Posted by: minnow | June 20, 2018

It Makes a Great Headline

Earlier this morning I wrote a lengthy comment on a FB friend’s post. The post intended to build a bridge between opposing parties by sharing a link meant to sort through the facts about what’s happening on our southern border. My comment was meant to point out the real issue (as I saw it). I then went to work for a few hours, came home and boom-bada-boom, my FB news feed announced 45 had signed an executive order to STOP the separation of children from their parents. WOW! Talk about action that could make a 609 word comment obsolete in a hurry. If you are interested in reading it for yourself, here is a link to the Executive Order signed by 45 on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. I have just one question: what has changed?

Currently, under US law children cannot be held in federal prison facilities. Keeping their “Zero Tolerance” policy in tact means all who enter the country other than through a designated port of entry, even if their intent is to seek asylum, are classified as breaking federal law (international law be damned). Therefore, the following two sentences from the executive order:

It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law. 

make it clear this executive order WILL NOT put an end to children being separate from their parents, at least not for long. One of two things is true. The EO is meant to, immediately passes the buck and points a finger at Congress. Or, worse yet, 20 days down the road 45 will throw shade at the judiciary (undermining our trust in the courts and the law), and once again “be forced” to separate children from their parents, because, well–the law.

45’s action today was not meant to solve a problem. It was designed to deflect blame, set up a future scapegoat, and produce positive headlines. It replaced pictures of caged children with one of 45 signing a pice of paper for the day’s news cycle. But what is actually being done about the children who were already ripped from their parents’ arms, who remain warehoused? From April 19 to May 31, over 1900 children, ranging in age from a few months to 17 years, were separated from their parents, turned over from ICE to DHS, and routed to mass detention centers. Another month and a half has passed since those figures were made public. Will those children ever know what happened to their parents?

Before 45 signed his EO, all 49 Democratic Senators cosponsored the Keep Families Together Act in an attempt to legally stop the practice of separating children from their parents. Not a single Republican signed on. Instead, the vocal elements on the Right defended the practice by pointing to “the law” and calling it a deterrent. Some even used the Bible to suggest following this policy was a good thing, forget that the Constitution, not the Bible, is supposed to be our basis for law.

I hope I am wrong about what looms on our horizon. I do not want to see history repeat itself. Yet, personally I believe we have reached the place where we must take an honest look at the moral danger we face as a nation and make a decision where we stand. Like many (white, middle to upper class, God-fearing) Americans, I have always had an idealized understanding of America. When confronted by a less than rosy  element of our history, I always told myself, I would have been one of the good guys. I would have stood on the right side of history.

Questions like: which side of slavery would I have been on? Which side of giving small pox infested blankets to Native Americans or forcing their children into boarding schools would I have been on? Which side of rounding up Japanese Americans and putting them in internment camps would I have been on? Which side–protesting or refusing to serve Negros would I have been on? are becoming more difficult to answer with any sort of conviction. You see, at that time in history when those actions and policies took place, they were legal, civilized, a question of the economy, passed off as Biblical, said to protect us from potential threats, or or a means of preserving our heritage. In there moment, they were white washed, justified, even made to seem patriotic. It was normal.

So, which side of history would I have really been on? I don’t want to find out. But, I am more and more afraid we are about to.

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