What’s worse than separating families at the border? Knowing that we have a Congress that won’t fix the problem because they’re too busy pointing fingers at the other side and blaming their opposition for this current mess. On top of the fact that we have an inept Congress that never works together, we have Trump to worry about.
So, what happens? What always happens. Nothing.
To put it into perspective, let’s talk about the DACA. President Trump announced back in September of 2017 that he was going to end the DACA program by March 5, 2018. That deadline came and went. He held meetings with both Democrats and Republicans, yet months have passed and we have yet to see any bipartisan support for any piece of legislation that will solve the DACA issue. He’s given Congress months to figure something out. Have they? Take a guess. I’m going with a hard no.
Now, let’s move on to what the Trump administration is doing regarding undocumented immigrants arriving at the border. Trump being Trump is doing what Trump knows best, which is to take a somewhat extreme position on an issue and then blame Democrats and Congress for not doing anything about it. Sound familiar?
In this instance, Trump is blaming the Democrats not for the “zero-tolerance” policy that his administration has implemented, but for the law that he is enforcing.
Democrats and Republicans alike have been speaking out (which is what they do best) against the way that Trump has decided to implement this policy.
But guess what? He’s right. Trump is not doing anything that he cannot do legally, and he is not doing anything that was not done before him. The issue is that Trump is taking things a step further, like he always does. Maybe not to prove to the American people that Congress doesn’t want to get things done, but maybe because he likes to enforce our laws in any way possible. In my opinion, it’s a bit of both, although the former isn’t that far from the truth.
One major difference that stands out between Trump and previous administrations is his stance on those seeking asylum, and his stance on immigration in general (i.e Travel Ban). Although what he is doing, again although immoral in the views of many, mine included, is not illegal.
When it comes to adults or family units seeking asylum, the Flores Consent Decree from 1997, which was implemented under the Clinton Administration, “says that unaccompanied children can be held only 20 days. A ruling by the Ninth Circuit extended this 20-day limit to children who come as part of family units. So even if we want to hold a family unit together, we are forbidden from doing so,” explains Rich Lowry at National Review.
Likewise, David Harsanyi over at The Federalist explains that,
“…despite perceptions, often created by the president himself, the Trump policy isn’t really zero tolerance. Those who claim asylum at ports of entry are not separated from their children. Only parents charged with entering the country illegally and who claim asylum after being apprehended are detained. Adults who choose not to be deported have to wait for adjudication of their case. While this happens, the law prohibits children from being held in the same detention centers as adults.
One of the underlying policy problems, largely ignored by those covering this story, is that in the past families who claimed asylum were often released with a bracelet (one that could be easily removed) if they promised to show up at a hearing at some later date. They often did not show up. Does anyone on the Left know how to fix this problem? Do they believe it’s a problem, at all? It sure doesn’t seem like it.”
Another example that what Trump is doing is something that has been both agreed upon by Congress and the Courts for the past 20 years is this analysis by Fred Lucas of The Daily Signal:
In 1997, the Clinton administration entered into something called the Flores Settlement Agreement, which ended a class action lawsuit first brought in the 1980s.
The settlement established a policy that the federal government would release unaccompanied minors from custody to their parents, relatives, or other caretakers after no more than 20 days, or, alternatively, determine the “least restrictive” setting for the child.
In a separate development, in 2008 the Democrat-controlled Congress approved bipartisan legislation to combat human trafficking and President George W. Bush, a Republican, signed it into law.
Section 235 (g) in that law, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, states that unaccompanied minors entering the United States must be transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement rather than to the Department of Homeland Security.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit expanded the Flores settlement in 2016 to include children brought to the country illegally by their parents.
While members of Congress like Dianne Feinstein and Ted Cruz have come out with bills that are meant to fix the issue of the separation of families at the border, the support for the legislation is as partisan as you would expect it to be. Democrats are supporting Feinstein’s ‘Keep Families Together Act‘ and Republicans will most likely fall in line and support Cruz’s ‘Protect Kids and Parents Act.’ Both are good, but could be better. The fact that Congress can’t even come up with a bipartisan bill to stop families from being separated shows that the issue is not just Trump, Obama, Bush, or other previous administration, but Congress as well.
We have a problem. A big problem. And what seems to be happening is that no one wants to fix it or own up to their failures. We know what’s going on and Congress knows exactly what they’re doing. NOTHING.
Let’s hope that they can get this right. Regardless if the law allows for the separation of children from their families, it’s not what we should be doing as a nation. It’s not what we should stand for. Now, I’m not advocating for open borders, but as a child to immigrant parents who came here legally from Cuba in the 1960’s to escape communism, I’m asking for Congress to come up with a solution that addresses the influx of undocumented immigrants, safely and humanely.
Follow the author on Twitter @MiguelAGranda