Sheila Markin is a former Assistant US Attorney. She helps people to understand in plain English what is going on in US politics today. Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss a post!
The Trump administration is engaged in an evil game to entrap families trying to come to the United States for a better life, fleeing violence in their own countries. Before now, asylum seekers never had their children taken away. This is a new policy rolled out by Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller, and Kirstjen Nielsen. (I am annoyed that we have the same last name. We are not related!)
There are many ways that the implementation of this policy is evil. One reason is that when families come to the border there used to be border entry points where a family seeking asylum could show up and be processed without being charged with illegal entry. They had an orderly process of determination whether their claims were valid and families were kept together. But now those entry points have been all but closed down. People showing up there are told our country has a backlog of requests. The families lie on the ground, sleep on the ground outside the checkpoints hoping to be processed eventually but according to reports, they are probably not going to be let in.
After that, immigrants face the prospect of leaving and going back to face the dangers they left and traveled for weeks and sometimes months to save themselves from or trying to cross into this country illegally at a spot that is not designated for asylum seekers using “coyotes” who are people you can pay to bring you across illegally. If they do cross at an un-designated place along the border, that is an illegal crossing which allows the border guards catch them and they get charged with a misdemeanor crime of Illegal Entry (which is not a felony- it’s a low level crime), but that ruse allows the government to treat them differently. Now they can be treated as criminals under the law. And their children are given a different label- they are now unaccompanied minors and are sent to a different system under HHS while their parents are in the criminal system which quickly deports them back to their countries of origin using mass hearings where a large number of these people are asked rote questions by a judge and they answer all together.
This is how the government is essentially tricking people into coming in, being processed separately from their children in the criminal system instead of using the asylum seeking protocol, so that they can deport them back to their countries of origin (because they now have a criminal violation on their record- Illegal Entry). The parents are often deported without their children who have been misplaced by the system because they are in a different system and both systems are understaffed and not communicating with each other. The children are held separately from parents under the pretense that the parent must be incarcerated because the parent committed a crime and our laws do not allow children to be incarcerated with the parent. The children are designated as unaccompanied now that our government has separated them from their parents.
Let’s be clear here. This is a form of entrapment. This is a violation of international protocol for asylum seekers as well. It is immoral. It is malicious. It is disgusting. It must stop.
Once the children are taken away they are taken to prisons of their own where they do not have access to phones to call their mothers or fathers and the staff inside these pens cannot even reach out to hold and comfort the children because prison rules are followed in these holding pens and tent cities that are being used to house them. The rules being followed were instituted to prevent sexual assault in prisons. Now they are the reason children are crying alone and without anyone to comfort them. We have now learned that there are babies and very young children being held in cages. Reporters are not being allowed in to see the children. All of the images are ones provided by the Trump administration to media outlets. This is state sponsored child abuse. This is horrifying.
ProPublica’s smuggled out tape of little children crying and calling for their mothers and fathers was the first deeply shocking piece of evidence made public that speaks to the heart and soul of every single person capable of empathy. If you have not listened to this tape, listen to it. It is heartbreaking to hear to but motivating for all of us who need to activate to help these children.
Trump could reverse this policy by making a phone call. But he won’t. He is using this policy to try to get his way on immigration. The children are being used as hostages by this sick man and his hideous cabal in the White House.
We have to keep the pressure on the Republicans. They are in control of the House and the Senate. They are in power and chair every single committee on Capitol Hill, controlling the agenda absolutely. Not the Democrats. If this policy is going to change, Republicans are going to be the ones to make it happen (at least until the midterm elections if we can get a blue wave please! please!). These Republicans should be ashamed of themselves. I do not know how they can live with themselves.
The problems of our country- the drug crisis, the lack of good jobs- have been blamed on immigrants but they are not the problem. The mistreatment, really the brutal emotional torture of these immigrants, will not solve the problems we have in this country.
Don’t tell us this is God’s will or that these immigrants should follow the law. Jesus Christ taught us to reach out and help those who have less than we do. He told us to be kind to each other, good to each other, help the foreigner, help those who need help. Romans 13 quoted by Jeff Sessions about how God wants us to follow the laws of our government was used in the past to justify slavery and Jim Crow. And following the law is irrelevant here when our country is actively breaking international law by separating families at the border, setting up immigrants to break the law by closing the ports of entry for refugees, and treating totally innocent children as criminals.
WE are the criminals if we let this happen. WE must push back and push back and push back against this travesty. The president, Sessions, Stephen Smith, Kirstjen Nielsen are carrying out this policy that could be ended in one minute. This horror show is on him and his nasty group of toadies but we need to act.
How? Write letters. Call lawmakers. Keep up the noise! It does make a difference. Send Kirstjen Nielsen and Jeff Sessions emails protesting this policy. Quote Laura Bush to the Republicans. Call Republican lawmakers and tell their staff members how angry you are. Support the ACLU because they are suing the Trump administration over this policy and a federal judge has allowed the case to go forward.
It may feel like you are just an ant trying to carry a tiny piece of food up a huge sand mound, but if we all do it, we are a community of people who will not let our country lose its soul and we can together demand that our country regain its heart and its sanity!