President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday designed to keep migrant families together at the U.S.-Mexico border.
We need a new approach to immigration
After weeks of claims that there was no such policy of family separation, and that it was the Democrats fault, Trump’s new executive order would allow families to be locked up together — but indefinitely. It will almost certainly be met with a legal challenge. Beyond that, it fails to address the poison at the core of American immigration policy: We treat all migrants as suspects, feed them into a system of mass incarceration, and often throw legitimate asylum seekers back into violent situations that have led to deaths.
Trump’s favorite boogeyman, the rightly notorious MS-13 gang, was formed mostly by youths fleeing violent civil war in El Salvador — then run by a Reagan-backed, right-wing military government.
The situation is the result of decades of both Democratic and Republican attitudes toward immigration. The current crisis at the border is the natural progression of a long-fraught approach that’s largely been fueled by misinformation, distrust and racism.
It didn’t start with Trump. The Obama administration was rightly criticized for its increased use of deportation. Further back, Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a creation of the George W. Bush administration’s newly formed Department of Homeland Security, an entire government office birthed of the post-9/11, anti-foreigner/immigrant, “war on terror” frenzy.
All of the fearmongering rhetoric being used to justify everything from building the impossible border wall to tearing children from their parents and putting them into camps — it’s the same racist, nativist dog whistling that was used to justify discrimination and violence against Irish, Italian, Eastern European and Chinese immigrants at various times in our nation’s past. We even used it to shut out and ignore Jewish refugees fleeing deadly pogroms in Germany.
We need a new approach to immigration. To start, we should repeal laws criminalizing illegal entry and re-entry, or at least bar the prosecution of asylum seekers. Provide a clearer path to citizenship, with more training and funding for good immigration judges and lawyers. Reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and support DREAMers, who were brought here illegally as children.
Immigrants have always been and always will be the crucial lifeblood of America. People seeking a better life, willing to undertake the enormously stressful and often dangerous process of uprooting and moving to a totally unfamiliar place, to work hard upon settlement to overcome the many barriers placed in their way — those are the folks who have and will continue to help make America truly great.
When faced with these problems, and the horrific actions of our own government, we have to ask ourselves: What kind of country do we want to be?
What our readers are saying
And how exactly do you prove that the adults detained at the border are actually the parents of their accompanying children? Do you think they show up with birth certificates, photo ID or family genealogy charts?
Lets forget the fact that some of these adults could be violent criminals. Putting them all in a dorm-style housing together ... what could go wrong?
— Jackson Wilson
Two significant takeaways from Trump reversing his immigrant-separation order are
►Trump’s action proves he (and everyone who spoke in his defense) was continually lying, again and again, when he claimed that he couldnt do anything, and that Democrats were responsible and needed to change their bad law.
►A majority of Republicans in Congress were pleased to stay out of it and let Trump keep the hammer on immigrants and their kids, if there werent election consequences.
Trump will probably lie that he was told he couldn’t change the policy on his own. But what excuse will Republicans, who have failed to check the abhorrent behavior of this president, have?
— Malcolm Kantzler
Trump said he couldnt fix the problem, only Congress. Now, due to political optics, he changes back to only he can change the policy. Just another example of a deeply flawed policy by the dictator of this country.
— Nobby Grimsby
Do people really think the call for immigration reform is about Democrats trying to get more voters on their side? How long are these people going to blame Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton when Trump has control over policies now?
It was Trumps plan to use these kids as bargaining chip to get his wall. When it became apparent how harmful it would be to the GOP to continue this policy, he suddenly has a change of "heart." This is on Trump and his cronies, no one else.
— Stephen Dunkin
What others are saying
Kayleigh McEnany, The Hill: "Democrats want to keep the focus on Trump, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., reportedly responded when asked if he would support a GOP-led bill to stop family separation of illegal immigrants on the border. With these eye-opening words, Democrats sunk to a new low, putting politics above people once again. ... In reality, if Democrats truly cared about solutions to our immigration crisis they would have done so long ago — like in 2009, when they controlled the entire federal government and maintained a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate."
Luis H. Zayas, USA TODAY: "The Department of Homeland Security must work closely with the Department of Health and Human Services, especially its Office of Refugee Resettlement, to make sure services to help these children are funded. It should not be left to the states to channel these funds. Locally, politicians tend to reward agencies irrespective of their capacity to provide sound care. Funds should not go to contractors who have held these children in prisons. Instead, the government must work through reputable national organizations such as Children’s Defense Fund, Save the Children, Ford Foundation and Annie E. Casey Foundation to work directly with ethical, responsible social services agencies on the ground who have proved their worth, their trust."
Bret Stephens, The New York Times: "If anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools, then opposition to immigration is the conservatism of morons. It mistakes identity for virtue, entitlement for merit, geographic place for moral value. In a nation of immigrants, it’s un-American. I’ll be accused of wanting open borders. Subtract terrorists, criminals, violent fanatics and political extremists from the mix, and I plead guilty to wanting more-open borders. Come on in. There’s more than enough room in this broad and fruitful land of the free."