here for many years.
You can regard them as equal to the people trying to get in today, you can regard them as criminals, but should we not take the time to find out just who it is we are losing? If they have been upstanding for a decade or more, does that count for nothing?
If women and families are fleeing gang violence, governments that injure or kill those who stand in opposition, does that count for nothing? Is it really and truly our belief that everyone approaching our borders are thugs, criminals and looking to overthrow us?
Surely there is a middle way in all of this that can honor the decency both in us and in families seeking to come into our nation. Yes, some are desperate enough to run the border; let’s not jail them but guide them to the proper entry path. OK, some will need to go home, but not all.
Let us be merciful and just, particularly to children who cannot opt not to come with their parents. Let us find it in our hearts to talk to one another both within government and in our homes. And let us not ask the children to pay the price for our silence.
Mr. Trump, find another way to build that wall.