I had been wanting to write about immigration for a while now, but everytime I sat in front of my laptop, I came up short. I knew my angle would criticize the way our government is handling the situation, but my frozen fingers were a result of a something else: I wasn’t sure exactly what to criticize because I simply wasn’t sure of the facts. Now, I am quite aware of the folly with exclusively depending upon the news to be educated about current events, but the reporting on this particular issue has been so full of vitorol and finger-pointing that forming an opinion on the matter has become an exercise in futility.When attempting to do so, I find myself awkwardly hesitating, my brow furrowed with confusion. One thing I’ve become clearer about though is that bipartisanship has unraveled the moral fiber of our country to a sickening degree. This became ever so apparent when both Trump and Sarah Huckabee evaded questions about our current immigration policy by blaming the democrats, which allows for border patrol to separate children from their parents who attempt to cross the border illegally. I had heard about Jeff Session’s use of the Bible to justify the policy (another article for another day), but I was honestly more sickened about the dem-blaming from the Commander-in-Chief. It really had me thinking about what was his expected outcome? Did he think shifting the blame would fix the issue? Put pressure on the dems?
Of course, this led me to research the credence of this sentiment. Were the democrats to blame for this policy? Or better yet, what is the policy? Are we supposed to rely on heart-wrenching images to make our decisions or will we ever learn the facts? After doing some digging, I learned that the child separation policy involves separating children from their parents at the border in an attempt to discourage illegal border-crossing. This policy comes under the Consequence Delivery System, which according to the bill written by the 114th Congres is defined as “the series of consequences applied by the Border Patrol to persons unlawfully entering the United States to prevent unlawful border crossing recidivism.” So in short, as a person seeking asylum, having heard how children are being separated from their families, which many of these families are, one would want to avoid the risk of having their own children separated.
Now, I’ve read the general consensus of antagonist to the policy, who cite the negative psychological effects this has on the children who are not only snatched from parents but often put in what appears to be cages, but the effectiveness of this policy on the immigrant parents who unlawfully enter the United States is still a but cloudy. It made me wonder if this plan truly works. If the situation at home is so detrimental that one would risk being jailed, apprehended, or worse for the hope of a better life, would they also be willing to have their families separated? Wouldn’t that be the least of their problems?
When I taught writing, one of our assignments was to write an argumentative essay answering the question, “what is the biggest obstacle immigrants face …in pursuit of the American Dream?” One of our cases involved Vietnamese immigrant Trung Dung who survived unbelievable obstacles as he illegally escaped his home country for the hope of a better life in America. I surveyed my class and asked was coming to the United States illegally worth all of his troubles, and surprisingly, a majority of the students said that it was. Of course, his story had a happy ending as he became a millionaire and started a tech company. Other immigrants, though, are not as fortunate. We also read about undocumented tomato farmers who were starved, sometimes beaten, and otherwise tortured just so they could exist on American soil – sometimes these immigrants ended up being nothing more than alcoholics. I surveyed my class again, and still a significant number of my students believed that the risk of crossing the border illegally was worth the hope of a better life in America.
As I think about this issue, I am convinced that parents of immigrant children aren’t thinking about peer-reviewed articles citing the psychological trauma of having their children separated from them, they may not be dwelling on the abject conditions their children may be subject to after being detained. In their most desperate state, they aren’t concerned with the facts, but rather one ideal and one ideal only: hope. It would take another and significantly longer article to detail the conditions these people are fleeing, but either America is a utopia or one could conclude that they are fleeing Hades. And from that, one could also conclude that they’d be willing to risk the trauma of never seeing their child again for the hope that that child may have a better life.
So, while I am utterly discouraged and disgusted by the rhetoric and bipartisan blame-game surrounding this issue, I am pretty convinced that this policy seems both inhumane and ineffective. Rather “building a wall” will fix the issue is still up for debate as well, but there has to be some middle ground. The question is, will our government end their finger-pointing so we can unearth that middle ground and discover an effective and moral solution for this issue?
1 See: Dan Rather’s The American Dream 2 Toil and Temptation by Michael Kamber