Kiddie Pawns

Using children to fuel a political firestorm

A week’s worth of media-savvy outrage erupted over the Government’s placing into Government-operated shelters the children of parents arrested for illegally crossing our southern border, pending adjudication of their status and probable deportation.

For the government’s side, the optics were devastating: Exasperations of “They’re separating children from their families!!” boomed across the cyber-land, and echoed back and forth. The uproar invoked sepia photographs of doomed mothers and children arriving at Auschwitz – the media machine proving itself capable of desecrating anything in furtherance of desecrating Trump’s presidency, if not Trump himself.

Still, a once-and-likely-future media personality might have seen it coming.

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The ostensible target of all the outrage is nothing new: minor children are routinely removed from their parents’ custody, and placed in government-run shelters or foster care, when their parents are arrested for crime.

Every State’s so-called “child protective” agency does that, daily. The “war on drugs,” particularly the marijuana theater of that war, is a principal culprit, along with the parents’ own decisions to commit the crime, regardless whether it should be one.

In a “Bulletin for Professionals” titled “Child Welfare Practice With Families Affected by Parental Incarceration,” the Children’s Bureau – which is a subdivision of the Administration on Children, Youth & Families, which is an office of the Administration for Children & Families, which is somewhere within the Department of Health and Human Services – observed “Although there are no official nationwide statistics, it is likely more than 5,000 children are in foster care because their parents have been detained or deported for immigration issues.” (It's on page 14.)

And further, the Bureau acknowledged: "Individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may be placed in distant detention centers, and communication with them may be very difficult."

That Bulletin is of vintage October 2015, citing a paper from 2011.

Some recall those days as halcyon, because they occurred during an Administration deemed benign, and with friendlier press relations. But this is not news.

So, for several years now, the fact that several thousands of children were figuratively “dragged from the embrace” of parents who literally dragged them illegally across the border, ignited none of today’s vehemence.

What’s different this time is Trump.

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Trump is crass, crude, callous, bellicose, bullying, vulgar and vapid. Now, with that out of the way . . . may we get to the point:

Trump is plainly exasperated over illegal immigration. There’s little dispute that it occurs, but little agreement on how evil it is. Some don’t seem to care about honoring the border, the sanctuary cities adamantly defending those who flout it.

But Trump cares. He wants it stopped, wants Congress to clamp it down, mainly by building a wall against Mexico, curtailing “chain immigration” and visa lotteries. (Query # 1: How do all those immigrants get to the US border, without freely traveling through Mexico, if not with its assistance? Query # 2: By facilitating their assault on the border, to embarrass Trump, is Mexico meddling with our elections?)

In a peculiar juridical twist, Trump can adopt “zero tolerance” for border-crashers – prosecuting them all, no more “catch-and-release” – but that implicates the Government’s 1997 (Clinton/Janet Reno-era) “Flores agreement” not to jail children alongside their arrested parents. In Flores, the government agreed to hold minors in juvenile detention facilities or even “medium security” facilities. That is, separated from their families who are in jail.

One cannot know whether Trump ordered “zero tolerance” with a premeditated intent to use this child-care anomaly, long embedded in current immigration law enforcement, as leverage for his proposed reforms.

In any event, that procedure, in place since 1997, bridging two of the most un-Trump of administrations, resulting in 5000 cases in 2011, inspired only lethargy on the Left, for decades.

Their overwrought reaction is new. Suddenly using children to ignite and fuel an anti-Trump intifada cannot be divorced from the politics of the coming midterm elections – which is just as facetious as any base motive impugned to Trump.

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Immigration policy needs reform, re-definition. Shall the nation’s policy be “Zero-tolerance” embodied in a physical wall? Or essentially open borders without control? Or a measured, compromise combination of permits to legalize guest workers, some relief for genuinely innocent and assimilated “Dreamers,” and regard for the inescapable economics that demands immigrants with the skills and drive to contribute to and become “Americans,” but not an immigration system based on randomness and chance.

But there’s been no bona fide discussion, only the invective of political warfare, in which the children have been used as kiddie pawns.


No. 1-7

OPen borders doesn't seem like a good idea but why wasn't there stronger deterrents in our laws so none of these ethical dilemmas could have happened? The timing is oddly suspicious too as midterms is almost here. Anyone know some history lessons on important milestones in our immigration laws?

Philip Carino
Philip Carino

Nice legal background and citations. However when they described it and shown us pictures of entrapments that looked liked fences or cages, is ICE, and every other state doing that too? Also I now see where the "separation" dilemma is coming from but why does every media outlet keep on telling us that there is no law that specifically states that "separation" is allowed/mandatory? Are they lying to us? Like all of them? Literally WashPo, CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NPR or is there some ounce of truth there? Because it's so jarring to see a very different point of view here when everyone else tells us it's the other way around. Hopefully you can clarify. My mind is open and love to discuss things as the imagery of those children is just very very upsetting and I want to make sense of it.



Thanks . . . (and the WashPo, too).


Ron--excellent summary of the situation. What is so frustrating is that all those NY Times-type readers will be seduced by the incessant repetition of the fantasy-version of events and the truth will never even get a hearing.

JP Mac
JP Mac

Apparently, child separation at the border only became wrong this year, because it's been done in years past with barely a word from the media or Democrats.

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