Children at a Texas Detention Facility for Illegal Immigrant Children
I want you to think of the kids. It’s for them that separation is necessary, regardless of system-generated trauma.
I used to work for CPS. I removed children from their families for a variety of reasons, at all times of the night and day. Sometimes I removed them because their parents were being arrested and there were no other caregivers available, or the caregivers could not be reached in time to avoid it. It was always a traumatic experience for the kids, no matter their age or history. It also couldn’t be avoided.
That’s where we are now with President Trump’s Zero Tolerance for illegal immigration initiative. The renewed flush of immigrants who overwhelm our borders have to be stopped. Yes, I have sympathy for their plight and exodus from neighborhoods that are poor and violent, but I also know that if people keep fleeing, if they have a pathway to freedom and opportunity, their own countries will never stop being what they are. A home is what you make it, and so is a country.
I also know that, under the previous strategy of not arresting adults who bring their children and that of unaccompanied minors, these children will be brought into the country with no permanency.
Federal law requires that when a state CPS agency take over the care and custody of children, certain mandates apply. Namely the state must ensure the safety, stability, well-being, and permanency of those children. These are the same things families would typically provide for their children, and when they are removed under the doctrine of parens patriae, the state must step in to provide them.
Even IF an illegal immigrant parent could provide safety, stability, and well-being for their children, questionable with an illegal status and their own trauma in many cases, they cannot, under an illegal immigration scheme, provide for the permanency of their children. Their children will face the same limited prospects and the same constant uncertainty their parents will face with avoiding detection by local police and federal agencies designed to stop the influx of illegal immigrants into the country.
We can have the debate about whether or not we want to codify something like DACA, but if the illegal immigration flow is not stemmed, we will have need for a permanent DACA, and that is untenable. We will have children raised with the continuing trauma of avoiding detection, of living a life on the run from the police powers that protect us all. Because of their illegal status, they will be unable in many cases to develop a moral, justice-centered view of themselves and their environment, and this will lead to poor life outcomes for most.
Do we need a sensible immigration policy? Yes, yes we do. President Trump is trying to articulate that policy in fits and starts, with only the authority vested in the Executive branch. We cannot continue to let illegal immigrants ignore our laws and our borders and overwhelm our already bursting-at-the-seams infrastructure. We simply can’t afford illegal immigration at the levels it has been going on for decades. Amnesty was tried in the 1980s under Reagan, and it failed. No sensible leadership would fall for that scheme again, but a leadership who doesn’t care about existing legal constituents would. Or a leadership who would like to game the already permissive voting system might. We need a protected, controlled border where we get to decide how many, and what kind of immigrants come to this country.
We built this great country, and we made the best set of rules to ensure the freedom and opportunity of our people. We called it the Constitution. Immigrant children need exposure to that view of the system, and the only way they will get it is if they come in the legal way. Or, they could build their own in their own countries one day. It will be in their and their families best interests that they do so.