Tweeting Away while America’s Reputation Burns

If we are paying Mr. Trump’s presidential salary based on the number of tweets he sends, we are getting our money’s worth. If it is on the quality of the tweets, not so much.

nero-fiddling

“Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.” (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1008708576628625408)

Which, duh, is WHY parents are deciding to risk their children’s lives in fleeing the crime and corruption for the sanctuary of America. An American detention center, no matter how horrible it may be to us, is better than the conditions from which they flee.

And like it or not, much of the disarray in many of these South and Central American countries resulted from American policies. During the post-World War II era, when anti-communism was the prevailing mood, America supported right-wing, non-representative governments who used the training, weapons, and resources we provided to suppress dissent.

Which was fine with us as long as it was anti-communist.

We do not bear sole responsibility for these conditions. People must seek democracy through their own efforts, not just with American assistance. But, these people risking everything to make it to America should be treated according to the law.

The policy of separating children from parents who illegally enter the country is not new. It has been in place since long before the Trump administration. But the current zero-tolerance policy takes it to an entirely unintended level.

I won’t presume to know the motivation, but I suspect it is less than honorable.

Zadvydas v. Davis (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/533/678/case.html) is a 2001 United States Supreme Court case which clarifies and limits the time an individual may be held pending a deportation hearing absent any other circumstances or when no country will accept their return.

If those coming here, illegally or not, cannot return to their country of origin or face the possibility of execution or torture if they are sent back, the case sets the limits on their detention. One analysis puts it this way

Does the post-removal-period statute authorize the Attorney General to detain a removable alien indefinitely beyond the 90-day removal period?

No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court held that “the statute, read in light of the Constitution’s demands, limits an alien’s post-removal-period detention to a period reasonably necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States” and “does not permit indefinite detention.” “Based on our conclusion that indefinite detention of aliens in the former category would raise serious constitutional concerns, we construe the statute to contain an implicit ‘reasonable time’ limitation, the application of which is subject to federal court review,” wrote Justice Breyer. (“Zadvydas v. Davis.” Oyez, 18 Jun. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2000/99-7791)

Previous administrations separated children from newly apprehended illegal aliens. They then complied with the court decision. Absent mitigating circumstances, and subject to federal court review, the individuals were processed and reunited with their children. If returning them was not practical or if it was likely to result in civil rights violations they should be released, but they still face the legal obligation of applying for asylum or other lawful means to remain here.

Here’s a perfect opportunity for the President to force the Democrats hand by seeking their cooperation in finding a solution to those who cannot be returned but are guilty of only one thing, seeking safety for their children.

It is also a perfect opportunity for those who espouse the Evangelical Christian philosophy that purports to care about their fellow humans. Let’s see how many of those organizations step up to sponsor those families in need. If protecting the unborn is the work of the Lord can embracing those already on this earth be any less so?

Perhaps Joel Osteen and the other money-grubbers wrapped in Biblical clothing can re-task their mega-church money machine and put the resources to better use than buying jets and building huge temples.  Turn the sincere but sad gullibility of their contributors to something of actual value.

The right-wing Christians who support the President can welcome those in need into their homes as the Bible so instructs. In Leviticus 19:33-34,

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

You gotta love the Bible, there is a saying for every occasion. It’s like the original Hallmark card. I’m sure if I look hard enough I can find some chapter and verse that instructs us to offer illegal aliens up as burnt offerings that are so favored of the Lord.

Clearly, the government of the United States must control and prevent illegal immigration. Drug cartel members, other criminals, and those who seek to harm the United States and the American people should be apprehended and returned, when possible, or detained if necessary.

But that is not the case with the overwhelming majority of individuals fleeing with children.

To read Mr. Trump’s tweet, he makes it seem as if every person crossing the border with children is a diabolical criminal. He ignores the reality that most are desperately seeking safety for their children from conditions which most of us could never imagine. If recent history tells us anything, it’s those cages hold a host of future valedictorians and potential academic excellence. They appreciate the opportunity of America in most cases. They add to the quality of America.

He gets part of it right when he says, “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world.” That, Mr. President, is precisely why they come here, to escape such conditions.

ct-children-border-patrol-facility-photos
Image from Chicago Tribune

Follow the law, and the court decisions, as they are intended. Screen the individuals within the 90-day period then reunite them with their children. The specter of uniformed border control officers guarding children in cages is not the image we want the world to see of America.

If you want to flex your Presidential muscle, point it towards the countries where these conditions exist and threaten to cut foreign aid unless reforms take place. Use the bully pulpit for something other than castigating the FBI, the Justice Department, your predecessors, or the failed campaign of a former candidate whose time has passed.

We do not blame victims of crimes, we seek to help them and target those who perpetrate the crimes. Most people coming across our borders with children are victims, not criminals, and we should remember that when we enforce policies. If we can’t separate the chaff from the wheat in 90 days something else is gravely wrong with our country.

It would appear someone in the administration came to their senses and convinced the President to issue an executive order. After spending weeks trying to find an excuse that worked and blaming the Democrats and Obama for the problem, the President did what he said he could not do.

Which sparked this gem of a tweet,

My Administration is acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the Southern Border. Loopholes in our immigration laws all supported by extremist open border Democrats…and that’s what they are – they’re extremist open border Democrats…Democrats want open Borders, where anyone can come into our Country, and stay. This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!” (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1009844059211366401)

Among other things, Mr. Trump and I have a vastly different definition of swiftly.

No one wants people to enter this country illegally or with intent to do harm.  Nor do we want people to come here for the sole purpose of taking advantage of our generosity. But, this country has usually found a way to absorb those with little hope in their own countries. We’ve not always done it, the refusal to accept Jewish children before our entry into World War II is one glaring example, but to say categorically we should have a zero-tolerance policy is inhumane and contrary to the spirit of America.

How this all plays out, and whether Sessions and the Justice Department can renegotiate a settlement in the Flores Decision (Reno v. Flores507 U.S. 292 (1993), remains to be seen. But if empathy and a humanist approach to dealing with these matters are scarce with this administration, follow-through is exceptionally rare.

Sessions proclivity to use Biblical references as legal arguments will fail in a court founded squarely on the principle of separation of church and state. If ever there was proof needed for the wisdom of the forefathers in this matter, nothing better has ever come from the words or actions of a government official.

P.S. If we are going to use the Bible as an authoritative source for justifying these “zero-tolerance” policies, I offer this., another Biblical gem from Leviticus 20-10,

“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”

I have a suggestion for where to begin. We can sell tickets to “cast the first stone.”

(Please click the links below to share this. Whether you agree or disagree, the more we discuss this, the faster we can seek common ground for a solution.)

3 thoughts on “Tweeting Away while America’s Reputation Burns

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