Somewhere along the way, we have all lost sight of what is really important.
Before I explain that statement further, let me share a little bit about myself. I am from a loving family with great parents whose hearts were so large that they chose to adopt not one or two but six children. Yes, six of my brothers and sisters were adopted. One of the many lessons being raised in a large home like mine, was that sometimes the most loving thing a parent can do for a child is to give them up. For one reason or another, three different mothers realized that the best possible life for their child was one in which they were not playing a primary role.
About fifteen years back I worked briefly at a boys home in Texas. Here I was able to see an even more extreme example of this love. Of the eighty plus children living there with ages ranging from kindergarten through high school, two different sibling pairs were living in an even more unique situation. Their parents had snuck across the border to be able to give birth to their kids here in America.
because those kids were born here, they are US citizens. Their parents, however, were not. They had to return to Mexico but they chose to place these boys in this home rather than bring their children back with them. This shows me another example of a sacrificial love where parents were able to set aside what they might have wanted to make the best, for their kids, of a horrible situation. It also shows me how great America is that a family would be willing to risk so much and sacrifice so much knowing that even a difficult life in a poor situation would be better for their kids than the best the could offer somewhere else.
Fast forward to the present day. Lately, news and social media has been blowing up with regard to parents being forcibly separated from their children when entering the US. Some say they are entering illegally, others that they are applying for asylum. It all depends which news sources you read which is true but for argument’s sake can we assume both are true in some of the cases? No matter what the reason, this is a tragedy and an injustice and something needs to be done about the issue.
Unfortunately, from what I have seen, it has become clear that nothing is going to be done and both sides of the political spectrum are to blame for this. Very quickly the focus of this evil has shifted from “look at what a horrible thing is happening” to “look at whose fault it is”. I originally started researching this specifically to answer that question. What I have found was that there was a legal settlement which allowed families to be separated for a maximum of 20 days to determine that the immigrants are the true parents and also, it needed, a sponsor for the children in the US can be found. That was the Clinton Administration. The William Wilberforce Act in 2008 allowed a greater term of separation to protect the child in an attempt to reduce cases of human trafficking and also to prevent that child from possibly being returned to an abuser. That was the Bush Administration. Under the Obama Administration criminal prosecutions for illegal immigration reached an all time high with about 90,000 immigrants being prosecuted in 2013. What really sparked the most recent hoopla about all of this was Attorney General Jeff Sessions May press release that the government will now be prosecuting these illegal immigrants to the fullest extent of the law. From what I have seen, this means that before they would simply be removed from the country (and at removal children and parents are reunited). Now they will be more likely to face smuggling charges and jail time first. I would encourage all of you to not take my word for it but to look for yourselves. I have sifted through plenty of articles and here are four that I think will help provide the clearest picture:
DHS article on illegal immigrant children and families
Vox article on Obama’s deportation record
TRAC article on immigration prosecutions from 1997-2017
Washington Post article with a video clip of Attorney General Jeff Sessions
So in short, if we are looking for which administration to blame for this mess then we have to point the finger at Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. Republicans, Democrats, past presidents, current administration… we are all to blame. So let’s all get past trying to figure out who is at fault and instead go back to asking, “what can we do?” Personally, I can’t think of any easy answers. But I am in a different part of the world, working in a city with hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from a very different context. Hopefully, there are others who are able to invest their time and intelligence into this question and come up with better solutions than I ever could. What I do know is that until we start asking the right questions, we will never come up with the right answers.